How to Comply with the CASL Legislation

May 5th, 2014   •   Comments Off on How to Comply with the CASL Legislation   

The new CASL Legislation will go into effect this July; are you ready? This new anti-spam legislation will change the way everyone does their email marketing. If you fail to learn the rules and comply you may face serious monetary penalties. This post will show you how to prepare for this tectonic shift in Canada’s email marketing landscape.


  • Law takes effect July 1, 2014
  • Enforcement by three agencies (CRTC, Competition Bureau, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada) begins July 1st
  • Individuals who have received spam starting July 1, 2017 may raise private lawsuits
  • July 1, 2014 – July 1, 2017 is a three-year transitional period during which the normal 2-year implied consent for existing business and private relationships has been extended to 3 years to ease the burden on businesses
  • July 1, 2014 – July 1, 2017: Period where anyone conducting digital marketing should reach out for express consent from all contacts and implied contacts

Express vs. Implied Consent

While express consent (opt-in) is preferable and eliminates the most risk, it is not the only acceptable form of consent under CASL. Implied consent is still acceptable under certain circumstances and will continue to be so under the new legislation. Although marketers may rely upon implied consent in some circumstances (existing business and non-business relationships), these are bound by certain prescribed requirements and are time-limited. If using implied consent, marketers will have to be vigilant in tracking those consents and their time limits as the burden of proof rests with the organization sending a commercial electronic message.

As well, express consents collected under PIPEDA that meet the affirmative consent requirement under CASL (e.g., person must have checked a box or other affirmative action equivalent) are grandfathered. But if companies are in doubt as to how they collected consent, they would be wise to recollect consent.

Penalties for Violation

Penalty fines for those in violation of sections 6-9 of the legislation range from a maximum penalty of $1 million for individuals to $10 million for businesses

Who is Liable?

Individuals and businesses are liable and can face penalties for violation Within organizations directors, officers, agents and signatories of a corporation can be liable, if they directed, authorized, assented to, acquiesced in, or participated in the commission of the violation.

Action Plan for Marketers

Clean your Email Subscriber Lists

CASL will hit your mailing list hardest. From July onwards you still can send email to established business relationship recipients (within the limited time period allowed) but you should only email new subscribers who have opted in to receive your communications in compliance with the CASL guidelines. While there are a handful of exemptions to the consent rules, if you haven’t done so already, it’s time to clean your mailing lists and identify “official” subscribers. Refer to the Canadian Marketing Association’s Guide to Canada’s Anti-Spam Law for full details.

What You Should Do…

…If you use email to communicate with anyone:

CASL has very specific requirements regarding what constitutes express consent. Marketers should review the rules to make sure they comply.

…If you have NO opt in subscribers:

  • Create a subscribe option for your website
  • Email your existing mailing list and request that they opt in

…If you have a mixture (opted and not):

  • Extract opt-in subscribers
  • Email the remainder of readers an important PLEASE OPT IN message
  • Draft a new mailing list (opt in only)

Social Strategy Changes

The Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement explains that although CASL is not specifically meant to cover social networks (such as LinkedIn and Facebook), it could capture direct messaging within the networks. This is a gray area (for now) — marketers should proceed with caution. Now is a good time to reevaluate your social media sharing strategy. Some of your activity may be acceptable but if you currently use social media to harvest emails and target site visitors with ads you may need to change your tactics.

What’s ACCEPTABLE according to CASL?

  • Tweeting, posting and commenting
  • Sharing with those who’ve liked and followed you

What’s UNACCEPTABLE according to CASL?

  • Sharing with those who only visit your pages without opting in
  • Retargeting casual site and account visitors for EMAIL HARVESTING

Educate Your Staff

If you run a business and market your services you may need to educate your team. Training your staff to comply with CASL may sound extreme but it may also be necessary in order to avoid penalties. Ignorance of this legislation is not a defense.

There are many specific requirements to understand and comply with such as:

  • Consent may be obtained orally or in writing
  • Consent must include the name by which the person seeking consent carries on business
  • Consent must include the mailing address, and either a phone, an email address or a web site of the person seeking consent or the person on whose behalf consent is sought
  • Recipients who unsubscribe must be unsubscribed “without delay” and no later than 10 business days after asking to be unsubscribed. And so on.

How to Train Your Staff:

  • Host a training session in your office. Bring in a CASL-knowledgeable professional
  • Consider private training or consulting for your communications manager(s)
  • Hire a professional!

Reference Material

Consider preparing a CASL Guidelines document your marketing staff. This can be used as their reference whenever they are unclear on what CASL allows them to do or not to do. Appoint A CASL Manager.

