All businesses need effective marketing to ensure they increase awareness and build hype for their product or service. However, while it may seem like you can do whatever you like to market your products, the reality is that there are rules and regulations all businesses must adhere to. Failing to stick to the right side of the law in your marketing efforts could lead to fines and sanctions, which could impact cash flow and damage your reputation.
Only Use Available Images
From your blog posts to graphic content and beyond, images are a crucial element of marketing. However, you cannot use images you do not own or which do not fall under free use. Your small business can make use of the best stock photo resources to add images to websites, blog posts, and emails or take photographs yourself, especially for products. Other options include signing up to paid stock photo services like Shutterstock, which can provide a broader, better range of images. That all being said, you should never pull any images from Google or other search engines to use on your website. If you do not have the proper licensing or permissions to use an image, you can get penalized, even if it is an image that is used on an article that you are featured in. In other words, aside from your own photography, if you do not pay for the image or use a free stock photo, then chances are high that you cannot use that photo.
Be Transparent With Your Posts and Emails
You also need to promote transparency in all communication with your customers. This factor includes avoiding headlines that mislead the recipient or opening a new email account under a false moniker to trick customers into purchasing a product. Furthermore, any posts designed to be ads but presented as natural posts must be clearly stated in order to ensure you do not further mislead anyone who views them.
Be Careful With Customer Data
Customer data is one of the most crucial things to remember when staying on the right side of the law in your marketing efforts. Since this data includes sensitive information, you need to do everything you can to ensure regulatory compliance in protecting this information. Do not collect data you don’t need or is irrelevant to your business. Do not sell data to third parties who can then contact your customers. Various states and regions have differing regulations surrounding how you use customer data, but it’s worth understanding all of them since you’ll likely service customers who live in various locations.
Follow Endorsement Protocols
Many businesses have found success with influencer marketing, but even these methods come with rules and regulations that could land you in hot water if you ignore them. Remind your influencers to highlight if they have been paid for a post and restrict them from talking about using the product if they haven’t since this falls into the misleading category again.
Do Not Restrict Reviews
Customer reviews are a great way to teach potential customers about your business. However, your company is not immune to bad reviews. Previously, businesses tried to get negative reviews removed through empty threats of legal action. This does not fly. It is illegal for businesses to remove, alter, or otherwise incentivize customers to avoid negative reviews on platforms like Google, so if you get a bad review, just deal with it and consider why the review was terrible. Furthermore, by replying to bad reviews and starting a conversation, it shows that you care about how your customers percieve you. That being said, it is always a good idea to reply to good reviews as well to thank them for using your business.
Doing It Right
While you might never intend to commit marketing fraud or misuse images, there is the chance that you (or your employees) could make a mistake. Unfortunately, accidental behavior can still affect your business. This is why it’s so important to adhere to policies and regulations to keep your business on the right side of the law.
If you have any questions about an image, ad campaign, or negative reviews, feel free to reach out to us today.