Don't Listen to John Reese

84 replies
I'm reading Reese's 'Internet Marketing 2010 The Road Ahead' - which in large part is an account of personal failures and lessons that may be learned.

But then he says in reference to the new FTC guidelines: "REMOVE ALL TESTIMONIALS FROM YOUR MARKETING."

That is, in all seriousness, the worst marketing advice of the year.

Testimonials should be one of the most IMPORTANT aspects of your marketing. But don't take my word for it: Kennedy, Cialdini, etc.

This is what social media is all about - getting trusted recommendations.

The FTC is NOT against testimonials. It is concerned with fraud. Just more specific guidelines for fraudulent activity the FTC always could have pursued.

As I said in a prior post on the topic, if you have 10,000 buyers of an IM product and no one makes more than $250, but 1 guy makes $500,000, using the one $500,000 testimonial as the basis for getting new buyers is clearly deceptive. But everyone already knew that.

Here's my prediction for 2010 and beyond:

Testimonials will continue to be important, will appear on more and more websites, and yes, even John Reese will be using them.

After all, that is what Reese is doing when he pimps IM product after IM product. Using himself as a testimonial, a trusted resource, so he can make some affiliate cash.
#john #listen #reese
  • Profile picture of the author DrewG
    My guess is that he meant testimonials making ridiculous claims (I lost 945 pounds in 2 days!!!)
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  • Profile picture of the author madison_avenue
    Reese is correct, overblown testimonials will have to be removed. There will always be risk of litigation if they are kept up. It will remove a lot of the competition that relies on hype, which will make it easier for those using a more more factual approach.
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  • Profile picture of the author cgallagher93
    Hi Brian,

    In part I have to say I agree with you.

    Reese's advice is quite clearly to "remove all testimonials from your marketing" which in my opinion is complete balls.

    What the FTC propose is that anyone who includes outrageous or inflated results within testimonials can be prosecuted for misleading advice. Ok, fair enough. What they now say you have to do is include some form of notice which states results that typical users will achieve. This is where the FTC become absolute assholes by making it hard for honest marketers! I mean dude, what the heck?

    This is insane and quite frankly well over the top. They're asking people to literally guess what the average user will achieve which based upon the fact that everyone's circumstances differ, could end up even more misleading than the previous testimonial!

    I understand they're trying to prevent fraud, but it seems to me like someone had a bad day at the office and decided to come up with a quick master-plan to counter fraud and p*ss off all marketers in the process "because they can".

    Jackasses.

    With my rant over, here's my simple plan for avoiding prosecution by the FTC. Remove ALL testimonials that incorporate figures our indefinite claims such as...

    "I made $5783079 ZILLION DOLLARS in 7 days!"

    Instead, ask your customers to submit a testimonial that talks about the benefits of your product, how it's features helped them and how your way of teaching is brilliant etc. These are people's opinions and the FTC can't argue!

    The whole point of testimonials is to include a form of social proof. To me, this approach is just as good as claims of making X in X amount of time as not only do they come across as more honest and natural, but claims involving sums of money are often debatable anyway.

    Either way, don't do NOTHING!

    Connor :-)
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    • Profile picture of the author Steven Carl Kelly
      Originally Posted by cgallagher93 View Post

      What the FTC propose is that anyone who includes outrageous or inflated results within testimonials can be prosecuted for misleading advice. Ok, fair enough. What they now say you have to do is include some form of notice which states results that typical users will achieve. This is where the FTC become absolute assholes by making it hard for honest marketers! I mean dude, what the heck?
      If you read the FTC guides thoroughly, I think you'll find that it isn't nearly as difficult as you think at first. The answers are in there.
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  • Profile picture of the author davebo
    Banned
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    • Profile picture of the author Kevin Riley
      Originally Posted by davebo View Post

      I think his advice was right on. What value to testimonials actually have? I've never bought because of them or even read them.
      Please, be my guest. Remove all your testimonials. Social proof is worthless. And, I love having less competition.

      Testimonials will never, ever be worthless. The social proof they decide may not have ever swayed you, but for every one of you there are hundreds who are in doubt when on a sales page. They don't know who you are. Why should they trust you? You're a marketer. But, that other person who bought your product ... and used it ... and benefited from it. That can make all the difference.
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      • Profile picture of the author Black Hat Cat
        Banned
        Originally Posted by Kevin Riley View Post

        Please, be my guest. Remove all your testimonials. Social proof is worthless. And, I love having less competition.

        Testimonials will never, ever be worthless. The social proof they decide may not have ever swayed you, but for every one of you there are hundreds who are in doubt when on a sales page. They don't know who you are. Why should they trust you? You're a marketer. But, that other person who bought your product ... and used it ... and benefited from it. That can make all the difference.
        Since they shouldn't trust us, why should they trust that we didn't just make up the testimonials?
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  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Riley
    Originally Posted by kindsvater View Post


    But then he says in reference to the new FTC guidelines: "REMOVE ALL TESTIMONIALS FROM YOUR MARKETING."
    John get a sudden attack of Chicken Little-itis? He better go smoke a few with Kern and get his mellow back. The only testimonials that should be removed are ones that make claims that cannot be substantiated, or are not average if you cannot give a disclaimer and show the true average results.
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    • Profile picture of the author seriousmny
      Originally Posted by Kevin Riley View Post

      John get a sudden attack of Chicken Little-itis? He better go smoke a few with Kern and get his mellow back. The only testimonials that should be removed are ones that make claims that cannot be substantiated, or are not average if you cannot give a disclaimer and show the true average results.
      Pass the doobie to the left hand side :-) (Not me...don't smoke). I was wondering myself how this was going to pan out with testimonials. I was going to start selling a particular skin product. Skin care products have a lot of hype and smoke and mirrors. How do you suggest you promote a product that is based on vanity now using testimonials? Do you think Avon and wrinkle creams are going to change the way they promote? Maybe I should wait and borrow from them.
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  • Profile picture of the author madison_avenue
    The climate has changed following the fiasco of "sub-prime" mortgages which almost crashed the world economy. Regulators are now going to be far tougher on overblown promises.

