The World of Marketing Will Change Forever on 12/1/09

The world of marketing will change forever on 12/1/09

As a consumer I understand why the FTC is implementing these rule changes. I am frustrated by the abuse of marketer from all over the globe misrepresenting their products and services. As a marketer I am dismayed because I am an ethical marketer. I have never intentionally misled my readers. With that said, know that a lot of the rules are not clear but here are some of the highlights I took away from the webinar conducted by Joel Comm and Attorney Kevin Houchin. As a matter of nondisclosure I am not a lawyer and I may have missed some very important points. I would suggest you have a lawyer who specializes in marketing creative review your sales letter:

1.    Specifying results in an endorsement is a no no. Even if the results are true it suggests others should get the same results and we know that is not true. Even with the disclaimer “that result may very” does not get you off the hook. Endorsement should reflect what the average person can expect to achieve. This should be interesting because I have no clue on how one would measure that.
2.    If someone is being paid to endorse or sell (or sell) your product it must be disclosed (affiliates who are reselling your product are included). The consumer should know that the person marketing to you is making money.
3.    If an affiliates makes claims that are not true it appear you could be held responsible. This means you should monitor your affiliates and cancel their agreement as soon as you spot trouble.
4.    100% truthful ad can get you trouble for deceptive advertising because they may not be representative to what the “entire population of buyer” could achieve. The example use talked about a endorsement, though true, mentioned a net gain of $80K dollars that can be attributed to attending a seminar. How many in the audience can expect to achieve that?
5.    To provide an endorsement, one must be engaged as a client, and remain a client as long as the endorsement is being used. I wonder how this will work for a book.  Reading it is usually a onetime event and any gain are typically onetime gains because you read the book.  If you are a client, this relationship must be disclosed. If you stop being a client you must take down the endorsement. If they are not longer a client you must go back to them to see if they still feel this way if you want to use their endorsement. A little fuzzy is it not?

I would suggest you review the sales letter and your web site for potential problems. The FTC can freeze your bank account and not allow mail (your product) to be received if you are suspected of being in violation.

Again, please understand that this is my take based on a webinar I attended and since I am not a lawyer, and the rules are not fully understood, I am sure things will change.

Your Business Coach
Ron Finklestein