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DM NEWS: B2B marketers must unite to tackle CTPS and save telemarketing

The B2B marketing community must work together to campaign for the DTI to change the way the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS) operates, to safeguard the future of B2B telemarketing. This was the conclusion of the B2B Marketing Great Debate on the CTPS, held at the English Speaking Union in London on March 27, run by B2B Marketing and Mardev.

The debate was entitled 'Is the CTPS working?' and featured contributions from chair of the DMA Telemarketing Council John Price (also MD of Price Direct); Robert Bond, partner at Speechly Bircham LLP; Nick Martin, MD of Mardev and Claire Hobson, head of UK telecom policy at the DTI.

Hobson revealed that the DTI had no idea of the negative implications of the CTPS for B2B telemarketing, which includes the growing number of large corporates who are registering their telephone numbers via the service, thereby barring themselves to telemarketing calls. This is despite the fact that the service was not designed or intended to facilitate this.

Hobson also suggested that the Federation of Small Businesses, which was amongst the most prominent voices in support of the CTPS when it was first mooted, has subsequently sought to distance itself from the service.

However, John Price encouraged marketers to seek to change the existing system from within, rather than campaigning for a complete abandonment, which would be complex to achieve and take longer.

“It is simply not practical to try to get current legislation scrapped. But hopefully there are practical solutions, especially regarding larger businesses. It is non-sensical for larger companies being prevented from calling buyers because of usage of the law that was not intended,” says Price. “The DMA is looking to work with all stakeholders to find a mutually acceptable solution.”

New research from Mardev suggests that the CTPS may be acting as a restriction of trade for small firms – the audience which it was designed to protect. The research showed that 66 per cent of small businesses would like the freedom to market themselves as they saw fit, whilst only 11 per cent regard the CTPS as a useful tool.

Meanwhile, unsubstantiated allegations of additional abuse are emerging. There are suggestions that individuals and organisations are being registered on the CTPS and TPS against their will and without their knowledge, by salespeople to protect a good prospect. The DMA is investigating this issue.