If you are a new business owner, whether by simple website or something more complex, you are sure to need some kind of marketing and advertising. However, commercial lawyers will advise you to take care with the wording so that you don’t become liable to litigation.
The problem may not even be your own, but those who pass training or information of any kind on as part of their work for you. Unless there are regular updates to the material and training to keep them up to date on any changes, they may not get it right, but you’ll be the one responsible.
In addition, if you use materials – including music – in your marketing or advertising, or if you compare your product or service to others that are better known, you risk being in breach of copyright. That is why it’s a good idea to consult with lawyers before going ahead with any marketing information including brochures, website copy, YouTube clips, Facebook advertising, direct mail campaigns and even call centre scripts and product disclosure statements.
The three main things to watch out for are:
- Breach of copyright
- Misleading or deceptive conduct (advertising)
Here are some tips to help you keep tabs on your product information.
- Use templates that have the text and layout pre-approved so that it can be on every new document you need to create.
- Have a suite of disclaimers to use for various marketing material along with the instructions for when each should be used.
- Keep your marketing material up to date especially when it comes to compliance with the law, which seems to change on a regular basis.
- Know your product and nominate a product expert who can approve all marketing and training materials that mention the product.
- Make sure disclaimers are easy to find and near the promotional material
- Avoid words like ‘independent’ and ‘unbiased’ if you get any kind of remuneration from the product or service.
- Take care in using words like free, secure, safe, guaranteed, simple, stockbroker and bank that they are used in a proper way and mean what they appear to mean. For instance, ‘free’ may have some qualifying criteria that should always be disclosed.
- Don’t allow your marketing approach or the words you use to create expectation that you cannot meet.
- If you make claims about your product, make sure you can prove them, otherwise your reputation may suffer or you may be penalised by the ASIC.
- When advertising or marketing a product as something that will benefit the buyer, always make the buyer aware of any risks or loss they may incur by using it and any benefit that you will gain through their use.
- If their gain depends on factors out of your or their control, this should also be discussed.