Data Privacy as Growth Opportunity?  Absolutely!

John Horace is a business growth guy. The metric could be revenue, retention or agency value – as long as the numbers are increasing, he has some swagger.

John is the sales & marketing leader at a mid-size professional services agency, focused on delivering new growth opportunities.

He typically has no interest in regulations or compliance discussions that affect his agency. If you want to see his face contort, start going into depth on compliance or regulatory topics. However, he does pay attention to factors that may impact his prospects and clients. If there is potential opportunity in the regulatory mix, he does pay attention. John is always looking for an opportunity to add value for prospects and clients and differentiate from competition.

John is aware that the data privacy regulatory dominos have been falling, first with the European GDPR in 2018, then the California initiatives, the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act of 2021 (CDPA) which is effective on January 1, 2023, and the Colorado Privacy Act. Now it appears Utah will be the fourth state with a comprehensive data privacy regulation. More States are working through the process.

However, John focuses his attention on the “so what?”; the implications of these regulations for marketing and sales rather than the details of the regulations themselves. The potential opportunity, not the obligation.

As John evaluates it, he realizes that while the regulations may never apply directly to his agency, the external reality for his business will likely change as consumers, competitors and businesses respond to the regulations. This realization made John consider how customer and consumer expectations would evolve and how his competition may pivot due to privacy regulations.

While regulatory risk to the agency is not likely, John acknowledged that reputation risk could potentially be significant. There are many examples of this from the cyber security world. He wondered about the impact on hard-earned trust and loyalty if they do not handle data in a responsible and transparent way.

John did not want to think about the potential impact a data privacy event may have on agency valuation, since value is typically a function of cash flows and risk.

John’s thoughts shifted to his prospects and clients. Some of the larger clients may have obligations under the privacy regulations. For others, data privacy may be a reputation risk exposure that they are not even thinking about yet. As John considered the potential impact on prospects and clients, he noticed an article about data privacy that a colleague had forwarded. The article attempts to simplify data privacy by highlighting that the various privacy regulations are based on a basic set of individual rights and organizational responsibilities that must be observed.

John didn’t see any confusing technical stuff in the article. It all seemed pretty clear – things like providing notice, obtaining consent, and consumer choice. As he reviewed the article, John started to feel like most of this privacy stuff was relatively easy to understand, and potentially something about which the agency sales team could use for meaningful risk management discussions with clients and prospects.

The article included an attachment named “Data Privacy Canvas – Opportunity or Obligation?”

The Data Privacy Canvas is a one-page summary of basic questions, practices, regulations, and approaches to data privacy. John appreciated how it provided an easy structure for data privacy risk management discussions with clients and prospects and provided a “cheat sheet”.

Please click here to download a copy of the Data Privacy Canvas

John reviewed each of the twelve blocks on the Data Privacy Canvas. There were several terms he didn’t recognize, but most of it was at a level that every member of his agency team could relate to. He began to consider how to use the Canvas for prospect and client discussions.

Encouraged at the prospect of finding a timely topic with the potential to add value for prospects and clients and differentiate his agency from competitors, John started to think of data privacy regulations in a new way – as an opportunity rather than an obligation.

New Questions to Consider

  • In what ways will consumer expectations be changed by what is going on with data privacy, and how might that impact prospects and clients of your agency?
  • In what ways may existing agency competitors change their approach because of the data privacy regulations, and how could that affect your agency?
  • Is this an approach that can position your team to add value for clients and prospects, and differentiate from the competition?

Actions to Take

  • Use the Data Privacy Canvas to review what data you have and how it is being managed, shared and stored.
  • Review the Privacy Policy currently available on your website. What does it tell you about your agency? Is it written in a legal or marketing voice?
  • Review the privacy notices located on the websites of your top five prospects, top five clients and top five competitors. Discuss the findings among the agency leadership team.

David Dillon is the owner of Watney Insights Network, Inc. He has observed that successful executives and business leaders are typically great at what they do, but when confronted with new business challenges like driving growth or team health & culture they usually find they have limited support available, so they settle for the status quo or struggle alone and often fail.

Watney Insights Network helps guide them to rise above their challenges with proven solutions, and the tools, process & support they need to achieve success and fulfillment, so they can thrive.

To learn more visit or contact David at 703.785.9440 or

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