Customer testimonials 101: What you need to know
An endorsement is actually considered “commercial speech” and is governed by the FTC. Deceptive commercial speech – also known as “deceptive advertising” – is forbidden, so the very first thing you need to know about testimonials is that they’re “real” because they’re required by federal law to be real.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is charged with policing trade and commerce, and in fact, the FTC has published a downloadable PDF containing its official guidance on the correct (read:legal) use of endorsements and testimonials.
The rules regarding endorsements and testimonials have come about because it’s difficult – sometimes impossible – for a potential consumer to know whether a person’s or company’s endorsement is paid or unpaid. What appear to be spontaneous or unsolicited endorsements can actually be paid for. A consumer’s behavior might change, or they may react to the endorsement differently if they know that the endorser was paid to say nice things about a product or service.
The bottom line for you as an advertiser is that if your customers give testimonials about your products or services without receiving any kind of compensation, you’re home free. No disclosure is required. These are actually the best kinds of testimonials to publish.
The bottom line for you as an endorser is that if you receive something in exchange (and “something” doesn’t have to be money), and it is not CLEAR that you got something of value for making your statement, you should disclose your relationship with the advertiser.
If you’d like more information about using customer testimonials on your website or business marketing materials, please contact our Creative Director, Dave Ramsell or give Dave a call at (330) 243-0651 to set up a consultation.
Photo Credit: Davide Guglielmo, via FreeImages.com