HEY MARKETERS: Want to create winning USPs for your products or services? Then get my 24-page action guide: “Finding Your Self-Help Product’s Unique Selling Proposition: 9 Coveted Copywriting Secrets That’ll Catapult Your Products Above the Competition.” Want quick content ideas for original articles? Grab my 40-page e-book: “Showcase Your Skills—and Knowledge—with Long-Form Stealth Marketing.” Use the form below center to get your free PERSONALIZED copies.
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.
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.
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…
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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?
But how do readers know if they’re true and not part of an agenda?
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.