New FTC Thing Is A Bigger Deal Than You Might Think

FTC Declares Shenanigans On All Kinds Of Stuff!

OK. Before we begin, let me make the following disclaimer: I AM NOT A LAWYER, NONE OF THIS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED LEGAL ADVICE.

(Duh!)

Onward…

Most people think the new FTC guidelines are aimed at stopping those fake blog sites.

You know the ones, right? Where the “blogger” is a totally non existent person and it’s just some made up story to promote a CPA offer?

I’m sure you’ve seen them.

Here’s a list of fake weight loss blogs
http://www.weightlossweapons.com/blog/weight-loss-scam-sites/

…And here’s a list of fake “Make Money” blogs:
http://workathometruth.com/classifieds/m-fake-mon/

And while I’m sure these fake blogs played a major role in the FTC ruling, all those people telling you that this is all about blogs …

ARE WRONG.

Here’s the deal:

First, if you’re getting paid to sell something on a blog, yeah, you should go ahead and let people know. Maybe mention it in the TOS, or maybe say something like, “If you decide to get this thing, click this link first and they’ll pay me a little commission money so I can finally retire to that little fishing village in Mexico!” (<---Like I said, this is not legal advice! Get advice on this from a real lawyer and NOT me.) Personally, I don't think the whole "blog thing" is that big of a deal for REAL marketers like us and I think it'll be super easy to comply with the FTC.

BUT HERE’S WHAT THEY’RE NOT TELLING YOU.

These new guidelines are a whole lot more serious than this blog business.

They also cover how you can use testimonials …and this is likely to PERMANENTLY change the way we do business.

Here’s the interpretation straight from my FTC lawyer, Gary:

“…The most significant change to the revised guides is the deletion of the “safe harbor” that has long allowed advertisers to use testimonials who reported specific successful experiences with an advertised product or service as long as the advertiser included a disclaimer such as “Results not typical.” Under the revised Guides, advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect.”

Umm …right. Here’s the “Kern Translation”:

Let’s say you sell an exercise DVD.

And let’s say you’ve got a customer …we’ll call her “Patsy” …let’s say Patsy followed your DVD to the letter, worked out like crazy, watched what she ate, and lost 950 pounds.

Now, let’s say Patsy wrote you a testimonial and said “I lost 950 pounds thanks to this DVD!”.

Nothing weird there, right?

Up until these guidelines came out, you could be really safe by simply putting the standard “results not typical” disclaimer on your site. You’ve seen it 100 times, right?

It goes something like this: “Results not typical. Your results may vary.”

No big deal …up until now.

Here’s the key phrase form the “official” paragraph above:

    required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect.


What this means is that if you have a testimonial where someone gets an amazing result using your product, you’ve got to follow it up by saying something like this:

Results not typical. The average user uses this DVD as a coaster for their Big Gulp and never loses any weight at all.

And frankly, even doing that might be dangerous if you say “the average user uses this DVD as a coaster” because the FTC could theoretically argue that …well, you’re implying that therefore all anyone has to do is NOT use the DVD as a coaster and they’ll lose 950 pounds.

See? Easy to screw that one up.

Here’s more from my man Gary: “The FTC also said that it believes that it is “likely” that testimonials that present the specific experiences of a product user (e.g., the number of pounds or inches lost) will be viewed as claiming that those experiences are typical of what consumers will generally experience.”

Mmm hmm. Trouble with a capitol “T” right there, buddy.

Here’s the sentence that get’s you: viewed as claiming that those experiences are typical of what consumers will generally experience

In my opinion, this means that if you say Pasty lost 950 pounds, the FTC will view this as you saying the TYPICAL USER will lose 950 pounds.

And if you don’t have documented proof out the wazoo showing that the typical user loses 950 pounds, you’re hosed.

Here’s what this means to you

OK. Basically, if you use a testimonial that shows someone really hitting it out of the park, you can’t say “results not typical”.

You gotta say something like “Results not typical. The average user experiences XYZ.”

And if you don’t know what the average user’s results are, you’d either better find out …or simply not use these types of testimonials at all.

But this doesn’t mean that ALL testimonials are this serious. From what I understand, you don’t have to worry about any disclaimers if you’re using testimonials where your customers simply say they like your product, like you, and are happy with their purchase.

…It’s only when you’re conveying a specific result.

Here’s my advice

COMPLY, BY GOD!!