If you do not have a marketing manager, now might be the right time. This manager will need to be well versed in CASL legislation in order to guide your team adequately in compliance. This manager also should regularly check for CASL amendments as the legislation takes hold over the coming months and years.

The tips above should have you on the right track to CASL compliance fast and keep you out of trouble. If your email marketing needs an overhaul, act fast, time is running out.

CASL Links

General Info:

Industry Partner CASL References:

Betternxt Manager’s Solutions Focus One-Day Workshop…April 22nd

April 7th, 2014   •   Comments Off on Betternxt Manager’s Solutions Focus One-Day Workshop…April 22nd   

Join Alan Kay and me for our next one-day workshop:  The Betternxt Manager’s SF Toolkit Workshop: Tuesday, April 22, 2014

9:00am – 4:30pm

Centre for Social Innovation Spadina
215 Spadina Ave., Toronto, Ontario M5T 2C7
Alterna Savings Meeting Room, 4th floor

Price: $299 ($269 early bird price, by April 7)

For more information:

Leadership career development can mean a lot of different things…improving your mentoring skills, becoming more adept at dealing with difficult people, and even seemingly simple stuff like learning better decision-making. Building a Solutions Mindset helps to develop all of these leadership skills in tandem.

Solution Focus is an approach – a set of tools – that you can plug into your current practices and skills. Betternxt gives you access to a broad range of ways to use the approach in everyday ways.

This practical 1-day workshop — in a collaborative, hands-on learning environment — helps managers and leaders like you who want to:

  • Learn and practice professional leadership skills that you can apply right away
  • Identify and explore the use of better questions that lead to better conversations within your team and across teams
  • Develop your ability to help people articulate their own solutions, one-on-one and in teams
  • Self-assess your current skills and develop immediate and long-term goals for growth
  • Sign up and get a free copy of Alan Kay’s book, Fry the Monkeys – Create a Solution. The Solution Facilitator’s Handbook

Price: Before April 7 $269; After April 7 $299

For more information:

Floatable Post-It Notes

April 1st, 2014   •   Comments Off on Floatable Post-It Notes   

We’ve needed this for a long time. Now when you get that great idea in the shower, capture it, and brainstorm some more!



Introducing Betternxt Academy and the Manager’s Solutions Focus Tool Kit One-Day Workshop

December 13th, 2013   •   Comments Off on Introducing Betternxt Academy and the Manager’s Solutions Focus Tool Kit One-Day Workshop   

Betternxt Academy





Alan Kay and I are pleased to announce the launch of our very first one-day workshop —The Betternxt Manager’s Solutions Focus Tool Kit — on Saturday, January 18th at CSI Annex in downtown Toronto.

Head over to our Betternxt Academy web site for more details and while you’re there, sign-up for our email list to be informed of other workshops and event in the future.

Alan and I started Betternxt Academy to augment to share Solutions Focus with business managers and leaders. You can read more about Solutions Focus on the Betternxt blog: What is Solutions Focus?

Richard Toker & Alan Kay Betternxt Academy

Its human to be human

September 30th, 2013   •   Comments Off on Its human to be human   

In a recent Ad Age cmo strategy post (“The Newest Marketing Buzzword? Human.”), the irony is in the sub-title: “Companies Increasingly Trying to Adopt Characteristics of Their Customers in Order to Be More Likeable.”

Huh? You mean one characteristic of the customer is that s/he is human? Does this mean that some of their customers are not human? Or, does being human now mean something different now? Is it a demographic trait, like ‘watches prime-time sports on TV,’ or ‘plays lotteries’ or ‘eats more vegetarian meals?’ In that case, some customers could be described as being more human than others, some might over-index on ‘human.’

If this is the dawn of the “human era for brands” brands could start by just asking customers simply what’s working well for them in their experiences with the brand and where there might be an opportunity for change. Instead of “Do you measure your call center on how quickly they get off the phone with customers?” Actually, I do want to get off the phone with call centres quickly.

If customers start throwing around the word ‘human,’ then maybe that’s an opportunity to probe on what they mean by being human and what might be better or different in the future for them if they felt the brand was more human than it is today.

Example of an email marketer taking the bull by the horns (Gmail’s new inbox)

September 22nd, 2013   •   Comments Off on Example of an email marketer taking the bull by the horns (Gmail’s new inbox)   

There have been so many articles, how-to’s and tips from email marketing blogs and newsletters on how to cope with Gmail’s new way of organizing your inbox. Here’s a good summary of the situation in the New York Times: Retailers Fight Exile From Gmail In-Boxes. But finally I received an email from someone actually doing something about it. I don’t know, maybe lots have, but this is the first one I have received making explicit how I can ensure I “Never Miss a Travelzoo Deal.” Pretty simple. I bet it works.



