Part 1: Using Testimonials in Your Ads
The “new” FTC regulations that govern the use of endorsements and testimonials to promote products have been in place for a little over a year now, and some of you may still need some help with them. Others may be new to online marketing and are looking at the rules for the first time.
Either way, here’s a layperson’s understanding of it.
There are two basic things to pay attention to:
- If you’re going to use testimonials in your advertising, be prepared to do major research in your industry/company to back them up.
- Whenever you get paid in any capacity to say nice things about products or services, you have to say so every time, up front. You’re now known as an “endorser.”
We talk about #2 in Part 2 of this post: “Standing Outside in Your Underwear, Or Disclosing That You’re Paid for Advertising.”
Here’s the scoop about testimonials in your ads:
The FTC has told all advertisers, online and off, that they—we—can no longer use big-money or big-result testimonials to sell or market our products or services, unless we also say in the ad what the typical results are for someone doing the business and/or buying the products or services.
And it’s not good enough anymore to say “results not typical” at the end of an ad.
This applies to any kind of advertising, including websites, blogs, magazines, conferences, meetings, billboards, all the other in-person stuff we do.
So, for example, if you wanted to say, “You can make $10,000 a month within a year,” you’ll need to prove that this is a typical result for a business in your industry.
Or if you have testimonials in your blog or anywhere else that tell of “amazing stomach relief,” for example, or “way-clear skin after taking Zit-Away for a week,” even if they’re real as real can be, you must be able to show that they are the typical experiences of real people when using your product.
The important word here is “typical.” Keep it in mind at all times.
So what’s the easiest way to comply? Don’t use testimonials at all. We’re all pretty jaded about them anyway, right?
Or, if your ad copy is bellowing for a real live body telling how the product has worked for them, why can’t it be you? You can describe your own experience and be safe with the FTC. State your case in as few words as possible and people will be grateful for it. And if your results are not typical of what happens to people using the product, you have to say that in the ad, and say what the typical results are.
To be very, very clear: Even if you have 50 people on a video with signed letters and statements that say their results are valid, if those 50 aren’t representative of typical/average results, then you have to say what the typical results are.
There you have it for testimonials. We suggest that you remove all sales pages that have testimonials on them, and be very careful about making income claims. We might all be thanking the FTC down the road, who knows?
Here’s the FTC REVISED-GUIDES ANNOUNCEMENT