Make Sure Your MSP Marketing Efforts are Compliant!
We have a tendency to focus most of our attention on all the things you should do as you market your MSP services, but it is also important that we acknowledge that there are a few things that you absolutely need to do as well. This is according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Let’s go over a few of the regulations that you need to be aware of, and compliant with.
Compliance is a Big Deal
The idea behind these regulations is to protect online consumers from being lied to or otherwise misled by businesses, as well as to ensure that the data companies collect from these consumers is gathered and stored appropriately.
There are a few regulations in place that an MSP (or indeed, any business) needs to abide by. These regulations include the likes of a few policies outlined by the Federal Trade Commission and CAN-SPAM.
Let’s touch on some of the broader points of these requirements.
The Federal Trade Commission Act
Naturally, we have to address the legislation that gives the Federal Trade Commission its power in the first place. The Federal Trade Commission Act gives the Commission many of the powers that give it its teeth, like the ability to “prevent unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce” and (particularly pertinent to this blog) how it is capable of “establishing requirements designed to prevent such acts or practices.”
Due to this, the FTC is able to hold businesses liable for non-compliance with their assorted standards and guides.
FTC Endorsement Guides
For example, the FTC has provided guidance on how people who endorse products online (typically in exchange for some incentive) are expected to conduct themselves… as well as how companies seeking out reviews need to go about doing so. We’ve repeatedly said that testimonials are a valuable marketing tool to have in your arsenal, so these rules are certainly applicable.
The long and the short of it is that you need to disclose any incentives you’ve given to a client or customer in exchange for their testimonial. Looking at it objectively, this makes a lot of sense. Put yourself in a client’s shoes, for instance: if a business were to offer you something in exchange for a review, you’d more than likely feel some obligation to present them in a more positive light. Even this potential for bias makes it important that, if only for transparency’s sake, the transactional nature of the endorsement is disclosed in a clear and obvious manner. This also applies to any statements shared on social media… there has to be this disclosure.
FTC Policy Statement Regarding Advertising Substantiation
You know the advertising materials that make generalized claims that say that a given product or service is recommended by doctors or has been proven superior by studies? This policy requires the advertiser to have substantiation for what the ad says… basically, they need to be able to back up what the ad claims, even implicitly, as well as be prepared to defend the ad against all reasonable interpretations of it.
So, unless you miraculously have evidence of a study that says managed services quadruple a business’ productivity, you simply can’t say as much in your marketing materials.
CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) is a piece of legislation that, among other things, seeks to regulate the marketing activities that can be conducted over email. We’ve spoken about it at length before, but the gist of it is that your marketing needs to be transparent and truthful. It also needs to provide the recipient with an easy out if they don’t wish to receive these messages any longer.
Subject lines need to be straightforward about the contents of the email. Otherwise, you could be hit with a substantial fine per email sent, costing thousands of dollars each.
The Consumer Review Fairness Act
Let’s talk about the idea of online reviews for a moment. As much as you’d like to simply have any negative commentary wiped from the Internet, the Consumer Review Fairness Act prevents you from doing so.
This law protects the opinions and assessments of consumers, whether it be in regard to a product, service offering, or even quality of customer service. Assume that someone leaves a scathing—but honest—review of your business online. This act prevents the company from adding a clause into its terms and conditions that levies penalties for negative reviews or prevents people from leaving reviews at all.
That being said, the law doesn’t prevent you from removing reviews that expose private or sensitive information, have nothing to do with the company’s services, are deliberately misleading, or are libelous or obscene in any way.
Your marketing efforts are too important to put them at risk, so make sure you aren’t violating any of these regulations. Want help with marketing in an effective way that doesn’t potentially defy any of these regulations? Give us a call at 888-546-4384 to find out more about our services.