A quick visit to the Federal Trade Commission's website will show you the latest issues that are in the government agency's crosshairs, from student loan scams to wristbands that claim to prevent mosquito bites.
The goal? To protect America's consumers from misleading advertising and other unethical or deceptive business practices.
As reported on the ProofHQ blog, there's been a flurry of marketing compliance activity from the FTC in recent months. But who has the time to keep up with all of the updated guidelines, some of which are 16 pages long? (We're looking at you, "Enforcement Policy Statement on Deceptively Formatted Advertisements.")
After all, you've got marketing materials to produce, which hopefully look like marketing materials instead of news, feature articles, or product reviews.
Save time by perusing Kelsey Uebelhor's article, "6 Valuable Marketing Lessons You Can Learn from the FTC," excerpted below.
"Marketers have a sort of love/hate relationship with the FTC. Think of the FTC as your frenemy. On the one hand, it can be extremely tedious (and at times, can seem downright impossible) to keep up with the ever-changing guidelines that the FTC puts into place to protect consumers from unfair and dishonest marketing. On the other hand, like the best friend who offers you sound advice that you don't want to hear, you know that, ultimately, the FTC is looking out not only for the consumer but your best interests as well."
Use Common Sense
Uebelhor's six tips don't share anything you don't already know. But six little reminders never hurt. After all, you probably see other companies breaking the rules all the time, both in your own industry and in others, and it's easy to become complacent. Just remember to:
Be Transparent. Don't hide who you are or what you're trying to do. Don't trick people into taking action.
Use Clear and Simple Wording. This ties into the first tip. Make your language concise and easily understandable for all consumers.
Display Disclosures Prominently. Clear and prominent disclosures will not only help you avoid FTC penalties, they'll also cement your reputation as an honest and respectable brand.
Avoid Distracting Factors. Distractions that take away from either your message or important disclaimers will be viewed as dishonest marketing.
Use Data Wisely. Big data can be appropriately used to gain a deeper understanding of your consumers, but it has a dark side. Be responsible.
Follow the Golden Rule. This one is simple. Market to others as you would wish them to market to you.
Make Compliance Part of Your Process
Once you've bought into the importance of marketing compliance, following the rules doesn't have to interrupt your otherwise smoothly running marketing processes. A digital proofing solution is a simple and effective way to invite all stakeholders (including your legal team) to review and approve assets in one collaborative space.
This way, everyone involved in the project can see the changes that are being requested by legal in real-time, making those particular problems much less likely to occur in the future. Which in turn makes it much less likely that your brand will ever be featured on the FTC's homepage, alongside college loan scams and mosquito bracelets.
To learn more about how better work management can keep you safe on FTC compliance, you can download ProofHQ's free ebook, "The Beginner's Guide to Marketing Compliance."
About the Author
Over the last 9 years, Marcus has worked in every type of content—from writing to video production to design—and is currently a senior content marketing manager at Workfront. His focus is always on breaking through the clutter while engaging audiences with brands' most foundational messaging. He currently oversees all corporate- and awareness-level level content at Workfront.Follow on Twitter More Content by Marcus Varner