    Remember in the sub-prime disaster everyone and his brother could get a mortgage at 50 times earnings and their property would be "guaranteed" to go up 20% a year?
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  • Profile picture of the author cgallagher93
    Razer Rage, testimonials aren't a sole way of selling products. They should be used in relation to a quality sales letter, screenshots and other forms of proof and persuasion. I agree that if you purely use testimonials, you're not going to make much money.

    But they ARE valuable in terms of adding a social proof element to your marketing. In the IM world, people are sceptical so all testimonials are going to be up for debate. But I have to agree with Kevin, removing ALL testimonials is CRAZAYYYY!!

    I have a friend who used to sell cars. If someone came in wanting a white version of the Toyota Camry, he'd lie and tell them that they "don't stock white because no-one likes it" thus making them believe they should buy the red one for example.

    Again, social proof. A big, big seller because people want popularity and status without being seen to be "different".
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    • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
      Brian, is this on a blog somewhere? I find it very hard to believe that John
      would categorically state to remove all testimonials without some kind of
      qualification. I'd like to read what he says so I can try to make sense out of
      it because if that's what he flat out says...end of story...then I am totally
      baffled.

      Doesn't make any sense at all.
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      • Profile picture of the author Scott Ames
        Originally Posted by Steven Wagenheim View Post

        Brian, is this on a blog somewhere? I find it very hard to believe that John
        would categorically state to remove all testimonials without some kind of
        qualification. I'd like to read what he says so I can try to make sense out of
        it because if that's what he flat out says...end of story...then I am totally
        baffled.

        Doesn't make any sense at all.
        Found it Steven

        This one is going to completely alter marketing as we know it.
        No longer can testimonials be used along with the old "results not
        typical" disclaimer. Marketers must now state the results of what the
        average buyer will achieve! In many markets this is going to be nearly
        impossible. It will be really interesting to see how companies try and
        ʻcreativelyʼ get around this new guideline.
        My advice to you (take it or leave it) is to REMOVE ALL
        TESTIMONIALS FROM YOUR MARKETING.
        If youʼre selling infoproducts, you can still be very successful without
        testimonials
        Source:

        PDF Download:


        http://www.box.net/shared/static/y576k2d1q7.pdf

        As posted on:


        Income.com Blog
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      • Profile picture of the author kindsvater
        Originally Posted by Steven Wagenheim View Post

        Brian, is this on a blog somewhere? I find it very hard to believe that John
        would categorically state to remove all testimonials without some kind of
        qualification. I'd like to read what he says so I can try to make sense out of
        it because if that's what he flat out says...end of story...then I am totally
        baffled.

        Doesn't make any sense at all.
        Steve:

        The PDF download is on a blog: Internet Marketing 2010: The Road Ahead

        and yes, it is very hard to believe because it doesn't make any sense. Reese goes further and states "you can still be very successful without testimonials."

        He is conclusively saying remove ALL testimonials.

        Not just false testimonials. Not just overhyped testimonials. Not just unproven testimonials.

        As I said: worst marketing advice of the year. I'm guessing Reese will rethink this and come back with something more rational.

        As an attorney, let me say there are are infinite number of ways to handle the issue depending on the situation. It can be as easy as: "While we don't know what results all of our customers have achieved, here are some comments, feedback, and reviews we have received ... A complete list can be found here ..."

        One thing is for certain: not only will testimonials not be removed from my websites, but more are in the process of being added.
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        • Profile picture of the author LB
          Originally Posted by kindsvater View Post

          Steve:

          The PDF download is on a blog: Internet Marketing 2010: The Road Ahead

          and yes, it is very hard to believe because it doesn't make any sense. Reese goes further and states "you can still be very successful without testimonials."

          He is conclusively saying remove ALL testimonials.

          Not just false testimonials. Not just overhyped testimonials. Not just unproven testimonials.

          As I said: worst marketing advice of the year. I'm guessing Reese will rethink this and come back with something more rational.

          As an attorney, let me say there are are infinite number of ways to handle the issue depending on the situation. It can be as easy as: "While we don't know what results all of our customers have achieved, here are some comments, feedback, and reviews we have received ... A complete list can be found here ..."

          One thing is for certain: not only will testimonials not be removed from my websites, but more are in the process of being added.
          Could you clarify this point? Is this not the same as the old "results not typical"?

          My reading of the FTC guidelines seem to indicate that if you use any results in your testimonials then you have to also provide generally expected results, not just a disclaimer or even a disclosure of bad comments, etc. but an actual generally expected outcome for the typical consumer.

          Perhaps you could give us an example of how you recommend using testimonials from this point on?
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  • Profile picture of the author Desmond Ong
    You don't need testimonial to sell. There's always something called social proof.

    A few months back, I did a soft-launch for my dating product and we raked in 5-figure without even a single piece of testimonial on our sales letter.

    I think what John meant is that if you used testimonial the wrong way (the against FTC way) -- you're gonna screwed up your entire marketing career -- which is WAY more riskier than anything.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rezbi
    There is the obvious solution on whether or not to use testimonials in YOUR copy -- test.
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  • Profile picture of the author phil.wheatley
    Talking from personal experience, there have been many times when buying IM products, it's been the testimonials that have often tipped the balance for me, I shall be keeping as many of mine as possible, as mentioned before, as long as they are genuine and don't claim specific results.

    Phil
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    • Profile picture of the author Kevin Riley
      Originally Posted by phil.wheatley View Post

      Talking from personal experience, there have been many times when buying IM products, it's been the testimonials that have often tipped the balance for me, I shall be keeping as many of mine as possible, as mentioned before, as long as they are genuine and don't claim specific results.

      Phil
      "After drinking Phil Wheatley's tea, I immediately gained 58 points on my IQ, made $45,965 at the track on a horse called Teaboy, and went on to become a big star in Bollywood."

      Kevin Riley
      Tetley Close
      Osaka, Japan
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  • Profile picture of the author cgallagher93
    I agree that testimonials aren't necessary. But if you think that credible testimonials (i.e. ones that sing your praises as opposed to making income promises) don't increase conversions, then I urge you to do a split-test!

    One with testimonials, one with none. I can absolutely guarantee you that from personal experience the one with testimonials will convert better! Ask any copywriter that knows what he's talking about...

    Oh and Steven, it was in his free report about IM in 2010 - get a copy here:

    Income.com Blog
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    • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
      Originally Posted by cgallagher93 View Post

      I agree that testimonials aren't necessary. But if you think that credible testimonials (i.e. ones that sing your praises as opposed to making income promises) don't increase conversions, then I urge you to do a split-test!

