When Fake Testimonials Cost a Company $300K


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Wondering how far the FTC wants to take its new standards? Apparently right to the bank. And perhaps the fact that the State of New York won a court battle over fake testimonials spurred them on.

Lifestyle Lift forced their employees to write glowing reviews of the procedure, as if they were paying and very satisfied customers. This was reported in the New York Times article: “Company Settles Case of Reviews It Faked” back in July. The lawsuit cost the company $300K in penalties.

So, how important is it that you pay close attention to the new FTC regulations? Very. Though LifeStyle Lift is probably a much larger corporation than most one-person shows online, you still can’t use bogus testimonials. Neither can you use testimonials that showcase specific results. For example, if someone bought your information product and gained 5,000 people on his or her list or another bought your weight-loss product and lost 40 pounds, you can’t be specific about their successes.

Why?

It’s not typical.

There is a way to use the specifics, if you want to state emphatically that MOST people don’t do anything with the information products that they purchase, but it’s really not that conducive to sales.

What’s a marketer to do?

Use testimonials that aren’t specific. People can say that they like your teaching style, that they respect you as a person, or that they love your program. These are still social proof that someone has used your product and found merit in it. No, these testimonials won’t be as strong, and it will probably take time for buyers to get their minds away from specific kinds, but eventually, they’ll just be a thing of the past. Nobody will notice anymore.

But here’s a kicker… They need to STILL be using the product and STILL endorse it for you to be able to use the testimonial. You have to check back with them periodically to be sure they’re still satisfied customers.

The whole thing is that you don’t want to get yourself into legal hot water. In fact, I’m not an attorney. I’m writing my interpretation of what I’ve learned from attorneys, but you need to talk to your own attorney and make sure that what you’re doing won’t get you into trouble.

It’s getting tough out there. Stay on top of the news, if you want to run a business that’s legal trouble free.

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