Competition Direct Mail Direct Marketing Email marketing Internet marketing Management Marketing Real Estate Regulation Restaurants Retail Sales Small Business

Are your testimonials illegal? Will they be?

Even if you aren’t using REAL testimonials in your ads, you should be. I believe we’ve talked about that a few times.

If you are using testimonials (again, you should be – I can’t nag about that enough), then you might be interested in some changes that the FTC is considering. They’d like to keep a closer eye on what people say about the things and services you sell.

As the CPSIA situation might suggest (and I think I’ve made it more than a suggestion), you have to be more vigilant about keeping track of changes in laws and regulations that can impact your business.

To that end, I suggest you slide over to the FTC notice of their Federal Register request for comments about the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. Here’s the 86 page request for comments (pdf) from the FTC.

EIGHTY SIX PAGES? Yeesh. But you gotta do it, if nothing else to avoid another CPSIA-like experience. The PDF is on my reading list for the weekend. If I find anything ugly, I’ll be sure and make note of it here – HOWEVER, you need to check it over to see if your business is impacted.

Rather than get caught being less than vigilant as many were by the CPSIA, I suggest getting on top of this before it becomes law. The deadline for comments is January 30, 2009.

It appears that the changes are common sense, but I strongly suggest you check it out for yourself – one person’s common sense is another person’s “One lamp or two?

A quote from the FTC notice:

In the newly approved Federal Register notice, the FTCâ??s proposed revisions to the Guides address consumer endorsements, expert endorsements, endorsement by organizations, and disclosure of material connections between advertisers and endorsers (emphasis mine). On the issue of consumer endorsements, the proposed revisions state that testimonials that do not describe typical consumer experiences should be accompanied by clear and conspicuous disclosure of the results consumers can generally expect to achieve from the advertised product or program.

UPDATE: One of the reasons that we get these kneejerk reactions from Congress that hurt everyone is that there are still unethical vendors out there doing things that ought to get them slapped to the gutter. Things like this, for example. Thanks to Jeff for the heads up on this story.