      One with testimonials, one with none. I can absolutely guarantee you that from personal experience the one with testimonials will convert better! Ask any copywriter that knows what he's talking about...

      Oh and Steven, it was in his free report about IM in 2010 - get a copy here:

      Income.com Blog
      Okay, I read it...that's what he says...remove all testimonials.

      :confused::confused::confused::confused::confused: :confused::confused::confused::confused::confused:
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  • Profile picture of the author Rezbi
    There is a simpler wqay of finding out whether or not testimonials work on your site - test.

    Just keep it real.
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  • Profile picture of the author DrewG
    Funny he says that, because I just found a bunch of testimonials on his Internet Auction Secrets product -

    Internet Auction Secrets

    He wants to keep all the testimonials to himself :-P
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  • Profile picture of the author Steven Carl Kelly
    Originally Posted by kindsvater View Post

    But then he says in reference to the new FTC guidelines: "REMOVE ALL TESTIMONIALS FROM YOUR MARKETING."
    I respect Reese, but if he said EXACTLY that -- to remove ALL testimonials from your marketing -- then he's giving very, very bad advice that is based on a broad knee-jerk reaction.

    Examine the FTC guides yourself and you will quickly see that testimonials are perfectly acceptable and there are even examples of how to properly use them.

    No, I'm sorry, but if the statement is worded exactly as quoted, then this advice is really off the mark.

    Originally Posted by kindsvater View Post

    The FTC is NOT against testimonials. It is concerned with fraud. Just more specific guidelines for fraudulent activity the FTC always could have pursued.
    Legitimate, honest marketers should embrace the new guides, not be put off by them. They should, if they work as intended, weed out a bunch of fraudsters who are competing for the same dollars we are.
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  • Profile picture of the author Steven Carl Kelly
    Scott:

    Thanks for digging that up. And Reese is wrong on multiple counts, including the statement "Marketers must now state the results of what the average buyer will achieve!".

    A guess from me is that he really just had a knee-jerk reaction without fully analyzing what the guides say.
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  • Profile picture of the author JonathanBoettcher
    I think its nuts how the FTC wants to require showing what "typical results" might be from your product. Let's take IM, just for kicks. 100 people buy, 70% don't even read the material, thus achieve nothing, 25% read it and use it half-heartedly, thus earning $250 dollars. 5% (I'm being generous here) read it, run with it, and make $1000.

    So we've generated $11,250 across 100 customers - does that mean the "typical" result is earnings of $112.50 per person? But not one single person made that amount! Plus, that was far above the median earnings of the group ($0) and far less than the average earnings of anyone who took action.

    By its very nature, any product that has a learning component (ie, as long as you're selling information, and not toasters or baseballs, you're in this boat) will produce atypical results.

    So in my opinion, having a good range of testimonials on a sales page, all showing positive but varying results helps the purchaser make a more informed decision.

    No sales page should ever have falsified testimonials - ever - but I don't think that's really what's at stake here either.

    While we're on the disclosure topic though - what about applying similar standards to big corporations? Ever seen a "doctor" on TV promoting the latest drug? Ever see a disclaimer at the bottom saying "this person is not a doctor, they are a paid actor, and they have never used the product being promoted or received any sort of results from it, in fact they are merely reading a script that the marketing department created for them." Now THAT is a disclaimer I'd be tickled to see the FTC enforcing.
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    • Profile picture of the author Steven Carl Kelly
      Originally Posted by JonathanBoettcher View Post

      I think its nuts how the FTC wants to require showing what "typical results" might be from your product. Let's take IM, just for kicks. 100 people buy, 70% don't even read the material, thus achieve nothing, 25% read it and use it half-heartedly, thus earning $250 dollars. 5% (I'm being generous here) read it, run with it, and make $1000.

      So we've generated $11,250 across 100 customers - does that mean the "typical" result is earnings of $112.50 per person? But not one single person made that amount! Plus, that was far above the median earnings of the group ($0) and far less than the average earnings of anyone who took action.
      The FTC states that marketers are not required to do a mathematical calculation of the "average" results, and that's exactly why the guide doesn't say "average results". You can limit the "generally expected results" by limiting the scope of the circumstances. The FTC says it is perfectly acceptable to list the generally expected results under a certain set of circumstances.
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      • Profile picture of the author JonathanBoettcher
        Originally Posted by Steven Carl Kelly View Post

        The FTC states that marketers are not required to do a mathematical calculation of the "average" results, and that's exactly why the guide doesn't say "average results". You can limit the "generally expected results" by limiting the scope of the circumstances. The FTC says it is perfectly acceptable to list the generally expected results under a certain set of circumstances.
        Thanks Steven - it appears I was misinformed. Probably by a testimonial .

        I think limiting the scope of the circumstances is a good point - you could say for instance, anyone who reads the material and takes action on it for a certain amount of time... as a way of qualifying any claims.
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        • Profile picture of the author Steven Carl Kelly
          Originally Posted by JonathanBoettcher View Post

          I think limiting the scope of the circumstances is a good point - you could say for instance, anyone who reads the material and takes action on it for a certain amount of time... as a way of qualifying any claims.
          I would limit the scope of circumstances on each and every testimonial that includes a performance claim. Include a link to a disclaimer page at the bottom of the testimonial. For example:

          "My name is Fred Flake and I tried Jonathan's new Money Suction Valve System Part Deux and I took in $1.2 million dollars in just eleventy minutes!"

          DISCLAIMER

          and then it links to:

          "Fred Flake has been involved in internet marketing for 14 years. During those years Fred has learned many, many things about internet marketing and has experienced tremendous success and several setbacks, even before he tried the Money Suction Valve System Part Deux. Mr. Flake was provided a copy of the system free of charge. After he received it, he studied the material for approximately 12 hours. He then developed an implementation plan. He spent the next six weeks, working approximately 5 hours per day, implementing the plan based on the Money Suction Valve System Part Deux. Upon the launch of his new web-base enterprise founded on the system, within eleventy minutes Fred Flake had received $1.2 million in orders. These are the generally expected results based on Mr. Flake's circumstances."

