Internet Law Compliance

light hearted

light hearted

Did you, by chance, attend “THE DAY THE WORLD CHANGES” tonight? That was a recommendation by email by David Garfinkel, copywriter.

It was a pretty good webinar where Joel Comm and Attorney Kevin Houchin talked about their Site Compliant FTC Toolkit.

They were talking about the new rules issued October 5, 2009 by the FTC, which will be effective December 1, 2009.

So coming up real soon in a few weeks.

Here’s my light-hearted review:

Will affect everyone using testimonials and endorsements in marketing and sales in ANY form of advertising, not just online! (even sandwich boards)

Not enough to be truthful in marketing and will protect consumers in the United States, both individuals and businesses. Actually shipments can be stopped, accounts frozen, fines laid. (severe embarrassment)

Going from truthful to transparent. (will some ads disappear?)

Testimonials, especially, will be scrutinized, and you must disclose material connections (eg. tell that you are getting a commission from an affiliate product). On websites, social sites, email, sales pages… (lets get real people)

If an endorsement is made and it is not totally obvious that the expert is benefiting from the advertisement then you must more or less hit people over the head with it. Big names making a TV endorsement may be exempt. (we should know this by now)

I guess because the internet is still so new, we need to be told for each and every affiliate product that the person is making a commission. Probably because there are so many new surfers coming online every minute.

There’s two kinds of testimonies:

1) Aspirational–this is when you are promised all kinds of money, like Mr. Big Bucks. Or you’ll lose 100 lbs and get a new life.

2) Generally accepted–this is what Mr. Normal makes: zero, maybe a bit more. Or you lose 2 lbs and gain 4 lbs.

You cannot hide behind “Results may vary” or “Results not typical” stuff like that.

Testimonials must continually reflect engagement (not sure how that’s going to pan out). Means you may have to keep getting new people who have actually bought whatever it is, be still using it. Can’t just get one golden case and keep using that forever. You have to actually keep tabs on that person. (what if you already learned the marketing or lost the weight?)

And it will ESPECIALLY be products that go into your body and information that goes into your mind. (wonder how many people work at the FTC?)

Must stick to generally expected performance results. And must be a real user. (will fake ads using models disappear? And the completely made up lying-through-their-teeth ads go away?)

“Material connections” will have to be disclosed. That means the affiliate relationship will have to be spelled out.

You marketers may be liable for what your affiliate companies are saying and doing, even outside of your sphere of use of the product. (kind of reminds me of the contracts we sign when are hired at company, you sign your life away!)

So…

1. Be compliant

2. Stay compliant

3. Show your proactive intent to be and remain compliant

Gosh.

Testimonials may need to be more formalized. Experts will be held to a higher accountability.

Then Joel and Kevin flog their 230-page conversational searchable PDF  document, with a very cool badge, and membership site.

The crest-looking badge is very nice and comes in a choice of four colours with your reference number embedded. Actually I like it so much I think my blog should be a gargantuan shield-looking badge and nothing else.

Anyway, if you buy a book on your own and give a review out of the goodness of your heart then that’s okay.

What I thought was funny was that the badge gives you a commission if someone clicks on it and buys it, too! Same ‘ol same ‘ol.

Tell you truth, I love sales people. We should call them “Buying Technicians” and give them a raise. Give everybody a raise. Are lawyers really sales guys?

The Federal Trade Commission has a website, and here it is click here (I do not get a commission for this).

My recommendation: be smart, not scared

And for gosh sakes click on one of my links, you won’t allow me a cut unless you keep clicking links all over the place and get out your credit card. Make sure you’re getting a good deal.

If you have discipline you can get anything for free. But then what will you do with your money? Money’s not worth anything unless it keeps moving.

Really, if you’re a poor old granny put that money into butter and beef and the bus. Or charity, like I do.

2 comments.

  1. Great post! Will stop by again — Keri

  2. Thanks, Keri, see you again (appreciate it!)

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