Dale L. Sims, Stealth Sales Strategist: The # 1 advocate for self-help marketers.

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Is This Why Sales of Your Fat-Loss Product Stink?

weight loss ads, fat loss ads

“Hmm. I think I’m gonna kiss dieting supplements goodbye forever.”

Discover the Hypocritical Attack Your Government is Waging Against Your Business (Part 1)

This may not surprise you as much as it once did…

…but there’s a government agency telling the media and public you’re probably a scam artist.

It’s true.

Your accuser here is the advertising industry’s watchdog, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This January, the agency posted an article on its website titled: Gut Check: A Reference Guide for Media on Spotting False Weight Loss Claims.

While its stated audience is the media, it’s easily viewed by your prospects.

The article’s aim is to enlist the media to “censor” the ads and promos you run on their programs, websites, and in their publications.

Why?

Because some of you marketers will target desperate consumers just to make a quick buck, the FTC claims. And you’ll use the reputation of respected media outlets to do it.

So what can you do to keep your business thriving?

As always, get knowledge.

So let’s do that by investigating these charges, then look at why they’re hypocritical.

Now read on and find the answers to…

What Else is the FTC Saying About You?

First, the general highlights. The agency says you may…

….make promises that consumers can lose weight without effort and sacrifice. These ads are false and deceptive, the FTC charges.

…cherry-pick your best testimonials—or even make them up—to fool prospects into thinking they’ll get the same results.

…run a fly-by-night operation. You may plan to score a quick killing, then vanish without paying vendors.

…use “limiting phrases”  in your promos that consumers may miss. For instance claiming a product “helps consumers lose substantial weight without diet or exercise.”  Or that customers can lose “up to three pounds a week for a month or more.”

….try to be sneaky with your promotion’s disclosure of how much weight the typical person can expect to lose. For instance, instead of placing it where it can be clearly read, you may bury it in footnotes, blocks of text, or legal language, or even hide it in other elements of your ad.

Oh yes, the FTC warns, a disclosure that just says “results not typical,” or “your results will vary” is not enough.

In part 2, you can inspect those gut check claims, or as the FTC calls them…

 

7 Statements in Your Ads That may be Tip-offs to Deception (Part 2)

You’re conning the public and media if you make the following claims, the agency warns.

And keep in mind these warnings apply not only to dietary supplements, but also to herbal remedies and over-the-counter drugs. Creams, wraps, patches and similar items worn on the body or rubbed into the skin are included as well.

Now here are the specifics, and the FTC’s reasoning:

Your claims are bogus and misleading if you promise your product…

  1.  Causes weight loss of two pounds or more a week for a month or more without dieting or exercise

Meaningful weight loss requires work and taking in fewer calories than you use. That’s it. Ads promising major fat loss without diet or exercise are false.

And ads claiming buyers can lose weight fast without changing their lifestyles – even without mentioning a specific amount of weight or length of time – are also untrue. This applies to subtler approaches such as referring to changes in dress size or lost inches as well.

False spins on this claim include:

  • “I lost 30 pounds in 30 days – and still ate all my favorite foods.”
  • “Lose up to 2 pounds a day without diet or exercise.”
  • “Drop four dress sizes in just a month without changing your eating habits or enduring back-breaking trips to the gym.
  1.  Leads to substantial weight loss no matter what or how much the consumer eats

You can’t eat unlimited amounts of food and still lose weight. Studies show to cut fat you have to burn more calories than you take in. If an ad says otherwise, its claim is false. 

Bogus claims include:

  • “Need to cut 20, 30, 40 pounds or more?  Eat your fill of all the foods you crave and watch the weight disappear!
  • “Who needs rabbit food? Enjoy any mouth-watering foods you want anytime you want, and blast away dress sizes and belt notches.”
  1.  Results in permanent weight loss even after the consumer stops using product

Without long-term lifestyle changes–sensible food choices and more activity–weight loss won’t last once customers stop using the product.

Don’t trust any product that promises once-and-for-all fat-loss results without lifelong efforts.

These claims are misleading:

  • “Take it off and keep it off. Kiss dieting goodbye forever.”
  • “It’s not another weight loss gimmick. It’s a unique metabolism accelerator that changes how your body burns fat. Why settle for temporary weight loss when you can get rid of those flabby thighs and that unsightly muffin top once and for all.”
  1. Blocks the absorption of fat or calories to enable consumers to lose substantial weight

Doctors, dieticians, and other experts agree: There’s no magic way to lose weight without diet or exercise.