          I'm no lawyer, but I think that meets the requirements.
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          • Profile picture of the author JonathanBoettcher
            Originally Posted by Steven Carl Kelly View Post

            I would limit the scope of circumstances on each and every testimonial that includes a performance claim. Include a link to a disclaimer page at the bottom of the testimonial. For example:

            "My name is Fred Flake and I tried Jonathan's new Money Suction Valve System Part Deux and I took in $1.2 million dollars in just eleventy minutes!"

            DISCLAIMER

            and then it links to:

            "Fred Flake has been involved in internet marketing for 14 years. During those years Fred has learned many, many things about internet marketing and has experienced tremendous success and several setbacks, even before he tried the Money Suction Valve System Part Deux. Mr. Flake was provided a copy of the system free of charge. After he received it, he studied the material for approximately 12 hours. He then developed an implementation plan. He spent the next six weeks, working approximately 5 hours per day, implementing the plan based on the Money Suction Valve System Part Deux. Upon the launch of his new web-base enterprise founded on the system, within eleventy minutes Fred Flake had received $1.2 million in orders. These are the generally expected results based on Mr. Flake's circumstances."

            I'm no lawyer, but I think that meets the requirements.
            LOL - yeah I should think that would meet the requirements.
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        • Profile picture of the author Vaan
          It is probably reese make some contraversy??

          I just do't get it, maybe remove a few testimonial is okay, but if all testimonial?? :confused:

          This business is ruined completely, the conversion will drop 200%

          Yes indded if we have a lot of good testimonial, the prospect who see it probably will be suspicious, so a few testimonial with a strong feedback is much better I think..

          So any others oppinion?anyones?


          Vaan
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          • Profile picture of the author Collette
            Man, the FTC has people in a lather over nothing!

            Why, oh why, do so many people have their knickers in a twist over this??

            It's not rocket science, folks. If you can't substantiate your testimonial claims, you can't use the testimonial. If there are circumstances that impacted the results claimed in your testimonals, you have to reveal them.

            You do NOT have to do any complicated forecast math for "average results". Nor do you have to keep the Psychic Hotline on retainer.

            Sure, claims of "I lost 947 pounds and made $895,000,000 in 2.5 hours in my sleep, all while eating 5 Big Macs a day and golfing in my footie pajamas." are also going to have to say, "Joe's results are extraordinary. But if you follow my system, you might have extraordinary results, too."

            Assuming, of course that you have verifiable PROOF of Joe's results.

            And there, apparently, lies the rub.

            Or the twisted knickers. Take your pick.

            All this ruling (which isn't even in effect yet) does is to require that marketers make *gasp!* honest claims about their products' efficacy.

            The ONLY people who should be freaking out about this are people who know they've been making bull**** claims about their product. People who know they're ripping buyers off.

            If you're already marketing ethically, the FTC ruling doesn't affect you at all.

            If you're not marketing ethically... well... sucks to be you. :p
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            • Profile picture of the author MikeRogers
              Originally Posted by Collette View Post

              Man, the FTC has people in a lather over nothing!

              Why, oh why, do so many people have their knickers in a twist over this??
              Because that's what the FTC and all of the other "Watchdog" agencies in the government do. They see messing with people as their job - Without people to mess with, they got no job.

              Now, I don't pretend to agree 110% with what Reese is putting out about removing all testimonials from your salespages. That seems a bit extreme and I don't think the FTC is going to come down on you for having just a few. But, we have all seen sales pages with HUNDREDS of testimonials that seem to go on forever and a link to read about a thousand more if you have nothing better to do with your time.

              If you have four testimonials, no big deal. They are easy to verify. But try defending hundreds of testimonials against a fired up government prosecutor who sees messing with people as his top priority. He's going to want a sworn affidavit from every person you list or, better still, a deposition. Miss just one and your butt is in a sling. That's how they roll.

              Hope for the best but prepare for the worst -

              MikeRogers
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              • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
                Originally Posted by seriousmny View Post

                Pass the doobie to the left hand side :-) (Not me...don't smoke). I was wondering myself how this was going to pan out with testimonials. I was going to start selling a particular skin product. Skin care products have a lot of hype and smoke and mirrors. How do you suggest you promote a product that is based on vanity now using testimonials? Do you think Avon and wrinkle creams are going to change the way they promote? Maybe I should wait and borrow from them.
                I read the FTC guidelines, and I think 'vanity' products might have it easier than many others. In one of the examples, they made the distinction between statements of fact and statements of opinion. They also addressed what might constitute and expert endorsement vs. a simple statement of opinion.

                If you have Joan Soccermom saying "I used Miracle Goop and I could see a difference in my skin," that's an opinion, with no need for documentation.

                If you have Dr. Joan Soccermom, dermatologist, make the same statement you will need to back it up - what was the difference, how was it measured, etc. The "average user" would ascribe more weight to an endorsement from a dermatologist's opinion than that of a more general buyer.

                Similarly, if you give Mrs. Soccermom a sample of your Miracle Goop for the purpose of getting her opinion, all you have to do is say so - "We stopped Joan Soccermom in the store today, and asked her to try new Miracle Goop. Here's what she had to say..."
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                • Profile picture of the author Collette
                  Originally Posted by JohnMcCabe View Post

                  ...
                  If you have Joan Soccermom saying "I used Miracle Goop and I could see a difference in my skin," that's an opinion, with no need for documentation.
                  ...
                  Personally, to cover your butt, I'd recommend you have verifying information on ALL the testimonials you use. All you need is proof (eg. contact information) that Joan Soccermom is a real person, and not just someone you made up.

                  You don't necessarily have to show the contact information in your advertising. But I'd recommend having it in your files, just in case...
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                • Profile picture of the author Mike Hersh
                  Originally Posted by JohnMcCabe View Post

                  I read the FTC guidelines, and I think 'vanity' products might have it easier than many others. In one of the examples, they made the distinction between statements of fact and statements of opinion. They also addressed what might constitute and expert endorsement vs. a simple statement of opinion.

                  If you have Joan Soccermom saying "I used Miracle Goop and I could see a difference in my skin," that's an opinion, with no need for documentation.

                  If you have Dr. Joan Soccermom, dermatologist, make the same statement you will need to back it up - what was the difference, how was it measured, etc. The "average user" would ascribe more weight to an endorsement from a dermatologist's opinion than that of a more general buyer.