Look. Many marketers are going to scheme for days on how to “get around” this new ruling.

Don’t waste your time. You don’t “get around” the FTC. If you’re worried that a certain testimonial will get you in trouble, don’t use it.

In my experience, testimonials are overrated anyway.

My Mass Control sales video didn’t have any (but I did use them in pre-launch. I won’t do that any more.)

And our current “Screw Google” promotion doesn’t have any either.

If you deliver enough value BEFORE asking for the sale, you should be able to sell plenty of stuff forever.

We’re SUPER lucky as Internet Marketers because when you build a list, you can constantly be providing great value for your subscribers for free …and when it’s time for you to sell something, they don’t need too much convincing.

Anyway – that’s my take on this whole FTC thing.

Hopefully, it clears things up for you and will help you keep your nose clean!

Frank

P.S. I almost forgot to make this point. Any time you have a major change in marketing like this, you’ll see a big drop off in competition.

Lots of people will either screw themselves by not complying with the new regulations, or they’ll try to comply but fail to sell anything because they’re not delivering enough up-front value. Or they’ll just say, “aww …to hell with it” and quit.

All three of these scenarios do nothing but clear the way for you to get more customers by eliminating your competition.

Selling stuff is easy. All you gotta do is give away stuff that makes people happy …and then sell stuff that makes ’em even happier.

No over-the-top testimonials needed :-)

Now get out there and make some money!

*** If you enjoyed reading this blog, your results are not typical. The average reader eventually says to himself, “Shit. I shoulda just watched Family Guy or something.” Absolutely nothing in this post should be considered legal or professional advice. Seek the care and advice of a normal and sane person.


583 Comments so far »

  1. Running An Internet Business? Read This! | Rock Star Lifestyle Design said

    am January 28 2010 @ 8:43 am

    […] you want to learn more about FTC stuff, I suggest you head over and read this post by Frank Kern, who knows a thing or 2 about the FTC and […]

  2. Best Clickbank Products said

    am February 16 2010 @ 9:34 am

    nice writing Frank, Thanks for keeping us in the know..as always… :)

  3. Social Media said

    am March 2 2010 @ 10:58 am

    Makes perfect sense. Add this thinking to the new CORE product/video and you’ll be good to go!

  4. Pollynkorect said

    am March 3 2010 @ 4:22 pm

    Too bad the FTC (or a similar agency) doesn’t regulate politicians and the promises & claims they make.

  5. christian louboutin said

    am March 6 2010 @ 12:10 am

    it is interesting and informative article. This has been very helpful understanding a lot

    of things. I’m sure a lot of other people will agree with me.

  6. Todd A. Bishop said

    am March 24 2010 @ 11:27 pm

    Thank You for the update Frank,

    I was told something a long time ago about matters such as this, and the reasoning behind not saying things like, the average person used it as a coaster
    and that is, what, and or why for.

    I was informed not to assume what actually happened or will, since with out actually being present to the events, you really are not presenting facts. This in turn just might get you sued for deplemation of character.

    Weight loss programs can not calculate all the variables involved with
    the average person and how each persons body responds to daily events, such as stress, proper eating cycles, proper hydration, the amount of calories taken in verses the amount burned, and or how many times you chew your food.

  7. escorts sydney said

    am March 25 2010 @ 2:52 am

    I just think the FTC is just a bit hasty. If the commercial ads compile, that would be a good sign

  8. Computer Repair Manchester said

    am March 25 2010 @ 12:23 pm

    Someone gets an amazing result using this product

  9. Chuck Strogish said

    am April 19 2010 @ 11:13 pm

    FTC pretty much says the more money you make or successful you are, the more likely we are going to try to target your blog and sue you for all your $$$ since you have lots.

  10. Danny Scahill said

    am April 22 2010 @ 2:56 am

    That simplifies the FTC 81 page PDF report! Cheers Frank, as always thanks for your down to earth straight forward tips!

  11. Jasper Norton said

    am April 29 2010 @ 2:40 pm

    Very informative, thank you

  12. best reviews said

    am May 5 2010 @ 5:42 pm

    Yup… alot of marketing forget about these guidelines. I will always be keeping up with the latest FTC regulations when it comes to my pre-sale. I do this full time now and would hate to see my site shutdown over a stupid mistake on my part.

  13. best products reviews said

    am May 12 2010 @ 11:57 pm

    I agree. But it all comes down to the saying, “Honesty is the best policy!”

