Let’s face it, most ads you see on most social media platforms are horrible. Most of the ads can be very misleading to clients or customers. It creates the sense that a company didn’t have enough faith in its product or service to sell it on the merits alone. Plus, it says that a business doesn’t believe that its customers are valuable enough to be honest and straightforward.
Finally, it shows a business cares more about the short-term gains as opposed to the lifetime value of an honest relationship with a customer.
What are some ways your company can avoid misleading customers? That’s what I’ve answered with a few tips below.
1) Talk to a Lawyer or Marketing Expert
Are their laws written strictly against false advertising? Absolutely yes! However, its much more complex than you think and there’s several laws aimed at protecting consumers from fraud or deception. For instance, the Federal Trade Commission in the United States has rules and guidelines letting consumers know more about their rights when using gift cards.
In fact, they have rules about what marketers can and cannot do during times of consumer stress such as when a loved one dies. It may be a good idea to run any advertisement you want to air or put online by an attorney or marketing guru. This may be an especially prudent idea if you want to run an ad in multiple countries that may each have their own rules and best practices to follow.
2) Learn Relevant Regulations on Advertising
As a general rule, you’re not allowed to either directly or indirectly make claims a company will not stand behind. For instance, if you say a specific computer is on sale for $1000, a customer will expect that computer to be on sale for $1000. Of course, you could add a disclaimer saying that there are only four available at that price or a consumer has to mail in a rebate check after paying full price at the store.
However, it would not be acceptable to tell customers the computer actually costs $2000 or the model shown in the ad is not the one actually on sale. Those would likely be cited as misleading claims in advertising. In the event, you couldn’t get the particular item into the store on the day of the sale, you should either reschedule it or take steps to compensate customers for their time.
3) Point Out When Paid Actors Are Reading Testimonials
If you’re using paid actors to read testimonials, you should make sure your consumers know this is the case. It could be perceived as misleading to have someone who has a financial interest in promoting a company or product saying good things about a product or service without proper disclosure. In some cases, it could cause consumers to believe that others who have bought a product or used a service have had good experiences with them, which could sway their purchasing decision.
Those who are writing sponsored blog posts should fully disclose they have been paid for the post. The same is true if you are getting a commission from the sale of a product or service you promote on your blog or website. In addition to following the law, it helps to build trust among your readers, which can help you build a powerful online brand.
4) Read or Watch an Ad From the Perspective of a Customer
The easiest and the most effective way to tell whether or not an ad is misleading or overly confusing is by watching the ad yourself. Instead, you may want to have a friend or family member read or watch it before it is released to the public. Whoever watched the ad can give you feedback of what they just heard, the ad is likely adhering to truth in marketing and other advertising principles.
However, if the person who watched the ad doesn’t understand what he or she just watched or read, it should raise red flags. It may be necessary to make changes in an effort to avoid being accused of making false claims in advertising. In some cases, it may include changing language in the ad or making relevant disclaimers more prominent within it.
Most ads on television, the radio or read online are fraught with disclaimers and fine print. And those disclaimers and fine print are included for a reason. If you don’t tell consumers exactly what they are buying and how much they are paying for it, it could lead to a loss of trust among your customers.
It could also lead to fines and that’s bad for business. Misleading your customers is never a good idea whether it is done intentionally or not. Therefore, you should have several safeguards in place to reduce the odds of making a claim to customers who cannot or will not be honored by the company. Ideally, you will have an attorney or other legal experts on hand to review any marketing materials created before they are seen by the public.
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