                  Similarly, if you give Mrs. Soccermom a sample of your Miracle Goop for the purpose of getting her opinion, all you have to do is say so - "We stopped Joan Soccermom in the store today, and asked her to try new Miracle Goop. Here's what she had to say..."
                  The best explanation I got for the FTC until now.

                  I totally agree with you, all you have to do is be legit, and I believe that most of us already are.

                  We don't need to get scared from such a thing... If you're legit than you're safe.

                  Mike G
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                  • Profile picture of the author Lance K
                    Jonh Reese has a lot of business expertise to draw from. So I mean no disrespect to John, but...

                    Unless John Reese is your attorney, business partner, or paid consultant, who gives a damn what he thinks about how/if you should use testimonials?
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                    • Profile picture of the author Peter Bestel
                      Originally Posted by Lance K View Post

                      Jonh Reese has a lot of business expertise to draw from. So I mean no disrespect to John, but...

                      Unless John Reese is your attorney, business partner, or paid consultant, who gives a damn what he thinks about how/if you should use testimonials?
                      That's an excellent point and one that 'should' be listened to - it's just a shame you and I don't have the influence that John does.

                      Go look at the responses on his blog. Even before he clarified his statement, people were falling over themselves to agree.

                      On a public forum like this, on a public forum like his blog, there's a responsibility of those who are listened to to not give duff advice, don't you think?

                      Peter
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                • Profile picture of the author KevinDasilva
                  Hey Guys,

                  Awesome post.

                  I think that the problem here is NOT what they "average" user will get for results... Is that the "average" user is going to buy it and stick it on a shelf somewhere.

                  So if your going to be honest you would have to say that the average user will get NO RESULTS because they never even tried it. Even though it might work but you would have to find somoene who does apply what they learn, and thats the person with the so called "inflated results"...

                  The results are not "inflated" that person just actually did what they were told to do.

                  This sucks and I don't think this ANYTHING AT ALL to do with "protecting the consumer". I think the boys in the Washignton decided they needed a way to "take their piece" from the only place money is being made which is the internet.

                  C'mon if you see a product where someone lost 950 pounds do you really need a * saying that these results are not typical? This is ridiclous. And like I said I think its their way of taking from us to use on thir crazy spending!

                  But hey what do I know...

                  For me I will stick with providing massive value BEFORE the sale so that testimonials will not have such an effect.

                  ~Kevin
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              • Profile picture of the author Collette
                Originally Posted by MikeRogers View Post

                Because that's what the FTC and all of the other "Watchdog" agencies in the government do. They see messing with people as their job - Without people to mess with, they got no job.

                ...
                MikeRogers
                Why would the FTC mess with you unless your claims are outlandish, misleading, exaggerated, or plain unbelievable? Why would you even come under their radar?

                As long as you do not claim that the buyer of your product WILL achieve a specific result, ya got no problem.

                If you make a claim or use a testimonial, no matter how outlandish, AND you have the proof to back it up, ya got no problem.

                Marketers who make or imply specific claims of specific results without proof are the ones who have to worry.

                It is perfectly possible (and within the guidelines) to use a testimonial that says that X achieved a certain amazing and extraordinary result. You need to verify X's claim, sure, but why should that be a problem if the testimonial is true?

                And even if X's result is extraordinary, all you have to do is reveal that X's results are extraordinary.

                Any competent copywriter can word advertising copy so that it isn't misleading or an outright lie, while remaining persuasive.

                I really fail to see the problem here.
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                • Profile picture of the author MikeRogers
                  Originally Posted by Collette View Post

                  Why would the FTC mess with you unless your claims are outlandish, misleading, exaggerated, or plain unbelievable? Why would you even come under their radar?
                  You probably won't unless you list hundreds of testimonials on your site.

                  My point is, you are responsible for everything you publish. The FTC has the ability (and resources) to call you on any publicly made claim; even the claims made by the people giving the testimonials.

                  If you publish it, you own it.

                  Look, all I'm saying is that you have to be very careful about what you put in writing for the consumption of the public. If you get into a "war of words" with the government, you are probably going to lose.

                  What seems reasonable and logical to us often has no voice in a court of law.
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                  • Profile picture of the author Collette
                    Originally Posted by MikeRogers View Post

                    ...My point is, you are responsible for everything you publish. The FTC has the ability (and resources) to call you on any publicly made claim; even the claims made by the people giving the testimonials.

                    If you publish it, you own it.

                    Look, all I'm saying is that you have to be very careful about what you put in writing for the consumption of the public. If you get into a "war of words" with the government, you are probably going to lose.

                    What seems reasonable and logical to us often has no voice in a court of law.
                    Totally agree with you, Mike. But this has always been the case with the FTC. If you came up on their radar, and they had reason to believe that your claims were false, they'd be on you like fleas on a Bengali street dog.

                    So what has changed? Nada, as far as I can see. This latest ruling is just a shot across the bow announcing that the FTC intends to enforce what they've been letting slip.

                    Yeah, it's meant to cause panic. But only to those who've been playing loose and fast - and unethically.
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  • Profile picture of the author SantiSantana
    How about finding a way to track if the materials have been read and understood? say you add a test at the end for people to fill in in exchange for something (you do this all the time, don't make me go into specifics here). That way you could market under XXX% of customers who successfully read and put the materials to use made on average $$$. Needless to say, the test would proaly need to be practical as well as just the theory of what's written.

    Just dropping it as an idea...
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
      I downloaded the report a moment ago, and haven't had a chance to read the actual text yet.

      With that disclaimer in place...

      I think I need a new tinfoil hat.

      First Kern stirs the pot by raising this "average results" straw man that has people in a complete lather.

      Then Reese purportedly is telling marketers to remove all testimonials from their marketing, and that they can be just as successful without them.

      Does anyone else smell a new, major product launch coming? :confused:

      Maybe "Mass Traffic Control Secrets"?

      Edit:

      After posting this, I went back and read Reese's report. That thing is pure genius. Hint at things to come, build some urgency for them, and weave in some outrageous statements sure to generate discussion (and more readers). And John did it in a conversational style that was easy to read. He even managed to put a new entry on my reading list. The pdf went right into my swipe file.

      As Steven said in the post below this one, John Reese is no idiot.
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      • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
        Originally Posted by JohnMcCabe View Post

        I downloaded the report a moment ago, and haven't had a chance to read the actual text yet.