And those pills approved by the FDA to block the absorption of fat or help you eat less and feel full? Not going to work unless combined with a low-calorie, low-fat diet, and regular exercise.

Deceptive claims include:

  • “Super Flablock Formula is an energized enzyme that can absorb up to 900 times its own weight in fat.  Relax and enjoy rich favorites like ice cream, butter, and cheese, confident that you’ll still blast off up to 5 pounds per week – or more!”
  • “Block fat before your body absorbs it. The pounds and inches will melt away.”
  1. Safely enables consumers to lose more than three pounds per week for more than four weeks

Losing more than three pounds a week over several weeks can result in gallstones and other health complications, medical experts agree.  So if an ad says dieters can safely and quickly lose a dramatic amount of weight on their own, it’s false. And–it can ruin their life.

Faulty claims include:

  • “Slash up to 10 pounds a week safely and effectively. Imagine looking into the mirror two months from now and seeing a slim reflection.”
  • “Even if you have 40, 50, 60 or more pounds to drop, doctors recommend Fat Foe as the no-risk way to blast off the weight and inches in a few short months.”
  1. Causes substantial weight loss for all users

Because people’s bodies and lifestyles are different, no product will cause every user to drop large amounts of weight. Any ad that makes a universal promise of success is false.

Untrue claims include:

  • “Lose 10-15-20 pounds. Gelaslim works for everyone, no matter how many times you’ve tried and failed.”
  • “Maybe you want to drop a dress size before that get-together next month or perhaps you need to take off 50 pounds or more. Your search for a weight loss miracle is over. We’ve found the diet supplement guaranteed to work 100% of the time – regardless of how much you want to lose.”
  1. Leads to substantial weight loss if a person wears it (the product) on their body or rubs it into their skin

Weight loss is an internal metabolic process. Nothing you wear or apply to the skin can cause major weight loss. So fat-loss claims for patches, creams, lotions, wraps, body belts, earrings, and the like are false.

Invalid claims include:

  • “Ancient healers knew that a metabolism-boosting energy current runs from the earlobe to the stomach, making it easy to shed 30, 40, even 50 pounds. That’s the secret behind our Dieter’s Earrings.”
  • “Rub Melt-X Gel into your problem areas and watch the active ingredient penetrate the skin layers to melt fat at the cellular level. You’ll melt away 20 pounds in just a month.”
  • “Our patent-pending body wrap will increase the metabolism around your hips to burn fat faster.  You’ll zap 2-3 pounds per week just by wearing the body wrap while relaxing.  Vaporize 25 pounds in 8 short weeks.”

So stay out of the FTC’s crosshairs by keeping this info in mind when you produce your promotions.

Ironically though, one of the major things you must do to achieve that is forgotten by the FTC in this release.

So…

Why Isn’t the FTC Practicing what it Preaches?

In the introduction to their Dietary Supplements: An Advertising Guide for Industry, the FTC stresses that all advertising must be truthful, not misleading, and SUBSTANTIATED.

So how does the FTC substantiate their gut check claims?

Prestigious university studies? Research by eminent scientists?

No. Surprisingly, the agency doesn’t provide proof for their findings. And even though there’s no selling involved, the agency is asking readers to accept a lot without any backup.

Sure, they may have the info somewhere. But since it isn’t with their claims, it fails their own “Clear and conspicuous” policy.

Does this mean their charges are false?

Not necessarily.

But how do readers know if they’re true and not part of an agenda?

They don’t.

It’s just another example of the federal government saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Obviously, this doesn’t change your responsibilities to prove your promises in your promotions.

In fact, you can use this 2-step process recommended by the FTC…

First, identify all express and implied claims in your ad.

Then assess the scientific evidence and decide if there’s adequate support for your claims.

Also, the agency mandates that if weight-loss testimonials portray non-typical results, you must reveal what kind of outcome buyers can actually expect. And, ahem, these disclosures must be clear and conspicuous.

Of course, performing the above method of ad interpretation and substantiation may require more time and knowledge than you have.

But you can resolve this faster and easier than you may think.

You got it–by contacting me.

So let’s end on this invitation…

Just fill out the easy form below.  You’ll quickly find out how to get the help you need to solve your problem.

 

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