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Testimonials and endorsements make for good marketing, there’s no doubt about it. See a glowing report or positive comment from a satisfied customer, or read an endorsement of a product or service by a celebrity or respected figure, and you’ll instantly feel reassured and confident to go ahead and make your purchase.
As a marketer, however, there are rules you must adhere to when using testimonials in your campaigns. These rules are set down by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) via The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP), an organisation that writes and maintain the UK Advertising Codes.
If you use testimonials in your marketing, or utilise case studies that include endorsements and personal approval from customers, the following information will prove useful if you wish to keep your marketing within legal guidelines.
Whilst your testimonials come directly from the customer, if they contain statements that are likely to be interpreted as factual, then they must not be misleading. If a claim of efficacy is made in a testimonial, then the testimonial alone will not be good enough to constitute sufficient substantiation of such a claim. As with all claims made, documentary evidence of tests and analysis must be readily available.
Testimonials MUST be genuine, and the rules state that you must hold the contact details of the individuals that provided them. For testimonials provided in writing, ensure the original is safely retained on file, and keep a digital copy too.
If the quote was obtained digitally, then you will have automatic evidence of its origin – just ensure you have adequate processes in place to back-up these details. If a testimonial was provided verbally then you should make a note of who in your organisation obtained it, and when. It is good practice to write to the testimonial provider with a transcript of their statement and ask them to confirm back in writing that they are happy for it to be used.
You must never publish a testimonial without the consent of the person who provided it. This consent should ideally be in writing and you should have processes in place to ensure these permissions are safely stored and backed-up, because there may come a time when you are asked to produce such evidence.
Summary & Further Reading
In summary, it is advisable to set up a procedure to deal with the publication of testimonials so that none are released without ensuring compliance with the rules. It’s also a good idea to make someone responsible for the procedure so that it’s centrally managed.
You can read more about the rules on testimonials and endorsements on the CAP website.