        With that disclaimer in place...

        I think I need a new tinfoil hat.

        First Kern stirs the pot by raising this "average results" straw man that has people in a complete lather.

        Then Reese purportedly is telling marketers to remove all testimonials from their marketing, and that they can be just as successful without them.

        Does anyone else smell a new, major product launch coming? :confused:

        Maybe "Mass Traffic Control Secrets"?

        Here is my take on it for what it's worth.

        I think John made that statement knowing full well how outrageous it is
        and knew that it would get people talking about it.

        This thread is your proof.

        John Reese is no idiot.
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        • Profile picture of the author Peter Bestel
          Originally Posted by Steven Wagenheim View Post

          Here is my take on it for what it's worth.

          I think John made that statement knowing full well how outrageous it is
          and knew that it would get people talking about it.

          This thread is your proof.

          John Reese is no idiot.
          If John really has done this simply to court controversy then it's irresponsible. It's one thing to take a stand that causes lots of discussion, but this is actually giving people advice that may be unnecessarily damaging to their business.

          I'm not that cynical to believe he's said this to build profile.

          The only reason I can see for suggesting this course of action is that he was told to do so by his lawyer. As John (and Frank Kern) are high-profile teachers, it would deflect any comeback should a marketer claim they retained their testimonials on the advice of John or Frank. Better for them simply to say, 'Get rid of them all, that's my advice. And I have 100,000 witnesses to prove that that's what I said!"

          Peter
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          • Profile picture of the author Brian Cook
            Bummer for anybody about to release an automated
            "Testimonial" software product or WSO!
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          • Profile picture of the author frankm
            I fully expected this newsletter to get a mention in the report...

            John Reese (TrafficSecrets.com) - Articles - How *Crap* Can Dramatically Boost Your Profits!
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            • Profile picture of the author Scott Ames
              Originally Posted by frankm View Post

              I fully expected this newsletter to get a mention in the report...

              John Reese (TrafficSecrets.com) - Articles - How *Crap* Can Dramatically Boost Your Profits!
              This was was posted in 2003, but it made me laugh:

              1. Create and launch crap. 2. Test that crap. 3. Improve that crap. 4. Make money with crap that eventually becomes non-crap
              of course John says: Seriously. Don't laugh. This process works. Again and again. It has made me rich..

              Sorry.. I did laugh, but I see the truth in it.
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          • Profile picture of the author Kevin Riley
            Originally Posted by Peter Bestel View Post

            If John really has done this simply to court controversy then it's irresponsible. It's one thing to take a stand that causes lots of discussion, but this is actually giving people advice that may be unnecessarily damaging to their business.

            I'm not that cynical to believe he's said this to build profile.

            The only reason I can see for suggesting this course of action is that he was told to do so by his lawyer. As John (and Frank Kern) are high-profile teachers, it would deflect any comeback should a marketer claim they retained their testimonials on the advice of John or Frank. Better for them simply to say, 'Get rid of them all, that's my advice. And I have 100,000 witnesses to prove that that's what I said!"

            Peter
            Peter

            I think in either instance, it is irresponsible. It will panic newbie marketers, who will be stripping all testimonials off their sites, for no reason whatsoever and to their detriment. I'm shocked that someone of such stature would say something like that.
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            • Profile picture of the author Noah Fleming
              Originally Posted by Kevin Riley View Post

              Peter

              I think in either instance, it is irresponsible. It will panic newbie marketers, who will be stripping all testimonials off their sites, for no reason whatsoever and to their detriment. I'm shocked that someone of such stature would say something like that.
              Agreed. I haven't read this new report so don't quote me on anything. I'm only going by what I've read here.

              Much to the dismay of the thousands who follow whatever Reese says as "gospel," these guys have more to lose then most.

              Let's be realistic. There has been a LOT of back scratching within testimonials from the inner circles of IM for a long long LONG time. Are we not willing to admit this?

              I can think back to many launches and it becomes no wonder that some want those testimonials and case studies to just disappear totally from the internet. How many launches come to mind from the bigger names where the testimonials and case studies certainly weren't "typical results." Think back to the 100k a day launch. I watched nearly every Guru in this biz give this thing a live video testimonial telling me I could literally start earning thousands a day. Typical results? Maybe.

              If your testimonials are real and you're not making outrageously outlandish claims then getting rid of them would be a big mistake. Pretty poor advice as far as I'm concerned.

              If your testimonials are REAL and ones you've earned through your business and services offered, why would you remove them???

              The FTC has already said you would always be asked to comply before being outright sued by them if they had a problem with what you were saying.

              No need for everyone to panic. The FTC has made changes for the better. This will clean up IM as far as I'm concerned.
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  • Profile picture of the author Matt Bard
    Next week he will be here to discuss his tests on controversial marketing and how his readers reacted to his statements made inside of the report.

    "It's a new way of taking the social pulse". "Secret testing techniques create viral results that are much better than asking questions in traditional polls".

    Matt
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  • Profile picture of the author John Burton
    I think Reese's advice about removing all testimonials was aimed more at those who make claims of 40,000 dollars in 30 days. If you're being sensible and using HONEST and REAL testimonials - as I do, then that can only be a good thing.
    John Burton
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  • Profile picture of the author Kris Turner
    In the past week both Kern and Reese have both said to remove all testimonials from your marketing. Frank said that he made that decision after speaking to a lawyer who specialises in this stuff.

    There's a good chance John is following suit because he's so close to Frank.

    Are any other big name marketers saying this? A quick look around and I'm seeing plenty of testimonials on some high profile sites...No one seems to be taking theirs down!

    Oh, and for what it's worth, testimonials have convinced me to buy products in the past. I had no intention of getting PLF 2.0 when it launched, but the dozen or so video testimonials on the sales page pushed me over the edge.

    And I'm glad they did. The best marketing product I ever bought.
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    • Profile picture of the author Stephen Crooks
      It might be because it doesn't actually come in until December..

      Originally Posted by Alex Taylor View Post

      In the past week both Kern and Reese have both said to remove all testimonials from your marketing. Frank said that he made that decision after speaking to a lawyer who specialises in this stuff.

      There's a good chance John is following suit because he's so close to Frank.

