HomeThought leadershipWhy Your Nordics GTM Strategy Needs Compliance Built In

Why Your Nordics GTM Strategy Needs Compliance Built In

Many companies fail at launching campaigns, projects, or products, chalk it up as experience, and then move on to the next. But what if you were trying to launch your business into a new market with much higher stakes? Making sure that your strategy is built to set you up for success where it counts becomes crucial.

In 2018, the European Union rolled out this little thing called the General Data Protection Regulation, and every marketer let out a sigh of frustration. This regulation would govern data processing, giving marketing activities a new layer of complexity.

But it’s not just marketing and the GDPR you need to keep your eye on when developing your go-to-market strategy. You might already be familiar with the region, but do you know everything there is to know about compliance? Because your sales team will also need an outreach plan that aligns with regulations!

But before you’re annoyed by what seems to be a lot of extra work, let’s break everything down.

What should you include in any GTM strategy?

No pressure, but your GTM strategy can make or break your success with product, brand, or new market launches. But whether you’re going the sales or product-led route, experience will tell you that you need four core elements for your go-to-market strategy:

  1. A definition of your target market/ideal customers
  2. An analysis of product market fit
  3. An overview of your competition and demand in your market
  4. A marketing and sales distribution strategy that is aligned

#4 is where compliance will come into play, so how can you ensure that your marketing and sales distribution strategies align with local regulations?

Compliance: Prevent nasty surprises with a solid foundation and careful preparation

Whether it’s the European Union or the European Economic Area, you will come across laws and regulations dictating data processing and electronic outreach methods.

Here are the main pieces of legislation that regulate how we can use personal data in the EU and the EEA:

  • The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

This dictates how you handle someone’s data.

  • The e-Privacy Directive (PECD)

This outlines how you can reach out for sales and marketing purposes, among other things.

These two legal provisions can make or break your go-to-market ambitions, but just how relevant are these regulations in the Nordics region? 

B2B outreach channels in the Nordics and the regulations that govern them

Before we begin, it’s important to mention that this is not legal advice. This information serves as a guide to help you understand data protection and e-privacy restrictions. Should you have questions/issues, it’s recommended that you consult a lawyer who can address them.

This piece will focus on Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland’s regulations.

The most common outreach methods are cold calls and cold emails, which are the two with the most regulation tied to them. Of course, no one wants to be spammed via telephone or digitally, so each country has its own regulations to prevent that.  

Country-specific regulations

The Danish Marketing Practices Act regulates all outreach activities in Denmark. There is also something called the “Robinson List” that private persons can put themselves on. Being on this list signals they do not wish to be contacted for marketing or outreach purposes.

The Swedish Marketing Act defines cold email outreach, among other things. Your prospect must opt-in so you can be allowed to contact them. In terms of telephone outreach, private persons can add themselves to a do-not-call registry to opt out of marketing. 

Even though Norway is neither a member of the EU nor the EEA, Norway’s Marketing Control Act is in place to implement PECD requirements. Norway also has the Central Marketing Exclusion Register where private persons can opt out of being contacted via telephone for marketing purposes.

The Finnish Act on Electronic Communication Services regulates direct marketing via electronic methods. This includes both direct or mass mailing to natural persons. You can still use business-related email addresses to reach out unless they have also opted out of those. Reaching out via telephone in Finland is only prohibited if they’ve added themselves to a do-not-call list.

In all cases of telephone opt-out lists: it’s your responsibility to check if your prospect is on that list before contacting them. 

Outreach regulations quick view:

In all countries, there are outreach exceptions which means you can contact them via email if:

  • you’ve done previous business with them, and that’s how you got their contact information. 
  • the recipient hasn’t opted out.
  • the recipient has been informed of their right to opt-out before you reach out via email.
  • you’ve given the recipient information on how they can opt out of marketing activities and have provided a valid email address where they can do so.

Selling on social business networks like LinkedIn is not restrained by PECD rules, and people won’t be surprised by others reaching out. However, be sure also to check each platform’s terms and conditions that often restrict social selling to deter spam. 

Trade shows or industry-related conferences are also a great way to find your ideal B2B customers. At these events, you’ll be meeting people who are already ready to do business. You just have to have the right approach. If you collect contact information at these events, you still have to provide the person with data processing information. 

Before they give you their contact details, be sure to give them the following information:

  • How you intend to collect, process and store their data.
  • Contact information they can use to opt-out.

Best practices for all countries

Email outreach:

  • If the prospect is using, they must opt-in so you are allowed to contact them.
  • A country’s respective PECD laws outline certain regulations for electronic marketing, and in most cases also apply if no personal data is used in reaching out. For example, with an email like

Telephone outreach:

  • Check the local do-not-call registry to verify that your prospect hasn’t added themselves.
  • Call only during office hours.
  • Use numbers found via official company registries.

General best practices:

  • Provide a transparent and easy way for contacts to opt out.
  • If you receive opt-out requests, you must comply immediately.

A good rule of thumb, no matter what your outreach method is: don’t spam anyone, ever.

What might block your success?

Did you check all your compliance boxes? Does your strategy include all the necessary elements? You might have answered yes to both these questions, but what might be the blockers to your success?

An incomplete or unpolished competitor analysis

The Nordics region is very attractive to many companies, not just yours. Therefore, you need to have a proactive and reactive strategy to cover all your bases. And remember, while you’re checking out your competitors, they’ll be doing the same.  

Not researching the local regulations and legal requirements

Did you assume that Norway and Finland had the same regulations? Time to go back to the drawing board with your strategy. Reach out to the city’s local council where you want to launch to get the most current and accurate information on what is allowed in terms of data processing and outreach.

Your product or service isn’t a fit

You want to deliver to the right people, in the right place, at the right time. Getting all three elements aligned is a challenge but crucial. You might know exactly who you want to target and where they are, but do they need what you offer right now?

Once you’ve addressed all these factors, there’ll be nothing holding you back.  

Before you launch: Your B2B GTM checklist for the Nordics

Preparation is at the core of any launch, and a go-to-market strategy with GDPR compliance built into that strategy will help prevent future missteps. So before you dive into your new market, here is an overview to make sure you have all your bases covered:

  1. Highlights of what should go into your GTM strategy:
    • Know where your ideal customers are.
    • Understand your competition and leverage their weaknesses.
    • Put a local team in place, both for sales and customer service.
    • Localize your marketing/sales activities, and tailor them to your target market.
  2. Future-proof yourself and build trust with GDPR and e-Privacy compliance:
    • Get to know the specific regulations of the country/region you want to enter. It’s not enough just to know the GDPR or PECD.
    • Set up a data management hub so prospects and customers can easily manage their data and permissions.
  3. Stay dynamic and agile with a strategy that can handle:
    • industry growth or shrinkage.
    • challenges like economic fluctuations.
    • more competition moving into your market.
    • updates/amendments to laws and regulations.

Really understanding your market and how they do business will boost your chance to win customers and power up your business. Compliance issues shouldn’t be seen as an annoying side-quest. When your customers know you care about their data privacy, you build trust that can’t be bought.

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