Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Marketing: What's the Law Got To Do With It?

Marketing. We see it around us everyday. Professionals charge for it. Many wonder why pay a professional when it looks easy on Yahoo, blog on Google, Facebook page, brochures at Kinko's.  Some business owners think they can handle marketing themselves until one innocent mistake lands the company in a legal mess.

What's law got to do with it? Everything. And a marketing professional knows how to protect businesses from needless litigation.

Every company no matter how small or large must follow simple rules when marketing itself. One false step could mean the end not only to the marketing campaign but the business.

Photos & Videos - Every company needs to obtain permission from every person whose image appears on their website, Facebook page, brochures, presentations, etc. The same goes for logos or identifying marks of other companies or their products.  This permission needs to be in writing and give the company all rights to use the image. Once an image appears online, assume its out there forever even if you try to remove it.  If you or your employee posted it, your company is responsible for the image being online.

Testimonials - Recommendations of customers are powerful.  Before posting a sentence of praise from that thank you letter on your website, the author of the letter must be notified and approve of this usage.  While they may be thankful for the wonderful job you did for them, they may not want others to know that they used your services or be associated with your company going forward.  Its their name and they have control over how its used.  And don't think about posting that testimonial without identifying who said it. That hot water can really burn you in the public eye.

Claims - We want to let everyone know how wonderful our company, product or service is and how it will change their lives. We are utimately selling a product afteralll. In marketing we talk about the attributes and benefits of a product but should not make a claim.  A new drink may have less in calories but it won't make you thinner.  Think about the old fashioned "snake oil" salesmen.  They claimed that their products would cure every ailment under the sun but rarely did.  Many who dip their toe into marketing make the mistake of claiming that their product will perform a miracle and when it doesn't....they hear from customers and the attorneys.

Don't end up in a legal mess from an innocent marketing mistake.  Consult a marketing professional and ask for guidance before its too late. While we may not have gone to law school, we've worked with plenty of those suits and know how to protect you and your company.