      Are any other big name marketers saying this? A quick look around and I'm seeing plenty of testimonials on some high profile sites...No one seems to be taking theirs down!

      Oh, and for what it's worth, testimonials have convinced me to buy products in the past. I had no intention of getting PLF 2.0 when it launched, but the dozen or so video testimonials on the sales page pushed me over the edge.

      And I'm glad they did. The best marketing product I ever bought.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Hill
    I'd like to see what the FTC does with all those full page ads in mags such as Small Business Opportunities...

    Those are clearly a reflection of HYPE marketing and NOT average results... This is such a witch hunt it's not even funny...

    Mike Hill
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    • Profile picture of the author Matt Bard
      Originally Posted by Mike Hill View Post

      This is such a witch hunt it's not even funny...
      Exactly.

      After the big Dot Com failure the corporations have been watching us to see how it's done. Now that Frank and Reese have made incredible profits in such a short amount of time maybe the "Big Boys" feel that they can give it another try.

      I don't know about the rest of you, but I can't afford to roam the halls of congress and harass politicians all day long.

      That's the real problem.

      Entrepreneurs don't have a big enough checkbook to compete with full time lobbyists.

      The politicians hear complaints all day long how we "little guys" are destroying the Internet with all of our scams and Wild West ways.

      Unless a representative spends time here with us, they don't have a clue how Internet marketing works.

      They only hear what their staff people tell them and if any of them have ever been ripped off just once then it's all bad.

      Matt
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  • Profile picture of the author rcwilson4au
    Originally Posted by Razer Rage View Post

    He's talking about testimonials on your sales letter. And it's good advice, seeing as most of them are full of hype and can't be substantiated.

    Let the people on forums and facebook be your testimonials.
    I agree... the people on forums and facebook are where your testimonials really have impact.
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    • Profile picture of the author Scott Ames
      Originally Posted by actionplanbiz View Post

      so why is testimonials on a sales letter not good?
      They is good. It's just that people are afraid of the new FTC rules. (USA) They are not clear enough to avoid confusion.
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  • Profile picture of the author Black Hat Cat
    Banned
    Why would the FTC mess with you unless your claims are outlandish, misleading, exaggerated, or plain unbelievable?
    Because they can. And because the government needs the money. And because, contrary to popular belief, immoral, unethical, and downright criminal behavior isn't limited to the private sector. There are plenty of scammers working in the government too.
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  • Profile picture of the author TelegramSam
    Be careful the FTC don't grab you by the testimonials.

    Apparently the FTC are going to ban ALL unapproved testimonials from April 2011.

    What you may not realise is that a subsidiary company of the FTC, called FTC Marketing Secrets have some software in beta, which is due to be launched in April 2011.

    The beta testers consist of a couple of women's institues and knitting clubs up in Wyoming and a few old geezers down in Georgia.

    It is called "Instant Testimonials". All you do is fill in a few missing blanks and it churns out a perfectly formed testimonial as approved by the FTC.

    The software costs $1,997 and there is a forced continuity of just $97 a month and each new testimonial it produces costs $497.

    They have realised that this will generate more income than just imposing some fines.

    Apparently some guy called Reese got them on to the idea.
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    • Profile picture of the author Noah Fleming
      Originally Posted by TelegramSam View Post

      Apparently some guy called Reese got them on to the idea.
      I knew there was a catch to all of this.
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    • Profile picture of the author Gene Pimentel
      Originally Posted by TelegramSam View Post

      Be careful the FTC don't grab you by the testimonials.
      The best line in this entire thread! LOL
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  • Profile picture of the author Kenneth Fox
    I've seen some interesting points made on this thread but I
    still feel it is to premature to assume what will happen.

    Anyone giving advice (like John Reese did) should bite their
    tongue for a little while until things start to reveal themselves.

    There's no reason to start a panic. As long as you have a
    legit product or service and any testimonials are from real
    people that can be tracked, you have nothing to worry about.

    Look at how many TV commercials have these testimonials
    on them like Nutri-system and Proactive to name a few.

    Again, I think we should all sit back and wait to see the whole
    picture, not just the trailer, before we move in haste and do
    some things that we could regret later.
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  • Profile picture of the author Peter Bestel
    I notice that John has written a clarification of his message.

    Apparently when he said, remove ALL testimonials he didn't mean ALL testimonials, just "results-based testimonials".

    Income.com Blog

    Originally Posted by Kevin Riley View Post

    Peter

    I think in either instance, it is irresponsible. It will panic newbie marketers, who will be stripping all testimonials off their sites, for no reason whatsoever and to their detriment. I'm shocked that someone of such stature would say something like that.
    Yep, that was my point and I raised this on his blog too. I hope this detraction (or clarification) goes some way to addressing this problem.
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  • Profile picture of the author nicholasb
    honestly I think he created this report to scare people out of the business, it's nothing but negative stories.

    I already talked to my lawer and I know exactly how to stay in compliance with the ftc, I dont plan on looking for a loophole, I am gonna stay in compliance.

    So many people are gonna run and hide, which makes it easier for the honest ans trati forward marketers to make more money

    I was already letting people know I was an affiliate marketer way before this ftc thing and it actually works to my advantage
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  • Profile picture of the author Charann Miller
    It'll be interesting to see how this new FTC ruling will effect advertisers across the board and how they integrate and implement the necessary changes, especially in terms of the infomercial companies with their latest gadgets and how they plan to incorporate their testimonials.

    I mean it just wouldn't be the same trying to sell a weight loss product without any proof or by mentioning the typical results one might expect to get. Be very interesting to see how it's pulled off. Watch and learn.
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  • Profile picture of the author markshields
    There is a valid point in this true enough as most testimonials on the internet have no backup because they tend to be false so unless their 100 percent solid I would follow the advice and remove them
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  • Profile picture of the author cj1966
    If I was Reese ie big name in the industry, obviously had the funds to pay any fines the FTC imposed so would be more likely to come after me, had recently done videos with a someone the FTC had targated before (Kern) and also with an internationally known speaker (Tony Robbins), thought the FTC might be looking to target the industry I was in and thought that they'd brought in new guidelines about testimonials that was purposly vauge enough to trap people...

    and on top of that could still make a ton of money without testimonials (which I'm sure Reese is more than capable of)...

    yeah, I'd dump testominonals for a while until it blew over too!
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    • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
      Banned
      Originally Posted by Topher Walker View Post

      If I was Reese ie big name in the industry, obviously had the funds to pay any fines the FTC imposed so would be more likely to come after me, had recently done videos with a someone the FTC had targated before (Kern) and also with an internationally known speaker (Tony Robbins), thought the FTC might be looking to target the industry I was in and thought that they'd brought in new guidelines about testimonials that was purposly vauge enough to trap people...

      and on top of that could still make a ton of money without testimonials (which I'm sure Reese is more than capable of)...

      yeah, I'd dump testominonals for a while until it blew over too!
      Just as a BTW, Robbins has been slapped by the FTC in the past as well (1995) - Robbins Research International, Inc.

