We all want those we deal with to be honest and truthful with us ‘? in fact, we expect it. Even the most deceitful crook expects his friends and associates to be honest with him.
It is this expectation of honesty that makes the use of testimonials in advertisements a very effective advertising tool – be they testimonials from celebrities or a testimonial from a complete unknown; subconsciously, we trust what they say.
There is a well-used formula for direct mail advertising, now commonly used by Internet marketers ‘? you know the one I mean. It starts with a big outrageous claim in a headline (usually in red) followed by steps 2,3,4 etc and usually containing two or three amazing testimonials and finishing with a signature, a PS: and a PPS:
In fact the testimonials are often so good that we consciously think ‘that can’t be true’ but subconsciously, we don’t discount it, we read on because we want to know how this is possible, and how can I get some of this?
New Regulations for Testimonials
As of 1st December 2009, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is enforcing new regulations concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising.
Under these new laws, any type of “material connection” between the endorser and the product or service being endorsed, including free services must be disclosed.
And the claims made in an endorsement or testimonial must be what consumers would typically experience; i.e., advertising the best-case scenario, if that scenario is not typical, is not acceptable.
What does this mean for us?
As a consumer, this is great news. At last someone is trying to put some regulation around outrageous claims, (A pet hate of mine).
If you are an advertiser in the US, or you are using a US domain name, you need to either replace your testimonials with more realistic ones or modify your testimonials with a disclaimer.
Sure there are a lot of loopholes in this new law, but the intent is clear. In my opinion, no matter where you operate in the world, you should follow this practice.
It is a matter of integrity. What do you think?