While we’re all aware that marketing is a vital component of making any business, lots of bloggers, solopreneurs and other entrepreneurs don’t actually think much about the rules and regulations behind marketing that also come into play.
To ensure you protect yourself and your venture, it’s important to know the basics. Read on for some top marketing compliance tips you should know about and implement today.
1. Copyrighted Material
In your business, you’ll likely use photos, infographics, videos or other content at some point that has been created by someone other than yourself or your employees.
To stay safe, don’t misuse any copyrighted options. Keep in mind that the copyright for anything you didn’t create yourself, in-house, doesn’t belong to you. You must get permission to use other people’s work.
This permission often varies depending on how you want to use the content, but it is particularly strict in commercial instances.
To protect your business from legal issues, take steps to cover yourself. For example, use works found in a public domain repository.
Even though these works once had copyright on them, they are now available for everyone to use.
There are also many great websites available that provide images and other graphics either for a small fee or for free.
They generally list the restrictions on the use of the material (e.g. it might be fine for personal use but not commercial or okay to use in any way as long as the creator receives attribution), so pay close attention.
Regardless of which you use, always read the fine print closely first.
When it comes to building and using email marketing lists, you also have to be careful.
Ensure you don’t obtain people’s email addresses in any way where they have not given their consent, and never spam recipients either.
Each e-newsletter must have an unsubscribe link on it which is easy for people to use if they want to remove themselves from your list. Honor all unsubscribe requests within 10 days.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the subject lines of your email marketing messages have to reflect the content in them.
You’re not allowed to bait people to open messages by writing subjects that grab attention but have nothing to do with what people will find inside.
In addition, remember to label emails if any of the content within them is adult in nature.
Contests can be a good way to drum up interest, but there are rules and regulations about how they must be run.
For example, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and various state and local agencies monitor these things to ensure people are following guidelines; plus many social media sites, such as Facebook, also have standards that affect competitions.
There are numerous guidelines to be aware of, so do your research to find out exactly what applies to your business.
For instance, don’t try to make people pay to enter a sweepstake (contests may or may not have an entrance fee, but sweepstakes can’t), truthfully disclose all of the rules, eligibility requirements and other details you’ve put in place for the competition and be sure winners are determined fairly.
4. Comparison Marketing
Many businesses engage in comparison marketing, where they compare their products or services in some way to another organization’s offerings.
However, it’s important to realize there are various laws and guidelines to follow when it comes to this style of advertising.
Carefully choose the language you use whenever you compare your wares to that of another company, whether this is done directly by name or by illustration or some other kind of distinctive information.
Comparative claims must be made in an ethical way that involves a fair and objective comparison. Ensure you have proven facts available to back up your claims.
5. Advertising Special Offers
Entrepreneurs often create special offers to generate sales; however many people aren’t clear on the regulations surrounding this practice.
To cover yourself, make sure that any time you offer free or discounted items or services, free gifts, free shipping etc., you make the terms and conditions of these offers clear in your advertisements.
Consumers must be able to easily understand what is being promised to them. Plus, of course, you must also supply what you promise. For instance, don’t offer zero-cost shipping and then add in a new handling fee. This is deceptive.
It’s vital for all businesses to engage in marketing activities to help build a brand, generate leads and get more sales. Make sure that no matter what type of marketing you choose to use, you also protect yourself by staying compliant.