Things I carry

April 18th, 2013   •   Comments Off on Things I carry   

I love workflows and seeing what the processes, sequences and tools other people use to get stuff done. The origins of ‘workflows’ are software and manufacturing, the realm of engineers and programmers. In 2002, David Allen created workflows for regular folks with the Getting Things Done system. It has since been adopted by millions, in one form or another.

But more and more today you can search for something + ‘workflow’ to get beyond the basic how-to’s to see the actual step-by-steps: “first do this, then do that,” etc.

I love listening to the Mac Power Users podcast with David Sparks and Katie Floyd. Each week they discuss Mac OS and iOS workflows and the tools they and their guests use to get stuff done with Apple technology, whether its running a law practice, producing music or parenting.

It follows from my interest in workflows that I get a kick out of seeing what people have in their bags, what they carry around with them as indispensable, literally or figuratively. If you enjoy this too, search #thingsIcarry on Slideshare.

I had some fun looking at the stuff I carry and uploaded this:

Rich Toker’s “Things I carry: tools for success” from Richard Toker

Survey Shows B2B Sales Cycle Lengthening

April 17th, 2013   •   Comments Off on Survey Shows B2B Sales Cycle Lengthening   
Survey Shows B2B Sales Cycle Lengthening
Survey Shows B2B Sales Cycle Lengthening, Increasing Challenges For Online Marketers (via PR Newswire)

New data from Crain’s BtoB Magazine underscores need for brand differentiation, better targeting and segmentation strategies, and more visibility into marketing program performance across the entire marketing funnel SAN FRANCISCO, April 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Crain’s BtoB Magazine today shared results…

Latest Solution Focus video

March 2nd, 2013   •   Comments Off on Latest Solution Focus video   

Ben Furman talks about the challenges and opportunities to improve happiness in the workspace using Solution Focus techniques.

Just me ‘n 1,999,999 others

February 11th, 2013   •   Comments Off on Just me ‘n 1,999,999 others   

I couldn’t bring myself to tweet this, like they suggested (see pic below), but I do love some of LinkedIn’s more recent marketing tactics. They are really stepping it up, and its going to be fun to watch where they go this year. Here are some predictions from other blogs:

9 LinkedIn 2013 New Year Predictions

15 LinkedIn Predictions from Portugal!

5 Intriguing LinkedIn Predictions for 2013

As for me, as a direct marketer, I have always wondered why LinkedIn hasn’t teamed up with Dun & Bradstreet to enhance data on D&B’s lists. Imagine the possibilities for B2B direct mail and email prospecting.

Rich Toker's LinkedIn Profile amongst top one percent

In conversion marketing, keep doing what works and stop doing what doesn’t work…measure, repeat

January 30th, 2013   •   Comments Off on In conversion marketing, keep doing what works and stop doing what doesn’t work…measure, repeat   

Viraj Patel is an up-and-coming marketer, currently with Harley-Davidson Canada. He is also a former student of mine at the Canadian Marketing Association’s Direct Marketing Certificate Program. Yesterday he sent me an email with a link to this article, suggesting it might be useful for future classes: How Obama Raised 60 Million By Running A Simple Experiment, by By Dan Siroker on the Optimizely blog. Optimizely is a commercial web set optimization service, and the article (now more than 2 years old) may be self-serving, but what an amazing and easy-to-understand example of the role that testing plays in conversion marketing!

In his email Viraj said:

I think the article shows a quantifiable result of conducting testing, and proof that it is worth the investment in resources. Another thing I found quite interesting, was how accessible a solution like this is to businesses of all sizes. The low cost to implement something like this allows even small organizations to run testing.”

I couldn’t agree more.


Solution Focus Marketing Planning

December 19th, 2012   •   no comments   

At a recent North American SFCT chapter meeting in Toronto I had the chance to workshop a concept I am developing to make marketing planning easier.

Marketing planning is the process of developing a roadmap to guide an organization in achieving their goals. Its derived from the organization’s vision, mission and business plan. It identifies the products and services to promote and sell. It defines how resources will be allocated to meet objectives; it identifies financial implications. Its pretty important: yet, we don’t make enough time for it because we get too caught up in day-to-day management of activities and fire-fighting. Because we don’t set aside time for planning, its not fun when we do it; its hard work, especially the most challenging part of it: setting objectives and developing corresponding strategies.

The truth is, its not so much the plan itself that’s important; its the planning. Taking the time away from day-to-day tactical management is where the value is because it gives us a chance to just think about what we’re doing and what we should be doing. It gives us a chance to identify the questions. As James Thurber said “It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.”


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