  14. spyware remove said

    am May 19 2010 @ 5:41 pm

    i search your blog form bing,great post,thanks for share

  15. Troy said

    am June 3 2010 @ 4:02 am

    Hey Frank,

    I know i’m a little late out of the blocks. This can be a good thing for the evidence based practitioner and marketer. Let’s hope you’re right and competition wanes a little for the weight loss & get fit market.

    love all your videos too mate.

    cheers

  16. New FTC Thing Is A Bigger Deal Than You Might Think: Web Site Promotion & Internet Marketing said

    am June 4 2010 @ 7:31 pm

    […] var fbShare = {url: ‘http://www.justinkunst.com/new-ftc-thing-is-a-bigger-deal-than-you-might-think/’,size:’large’} From the RSS Feeds of Frank Kern: View full post on Mass Control […]

  17. Laptop Repair Manchester said

    am June 11 2010 @ 10:49 am

    Want to say your article is outstanding. The clarity in your post is simply striking and i can assume you are an expert on this field. Well with your permission allow me to grab your rss feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work

  18. rotherham web design said

    am June 13 2010 @ 7:14 pm

    Want to say your article is outstanding. The clarity in your post is simply striking and i can assume you are an expert on this field. Well with your permission allow me to grab your rss feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work

  19. fb siphon said

    am June 23 2010 @ 9:49 am

    Yeh you are right. I can see things are getting more difficult in the future.

  20. anonymous proxy web said

    am June 28 2010 @ 12:29 pm

    Happy to see your blog as it is just what I’ve looking for and excited to read all the posts. I am looking forward to another great article from you.

  21. Jerseys said

    am July 13 2010 @ 9:25 pm

    Yes, some Internet marketers give Internet marketing a bad name. But then now it’s the Internet age, where consumers talk and complain about bad marketers.

  22. IT support Manchester said

    am July 25 2010 @ 9:22 am

    Want to say your article is outstanding. The clarity in your post is simply striking and i can assume you are an expert on this field.

  23. Sim Aurile said

    am July 29 2010 @ 3:03 am

    Thanks for explaining this so well..I appreciate it!

  24. rotherham web design said

    am August 26 2010 @ 2:38 pm

    Thanks for the great post Frank, just discovered your site and will be subscribing.

  25. Cho Yung Tea Review said

    am August 27 2010 @ 4:07 am

    It was a beneficial workout for me to go through your webpage. It definitely stretches the limits with the mind when you go through very good info and make an effort to interpret it properly

  26. rotherham tyres said

    am August 30 2010 @ 3:58 am

    Want to say your article is outstanding. The clarity in your post is simply striking and i can assume you are an expert on this field.

  27. charmed escorts said

    am September 5 2010 @ 7:52 pm

    love this comment Frank: “Lots of people will either screw themselves by not complying with the new regulations, or they’ll try to comply but fail to sell anything because they’re not delivering enough up-front value. Or they’ll just say, “aww …to hell with it” and quit”…

  28. escorts files said

    am September 5 2010 @ 7:55 pm

    Thanks for this post Frank. Very informative and I love how you tackle this topic.

  29. condoms said

    am September 15 2010 @ 6:47 am

    Frank never disappoints with these posts :)

  30. peter said

    am September 17 2010 @ 5:13 am

    Hey Frank
    Thanks a lot for this wonderful post. It is really great. How you manage to get so much information? I am impressed.

  31. Nikki May | Copywriting Services said

    am September 25 2010 @ 7:26 pm

    Thanks Frank,

    I have been looking for some info on FTC – and this has been very helpful.

    Internet marketing is increasingly being affect by these regulations – and it’s important for every internet market to stay on top of these developments.

    I also wanted to say thanks for valuable tips and info on your blog. I am learning a lot!

    Nikki

  32. Kaloyan Roussev said

    am October 11 2010 @ 3:02 am

    I live in Europe and I sell stuff through internet, some of it through US sites. Does this FTC thing concern me, too? Or everything FTC says, for that matter?

  33. Well…What’s next in Internet Marketing. Finding out Quick can Make or Break You said

    am October 20 2010 @ 3:04 pm

    […] in security and the new FTC rulings, here it is again from our friend Frank Kern put in layman terms. Or just peruse his site and the internet and you’ll find many ways for […]

Comment RSS · TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Name: (Required)

eMail: (Required)

Website:

Comment: