If your dental website, blog, print, radio, or other advertising features testimonials, be aware of the FTC guidelines that went into effect late last year. Not knowing the rules won’t save you from a potential $16K daily fine that could be imposed for every infraction. That packs a punch!
For dentists, the first point of reference in advertising guidelines should always be the state board’s regulations. The Texas Dental Association, for instance, does not allow dentists to use testimonials in advertising. Other state dental boards regulate issues like statements of superiority, promising predictable results, and use of misleading statements.
Once your advertisement or website passes through the state board’s filter of regulations, consult the FTC guidelines. New policies prohibit promises of atypical results in testimonials, even with a disclaimer; revealing material connections with endorsers; and even on talk shows and in social media, celebrities have to tell people if they’re being paid for the endorsements they discuss.
These days, with online communities like Facebook and Yelp!, dentists who want to boost their advertising often look for testimonials from their patients. Demandforce and other marketing companies for dentists provide a service to acquire and post testimonials from current patients. Not a bad idea if you don’t know the rules and don’t have the time.
For video testimonials, the new guidelines could mean that you’ll need to script the patient testimonials prior to shooting or edit the videos for compliance before use.
A set of guides are available online to make the “16 C.F.R. Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” a little easier for you to digest. Get the scoop here: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm.