Federal Regulations and Full Disclosure about Advertising

PerryMarketing Blog

Share This Post

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is introducing new rules about the use of testimonials.

The gist is: From now on you can’t just quote the happiest and most successful testimonials, you have to disclose how “everybody” does and what “average” is.

Some people are very, very concerned about this.

I happily confess that when I get emails with glowing success stories I ask for permission to use them and post them on the website.

When we get bitter complaints and gripes I do not ask for permission to use those complaints and we do not post them on our website.

In some of our coaching programs we hold contests for students who achieved the greatest results. They compete by submitting reports of their progress. We award prizes for the very best success stories. We find that sometimes people will work harder to win a Macintosh computer than they will to increase their income by $10,000 per month. Kind of an interesting way to trick people into succeeding.

I have never taken a survey to find out what my customers’ average increase in Click Thru Rate is; I do not know what the “average result” is. But I can give you a pretty darn reasonable estimate, based on some 80/20 math.

In the interest of full disclosure, here is the entire spectrum of my own customers’ success and failure – from bottom to top:

-The bottom 20% do NOTHING. Like, they buy the ebook or the mp3 or the bookstore book and it goes on the shelf or in a folder on their hard drive. They do not read it, they do not listen to it, they do not benefit from it. Some of them may put it under their pillow in hopes that some of its contents will leak into their brains as they sleep. The number of people who do NOTHING may be more than 20%. It may be 50%.

-60% do little. Maybe listen to a little bit, maybe skim through, maybe pick up some pointers. I do believe that these people get some benefit from that. For example they may buy one of my courses on Autoresponders, not read the course, but because they spent the money, write 2-3 AR messages anyway, and get some benefit from it.

That, I believe, is what the TYPICAL customer gets.

-Which brings us to the top 20%. This is the group of people who really takes the education process seriously. 20% of my customers read, learn, and apply. They learn about “peel and stick” or negative keywords or split testing their ads and they open their Google Adwords account and go to work. They read at least a few chapters of the book and I would estimate that this group of people increases their CTR by 50% which is equivalent to saving 33% on their clicks. Their investment of $16.47 or $49 or $97 or $197 easily pays for itself.

-10% make it a habit. They don’t just do this once, they do it every few days or every few weeks and over a period of months begin to see very significant improvements. They divide their keywords into narrow ad groups; they separate search from content; they peel and stick; they adjust their landing pages. They’re almost always on the first page of Google results, they pay half or a third of what their competitors pay for the same click, and their online business WORKS.

-5% are truly students of the process. They do all of the above but in addition they truly attempt to get “inside the mind of their customer.” They develop different landing pages for different product offerings; they split test items on their website; they build lead generation and nurturing systems for people who aren’t ready to buy yet. They track conversions. Their Value Per Visitor is 2-3X what everybody else’s is. I get LOTS of testimonials from these guys and gals.

-2% Do all of the above but do it obsessively, and if they don’t know how to do something they find out how. They figure out how to write great copy and autoresponders. They figure out how to do testing and tracking and they do it regularly. They do market research (it’s not terribly difficult but most people just never get around to it) and they dominate their markets. They avail themselves of every educational opportunity and they have the attitude that they only need to learn and implement ONE solid idea from a seminar or coaching program and it will pay for itself several times over. I get LOTS of testimonials from these guys.

What is "80" and what is "20" for your business right now? Take my 2-minute quiz and I'll show you where you'll get the highest compound interest on your time and money!

(More disclosure: just because you’re a top 10% or top 5% or top 2% or 1% implementor does NOT guarantee success. Even the best students of marketing fail from time to time. Some may fail as much as TWO THIRDS of the time. Wrong market, wrong timing, wrong USP, takes too much money to penetrate the market, the reasons are endless. BUT: They look at unsuccessful projects as TESTING and not FAILURE. We learn to not take it personally.)

-1% Embrace total mastery. It is not enough for to just have a great business, they want to BE THE BEST. They are not just respected in their markets, they are revered. They don’t just understand their customers; they KNOW their customers in some ways better than the customers know themselves. The fanatical, raving testimonials with 300% and 500% and 1000% growth stories come from these people.

This top 1% is committed to mastery – day in and day out – during plateaus and during times of great prosperity. Either way, they put themselves under the mentoring of the best people they can find and they learn with diligence.

This STILL does not guarantee success. I know really turbo-sharp marketers in some industries (like real estate) who have taken a beating during the last year or two. Some of them have gone bankrupt. Buying stuff from me or anybody else does not save you from life on planet earth. But their chops are good, they’re resilient, and they’ll be back and when they return they’ll be tougher, savvier, and better able to weather storms.

(There are some people – a lot of corporate muckety-mucks who just happened to be at the right place at the right time during the boom – who will not “be back.” They never had good chops in the first place, they were just lucky.)

I do not guarantee success. I just promise that I’ll deliver the best know-how I can, that it is actionable and shows immediate results (negative or positive) because it is testable and measurable and accountable.

The premise I live by is that you can fail your way to success as long as your failures are calculated and measurable and that you learn from them.

NOT everyone who buys from me is successful. NOT everything I tell you to do will work. And when you succeed, you don’t have to send me a check. The money is yours to keep.

Perry Marshall

P.S.: Regarding affiliate promotions – It is entirely possible that I am being compensated in some way, shape or form for recommending any particular product or service that I endorse here on my website. If in you’re doubt, and if this sort of thing concerns you, just go ahead and assume I’m getting paid and that I’m giving you biased information.

That said, I’d also like to tell you that we get INUNDATED – I mean, DELUGED – with all manner of requests to promote peoples’ products. On a daily basis. They wave money in our faces, they promise us the moon, they offer prizes, trips, and merchandise. They give us statistics and reports of their conversion rates. They send boxes and packages and brownies and dollar bill letters and $20 bills and occasionally $100 bills. And gift cards and everything else you can imagine, along with their affiliate recruiting letters.

We ignore somewhere between 90% and 99% of all these requests. The only offers I endorse are products we LIKE created by people I TRUST.

On rare occasions a problem arises and we get egg on our face. If that happens, we go to bat for the customer. But in general I won’t endorse anything for money that I wouldn’t endorse for free. So, given that most online products have affiliate programs, I figure it’s better to put the money in my pocket than to leave the money in the advertiser’s pocket. You may wish to adopt a similar philosophy.

If you have a problem with any of this, then feel free to shop somewhere else.

Share This Post

About the Author

Perry Marshall has launched two revolutions in sales and marketing. In Pay-Per-Click advertising, he pioneered best practices and wrote the world's best selling book on Google advertising. And he's driven the 80/20 Principle deeper than any other author, creating a new movement in business.

He is referenced across the Internet and by Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, INC and Forbes Magazine.