If you’re a GC, working with marketing can be a mystifying process. Who do you speak to? Where do you start? And how do you get them to understand (and care about) the major privacy issues that could potentially affect your company?

Last week, we had Ami Rodrigues from Under Armour, Julia Shullman from TripleLift, Andy Dale from Alyce, and Julia Tama from Venable speak on this topic during our TechGC Privacy Forum.

Below are 3 tips for initiating and maintaining a great relationship with your marketing team.

Get Marketing on Your Side

In your initial conversations with marketing, give them a lay of the land when it comes to privacy and how your company handles data. Marketing likely holds the keys to much of your company’s data, so you want to establish right away that you’re partners. Always emphasize that you’re there to help them, not get in the way.

While you should definitely have conversations with marketing leaders, such as the CMO, you should ideally be speaking with people all across marketing. Establish what marketing is doing now and what the company’s biggest goals are for the future. The goal in these conversations is for everyone on the marketing team to understand what specific privacy issues might affect the business and where the privacy gray areas are within your company.

One great tactic for getting marketing on your side is by working with them to create customer-facing documentation (like blog posts, support articles, or videos) that address how your company addresses consumer data and privacy. Working with your marketing team on this type of content will get them thinking about how your company’s goals and values can align when it comes to privacy.

Once you’ve built rapport with marketing, it’s time to take it to the next level and scale your relationship with documentation, processes, and key privacy stakeholders. Read our post on launching a privacy program to learn more.

Demystify Your Tech Stack

Do you know what products and services your marketing team uses and how your customer data flows between them? Marketing teams tend to stitch different types of solutions and technologies together, and as a GC, your job is to understand what they’re using and why they’re using it.

A great start is by holding a session with marketing to map out every single point in a customer’s journey, then get behind the business use-case for each system place.

Once you wrap your head around what they’ve built today, you can start to talk about what they want to build in the future and how they expect to get there. Depending on the type of work you’ve done before as a GC, you may even have recommendations for systems that will help the marketing team better achieve their goals while reducing any potential risks.

Remember, the way customer data flows through your company has long-term effects, such as your company’s value during an acquisition event or IPO. Make sure your marketing team knows that their actions can have long-term effects on your organization’s success.

Build Processes for Vendor Vetting

Ideally, you want to get to a point where marketing is thinking through any privacy risks before the end of the vendor selection process. To get your marketing team there, you’ll need to teach them how to spot any potential privacy red flags by asking questions before they get into vendor conversations such as:

  • Where is the vendor located?
  • What is the use case for your customer data?
  • Will there be any additional data ingestion beyond the business use case?

One way to do this without creating much friction is by creating a document that they can refer to during the vendor selection process. You can also have quarterly or bi-annual meeting with marketing where you review how they should go about addressing top privacy concerns.

If your company is the vendor, you should have plenty of materials in place (decks, one-pagers, etc.) that lay out your positions on privacy and data protection. And it should be clear to your team how and when to distribute these materials to a client.

A good way to start these materials is by looking at any frequent RFI and RFP questions you’re getting, then expand your content library from there. Above all, any documentation you create should be the end result of a longer process that you’ve gone through to fully flesh out your privacy program.

Becoming a partner with your marketing team is a long-term process that will pay dividends multiple times over as your company grows. Getting them to think of you as a partner rather than just a lawyer is pivotal for ensuring that you work together successfully.

Want to learn from other GCs about staying ahead of global privacy changes? Apply to become a member of TechGC today. You can also read our other posts from our privacy forum about staying ahead of global regulationsWeb3, and building a privacy program from scratch. If you’re already a member, join us for the TechGC Going Global Forum on July 19th, 2022.