Testimonials are one of the best ways of sharing the benefits of your products or services with potential customers, but there are rules you must obey.
It might seem obvious to you, but your testimonials must be real. That is a real comment from a real person, freely given.
Did you know that there have been court cases against people who have posted "testimonials" about their own products on either their own, or other people's websites? It's called "misleading and deceptive conduct".
I've just been doing a little online research and came across this promise –
"New push button software creates powerful, easy, and convincing testimonials in just second!"
The advertising around that product then goes on to say that it is only for busy people who've been asked to provide testimonials for every man and his dog, and don't have the time or energy to think too hard about putting something unique together in answer to each request.
That sounds fair enough, but really, you can see the temptation for people promoting online to just generate a couple of testimonials to add in to their advertising? Be tempted, but don't do it!
In all of the major english speaking markets around the world there are laws about the way you can use testimonials.
The fundamental requirements are:
- testimonials must be real (not written by you with a made up name)
- testimonials must not edited to change the meaning of what was actually said
- testimonials must not represent that a product or service has performance characteristics, accessories, uses or benefits that it does not have
- testimonials must not suggest that you have a sponsorship, approval or affiliation that you do not have
- testimonials must not exaggerate the need for goods or services
What does this mean for you, practically speaking?
YES – You can ask people to provide you with testimonials
NO – You cannot ask/ pay/ bribe people to make up false testimonials for you
YES – You can help people to write a testimonial for you. What you need to do is get their final approval of the words used and their agreement that what you have written is what they mean.
YES – You can edit testimonials that you are given, as long as you do not change the meaning and you ask the person giving the testimonial to agree that they are happy with the editted version.
NO – You cannot publish testimonials that make out that your product or service is better/ different to what it really is.
In the United States since December 2009 there have been much more onerous rules that you have to meet, we'll talk about those in a later post.