We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded left and right with advertisements and promotional materials. Unless you live in a cave, that is.
The advertising industry has been around for quite some time now but has taken on different forms since it started. From print ads, posters, and billboards to TV spots and digital media, it has taken on different shapes and sizes with only one goal: consumer awareness.
Its no longer just for multinational companies and bigger corporations. Nowadays, especially with digital media, smaller businesses now have better fighting chances against their more established competition. You are now more likely to see ads on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for a trendy walk-in closet organizer from a small company in the west or a shirt-printing business down south. The internet and social media have empowered a lot of smaller business owners and startup entrepreneurs and leveled the playing field for them.
Businesses — small or big — invest a good amount of money annually for their marketing and promotion, including paid advertisements. However, in certain cases, because of their desire to outdo the competition and get ahead of the game, they resort to false advertising.
False Advertising is never a good business practice
False advertising has been known to cause major headaches on companies that committed them. Whether these were unintentional or not, false advertising scandals have caused several brands millions of dollars in fines, settlements, and damages.
If you employ false advertising in your marketing strategy, these are some of the things that you’re risking:
- Be investigated by the Federal Trade Commission for falsifying your ad
- Receive a cease and desist order from running your ad
- Incur financial losses from money wasted on the ad, FTC fines, legal fees, and settlements
- Lose your trustworthiness in the market
You have to keep in mind that consumers nowadays are not only smarter but more vigilant, especially with the proliferation of online scamming. Thus, advertising truthfully — without making any false claims or exaggerations — will help build your credibility and integrity as a brand.
How can you avoid it in your business?
To avoid the headaches of false advertising, steer clear of it. Here are a few practical ways to avoid it in your business:
Be as accurate as you can be
Always state the truth in your ads. Don’t sugarcoat things just to increase your sales. Provide accurate information about your products or services and don’t make claims you cannot back up.
Be mindful of using material that isn’t yours or putting pictures of people on your ads without their permission
We understand that some advertisers might take some liberties and use the “fair use” doctrine in their ads but if you’re working with material that’s not yours, or if it features someone’s endorsement or picture, always ask for written permission before using them.
Don’t drag your competition’s name through the mud. If you’re comparing your products with them, you have to be truthful and accurate with your ads or risk being sued by them.
Make sure you have enough products on hand when you publish the ad
When you advertise, you also have to anticipate a potential increase in your product’s demand. For this reason, certain state laws require merchants to have a significant amount of stocks on hand to meet the demand. If you don’t have enough on hand, indicate in the ad that you have limited stocks available.
Be extra cautious with the word “free”
When you’re offering “free” products or services, be sure to state all underlying conditions, limitations, and terms to qualify for these freebies.
Avoid deceptive pricing
The price that you place in your ad should be truthful and accurate to the product you’re promoting. Deceptive pricing is also counted as false advertising, especially if you’re making doctored comparisons between the competition’s prices and your “regular” prices.
There should be enough evidence to back up your claims about your products and services
Advertising is supposed to showcase products in a positive light that gives it an edge over the competition but do not make any claims about your products or services that you cannot back up. Product reviews and user testimonies can help give your product authenticity and credibility but that can only be done if you have good enough products that meet people’s standards. You need to have evidence on hand to prove that your product works as you claim.
Advertising is important in our economy today. It doesn’t just help increase sales for advertisers but it also helps build stronger economies as businesses and industries begin to grow and provide better options for consumers. But for a company to have longevity and be trustworthy, it has to be truthful and unbiased with its marketing and promotion. If you see any ad that appears to be confusing or misleading, you can report them to the FTC or the Better Business Bureau, so they can look into it.