Customer testimonials can be a great tool for small businesses with limited marketing budgets.
After all, what better way to show customers you can get the job done than ringing endorsements from previous customers? But if you're thinking of using customer testimonials for your business, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Here are five legal tips for using customer testimonials in your marketing materials:
Need legal advice on how your small business should operate? Consult with an experienced business attorney about your options.
Testimonials must be truthful. According to the Federal Trade Commission's Revised Endorsement Guidelines, the most important rule for testimonials is that they be truthful. This means that the customer testimonials can't be from people who weren't actually customers or didn't try any of the products they are raving about.
Any connection between you and the endorser must be disclosed. Any connection between you and the source of the testimonial that might affect how people evaluate the testimonial -- such as a family relationship or getting paid for the endorsement -- should be disclosed, according the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Testimonials can't make claims that require proof you don't have. Subjective claims in testimonials such as "I loved my experience" or "I'm happy with my results" are most likely fine as long as they are truthful. However, objective claims, such as the curing of a disease, must be backed up by actual proof.
Don't mislead consumers about expectations. Testimonials that claim specific results should match the results other customers can expect, advises the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. Simply saying "results may vary" may not be sufficient. If the testimonial describes results that are not typical, this fact must be disclosed conspicuously and the general expected results must be described in the ad.
Get written permission from customers to use their testimonials for commercial purposes. Obtain the written permission of a customer before using his or her testimonial, especially if the testimonial includes identifying information such as the customer's name, age, or photograph. That way you can prove the customer agreed to the commercial use of her image, name, etc., if that ever becomes an issue.