On December 1, 2009, new rules from the FTC went into effect that limits the way you can use testimonials and endorsements in your advertising (and if you’ve been listening and using these Marketing Minutes, this should apply to you since you should be using testimonials in your advertising – RIGHT???).

To summarize, here’s the deal. What our government is concerned about are those testimonials that do not reflect the outcome of what the average person who purchases your product or service will have. Let’s take for example, the real estate investment industry. Can you make tens of thousands of dollars flipping real estate when you follow their step-by-step program? Absolutely. You can’t ignore the outpouring of proof showing the countless and amazing transformations from zero dollars per month to $24,987 per month, proven by the dramatic rags-to-riches testimonials. But does EVERYONE who buys their product get the same results? Not a chance. The fact is, most people who buy the products either never crack open the package they came in, or they only get so far with the stuff and wind up not implementing the necessary steps to achieve these great results because it’s too much work. This is where the problem lies.

Our government is now mandating that all performance-based testimonials reflect what the AVERAGE person will get – so in this case, if 95% of the people never use the product or never implement what they learned, the new testimonial will need to look something like this… “I’ve been using Amazing Jim’s Instant Profits from Flipping Real Estate System and I’ve earned $997 in just 3 months.” Not real exciting, is it?

So, how does this effect your business? Here are some testimonials or statements that are most likely no longer acceptable right now (unless you can prove this is what the average person can expect to achieve)…

  • For an auto repair shop—“My gas mileage improved 10% and I have over 200,000 miles on my car after Joe’s Repair cleaned my engine and rotated my tires.”
  • For a chiropractor—“Dr. Jones helped me lose over 67 pounds in four months with his Weight Loss Adjustment Program.”
  • For a dentist—“In just 6 short months, my overbite was fixed, my teeth were straightened and people are amazed at how great my smile is now.”

What most likely is acceptable (see my important note below) would be…

  • “I’ve been taking my cars to Joe’s Repair for over 7 years now and they have done a great job every time. I have trust in Joe.”
  • “I loved the free examination and x-ray service service that Dr. Jones provided me.”
  • “Dr. Smith is very friendly and has made my back feel better.”

Please, whatever you do, do NOT stop using testimonials because of these new rules. What other people say about you is far more important than what you say about yourself. Take the time to learn the new rules to stay compliant.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE: Since I am not an attorney, you should not take this as legal advice from me. If you would like to learn more about this new ruling, please check with your lawyer or go to http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm

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Author: Kathy Jiamboi

Owner of Creativedge Marketing, where growth-oriented dentists find dental practice marketing strategies and advice to take their practice to a new and higher level.

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