What Small Business Owners Need To Know About Marketing Compliance

Entrepreneurs often overlook marketing regulations and associated penalties. Here's a look at key marketing compliance tips to keep in mind.

When you’re running a small business, you know how important it is to develop strategic marketing plans designed to attract ideal customers. By doing this, you can grow your brand awareness and increase sales.

However, many entrepreneurs often overlook the variety of marketing rules and regulations, and the penalties facing them if they do the wrong thing. To help you cover yourself and your business, you need to know the basics of marketing compliance. Read on for some key marketing compliance tips all small business owners need to wrap their heads around.


Comparison Marketing

Comparison marketing, where a business compares their offerings in some way to that of another company’s, is a common strategy used in all industries. However, if you plan on trying out this tactic, there are some things you need to know when it comes to laws and guidelines.

For example, be very careful about the language you use in your comparison marketing campaigns. Whether you compare your products or services to another organization directly by name, through an illustration or graphic of some kind or by showcasing another type of information, the comparison must be fair and objective. Always use proven facts that you can back up your claims.


Contest Marketing

Many businesses use competitions as a way of generating interest and awareness for their products and services. However, if you’re going to follow suit, adhere to relevant rules and regulations. Research details about local and state agencies which monitor contests, as well as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Plus, these days most social media platforms where contests are promoted, like Facebook, have their own contest standards and guidelines.

Before you post any sort of contest, research the guidelines that apply to your business Some simple violations, which are pretty much always a no-no, include:

  • Asking people to pay to enter a sweepstakes
  • Not accurately or completely disclosing all the rules of the contest and its eligibility factors
  • Not determining winners fairly


Email Marketing and eNewsletters

Since e-newsletters are such a popular form of content marketing, some businesses may think there aren’t many rules to follow. This is far from the truth, though. In fact, when it comes to the email marketing lists you use in your business, know that you need to treat people’s contact details carefully.

Never obtain email addresses in a dodgy way, and always ensure the owner of the address has given their consent (i.e., opted-in) to be on your list. Don’t spam people by sending irrelevant emails, and ensure subject lines accurately reflect the email content. Include an unsubscribe link in each newsletter, which is easy for people to find and use if they want to, and honor all unsubscribe requests within 10 days at a maximum.


Special Offers

You’ve no doubt created special offers to generate interest and encourage people to make purchases. However, be aware that just because you create special offers for your business, this doesn’t mean there aren’t also regulations to be considered. For example, cover yourself by making the terms and conditions of free giveaways or discounted offerings clear and easy to find in your advertisements. Those taking advantage of special offers must be able to properly understand what you’re promising them.

Furthermore, it’s also necessary for you to supply what you promise and in a good time frame. You cannot be deceptive and try to add on extra costs in any way to make more money (e.g., charging a handling fee after you’ve promised free shipping).


Copyrighted Material

Most companies use work created by a third party (e.g., photographs, videos, infographics, etc.). While this may be fine in many cases, you must cover yourself by never misusing any copyrighted content in your marketing.

Remember that anything you didn’t create in-house doesn’t belong to you or your business. You need permission from the creator to use their work. This permission varies, according to conditions the creator has put in place and how you plan to use the content. Always read the fine print, so you know your rights and responsibilities.

To make things simpler, consider selecting works for your marketing that are in a public domain repository. These items are all now available for anyone to use, even if they once had copyright on them. Alternatively, get what you need off one of the many websites that provide images and other graphics for a small cost or for free (just make sure you adhere to the restrictions on the use of the material).


© YFS Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Copying prohibited. All material is protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this material is prohibited. Sharing of this material under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International terms, listed here, is permitted.


In this article