Home Based Internet Business: Pay Attention To Advertising Laws

This post was written by Internet Marketing John on June 29, 2010
Posted Under: Home Based Internet Business

850e09ffIt’s important to pay attention to advertising laws regardless of how small or large your home based internet business becomes.

If you fail to pay attention to advertising laws; it could cost you your business and everything else you own in this life.

Many newcomers to the Internet often start their home based Internet businesses on a shoestring and learn by doing.

They subscribe to membership sites to learn about Internet marketing, throw up some blogs or a website, and gradually grow their businesses as they learn more and more about what to do.

It doesn’t matter if you have just started a small home based internet business, or have an ongoing business with millions of dollars in gross sales; you need to comply with and pay attention to advertising laws.

Of all the advertising laws that can potentially affect your business, the areas below are what most frequently cause problems with both large and small businesses.

  • Product Misrepresentation

Pay attention to advertising laws regarding misrepresentation of products.

This is a “biggie”.  You must give your consumers an accurate representation of what you are selling them.

Always provide text, audios, photos, or videos that accurately describe your product or service.

For instance, if you are selling antique fishing lures on your website; you must describe all nicks, chipped paint, rusted hooks, or missing hardware that the lure exhibits.

Provide close up pictures of the lure from several angles, to accurately show any defects and if the box is included with the lure, provide the same for it.  You cannot touch up the photos to make the lure more sale-able to the consumer.

You must also not misrepresent the facts as you know them about the product.

If the lure is a replica or a refurbished 1917 antique vintage lure “THE FLY ROD WIGGLER”; you MUST state in the text description that it is a replica, or that it has been repainted.

You cannot misrepresent the facts by omitting that information, or suggesting that the lure is a vintage original, when you know as a matter of fact, that it wasn’t.

  • Making Unsubstantiated Claims

You must be able to provide a reasonable basis of proof for every factual claim in your advertising copy.

Pay attention to advertising laws regarding unsubstantiated claims especially for services you provide.  The substantiation must exist before you make any claims.

Just because someone may be able to realize the benefit that is stated in your advertising, or just because a couple of people have achieved the results that you tout in your advertising; is not sufficient enough when your claims lead people to believe that any average consumer can achieve the benefits you have advertised.

It’s important to pay attention to advertising laws and fully understand them.  In this case, you must be able to substantiate factual claims with iron clad proof that there is a reasonable basis for each claim.

Newcomers sometimes use copy with claims such as “tests prove”, or “recommended by physicians”, or “leading experts state that …..”.  If you use copy with these statements; be prepared to provide proof that will stand up to scrutiny.

When you are making nutrition, health, or safety claims; there is a high threshold of substantiation you need to adhere to.

You had better have solid reliable evidence in the form of an independent double blind study to support your claims, or a study group of sufficient size to provide reliable data.

  • Simulations

Simulated real situations can get you into trouble if don’t fully disclose all the facts.

Retouched “before and after” photos or videos, such as showing someone easily cleaning silverware by dipping it only once into your cleaning product; when in fact it was dipped several times; will will cause you problems, if you don’t provide full disclosure.

Never try to pull the wool over your consumer’s eyes with simulations that do not portray actual facts.

  • Fake testimonials

People making testimonials must actually use your product or service!  If you pay someone for their testimonial, you need to disclose that fact unless the person giving the endorsement is well known, a celebrity, or an expert in the field.

  • Comparisons

Merchandise and price comparisons can get you into trouble if you don’t compare “apples to apples”.

When you use “sale” or “reduced” or “$1,500 value”, you must have the product offered at that price or value, for a reasonable time.

If you suggest that the product or service you are selling is sold elsewhere online for $50 more than your products; you must be able to furnish proof that the item has been selling for that price.

Don’t throw around terms like “inventory reduction sale”, “inventory clearance”, “going out of business sale”, or “special purchase”.

These terms should only be used when you are actually having an overstock inventory clearance or you are actually going out of business.  Some stores seem to be going out of business for years, yet remain on the Internet or still maintain a storefront.

  • Guarantees and Warranties

If you advertise a guarantee or a warranty, you must spell out the terms and limitations that apply.

If you do business by mail.  You must spell out your refund and return policy.

If you have an “unconditional money back” guarantee for unsatisfied customers; you must also state if your shipping and handling costs are included, or if any restocking charges apply for larger, more expensive items.

It’s important to pay attention to advertising laws and to comply with them, if you plan to maintain your credibility and run a professional home based Internet business.

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