      But coming back to the subject of the thread - look...there are "testimonials" and there are "testimonials". I've always maintained that a testimonial from "Jo Blow - New Jersey" is next to useless. The testimonial needs to be real. You need to be able to at least go to a site - or better still - a testimonial post on a site to verify it. And you can avoid the outlandish claims - monetary or otherwise. All the testimonial needs to say is something like "I used this product and found it great. Contact me and I'll tell you more". It's still powerful don't you think? But the bottom line is - it has to be real. I take absolutely no notice of testimonials that aren't or can't be verified. And I'm betting you do too.

      Disclosure: talking of "needs to be real" - that mugshot of mine is 20 years old. Taken in a brand-new FM radio station after I'd written and produced twenty-three 30 second spots in one 12 hour day. I'm trying to find a recent one that doesn't frighten young children and Internet Marketers.
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  • Profile picture of the author davidmerrick
    The FTC is just against being deceptive. They always have been, it's just now it's officially being written down. It's not gonna change a whole lot, despite what people say. Besides, there's no way they could regulate every affiliate marketer on the internet.
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  • Profile picture of the author davidsoj
    Banned
    [DELETED]
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
      Originally Posted by nicholasb View Post

      I already talked to my lawer and I know exactly how to stay in compliance with the ftc, I dont plan on looking for a loophole, I am gonna stay in compliance.
      Nick, that IS the ultimate loophole...
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  • Profile picture of the author scrofford
    Originally Posted by kindsvater View Post

    I'm reading Reese's 'Internet Marketing 2010 The Road Ahead' - which in large part is an account of personal failures and lessons that may be learned.

    But then he says in reference to the new FTC guidelines: "REMOVE ALL TESTIMONIALS FROM YOUR MARKETING."

    That is, in all seriousness, the worst marketing advice of the year.

    Testimonials should be one of the most IMPORTANT aspects of your marketing. But don't take my word for it: Kennedy, Cialdini, etc.

    This is what social media is all about - getting trusted recommendations.

    The FTC is NOT against testimonials. It is concerned with fraud. Just more specific guidelines for fraudulent activity the FTC always could have pursued.

    As I said in a prior post on the topic, if you have 10,000 buyers of an IM product and no one makes more than $250, but 1 guy makes $500,000, using the one $500,000 testimonial as the basis for getting new buyers is clearly deceptive. But everyone already knew that.

    Here's my prediction for 2010 and beyond:

    Testimonials will continue to be important, will appear on more and more websites, and yes, even John Reese will be using them.

    After all, that is what Reese is doing when he pimps IM product after IM product. Using himself as a testimonial, a trusted resource, so he can make some affiliate cash.
    Frank Kern doesn't use testimonials much either. He says if your sales copy is good then there is no need.
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    • Profile picture of the author John_Reese
      For anyone still misunderstanding what I said, allow me to clarify please...

      The "REMOVE ALL TESTIMONIALS" comment was in the context of discussing the new FTC guidelines related to using results in your marketing.

      I should have clarified my statement because I wasn't referring to testimonials in the sense of, "This is a great product. I highly recommend it to others just getting started" etc. etc.

      I meant SUCCESS STORIES. The testimonials that the FTC is targeting are the RESULTS-BASED ones.

      According to their crazy new guidelines you can't use any testimonial that states a result unless that result is typical. So if someone says "I made $10 my first week after reading your ebook" yet the average or "typical" person that buys your ebook doesn't make $10 in their first week, then you can't use that testimonial in your marketing.

      The legal gray area is what does "typical" mean? The average person that buys the product? The average person that buys that product and takes action?

      The feedback I've heard about this new guideline from an FTC attorney (for any make money products) is to have NO INCOME CLAIMS at all. So that would include any testimonials that state anything about money they made.

      Sorry for the confusion about my "remove all testimonials" statement.

      -John Reese
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Anthony
    I have no problem with the statement even more so now that it has been clarified. People need to understand who is being targeted here. I guarantee you this will fall more on IM gurus (and therefore the reactions).

    I don't think for a moment that Pepsi will show a guy with a bunch of girls hanging on to him and have to show proof of reasonable expected results. Making money ads are the focus. Reese and Kern have ever right to feel some paranoia. They ARE in the center of the bullseye.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dennis-White
    Hmm.... im up in the air about this
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    Affiliate Marketer, business builder and Content Creator >Grab My FREE Internet Marketing Profits Book Here<

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  • Profile picture of the author Ricardo-Acosta
    The title was a pretty bold statement

    thanks for clearing it up, JR. I was about to opt out of all your sites.......Just kidding.

    For anyone still misunderstanding what I said, allow me to clarify please...

    The "REMOVE ALL TESTIMONIALS" comment was in the context of discussing the new FTC guidelines related to using results in your marketing.

    I should have clarified my statement because I wasn't referring to testimonials in the sense of, "This is a great product. I highly recommend it to others just getting started" etc. etc.

    I meant SUCCESS STORIES. The testimonials that the FTC is targeting are the RESULTS-BASED ones.

    According to their crazy new guidelines you can't use any testimonial that states a result unless that result is typical. So if someone says "I made $10 my first week after reading your ebook" yet the average or "typical" person that buys your ebook doesn't make $10 in their first week, then you can't use that testimonial in your marketing.

    The legal gray area is what does "typical" mean? The average person that buys the product? The average person that buys that product and takes action?

    The feedback I've heard about this new guideline from an FTC attorney (for any make money products) is to have NO INCOME CLAIMS at all. So that would include any testimonials that state anything about money they made.

    Sorry for the confusion about my "remove all testimonials" statement.
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