You Inc. Commandment #10: Honor Thy Laws & Regulations

If you’re selling products or services, there are certain rules and regulations that you must abide by, whether they are set by the company for whom you distribute products, platforms that you use to advertise (like Google or Facebook), or governmental agencies.
There are rules governing: Advertising, Trademarks, Copyrights, Testimonials, Website Content…TaJust to name a few… ; )

Here’s The Bottom Line…


You can’t afford to get caught with your pants down when marketing online, the stakes are too high.

Don’t believe me?!?

Your website may be seized by the US Government, you can be subject to enormous fines by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), or you can be the subject of a costly civil lawsuit.

How costly?

Well, I have clients that have paid in excess of $100,000 BEFORE setting foot in a courtroom.

First, A Little Background…

Many of you know that I’m an attorney.

But did you know that due to requests from my friend, Jim Yaghi and my husband, Rich Hazlett, I spent months researching the causes of the infamous Google Slap, poured through the pages and pages of advertising terms and conditions and the FTC guidelines?

In doing so, I noticed a trend.

The US Government and their respective regulatory agencies like the FTC have one concern:

Protecting the American Consumer from YOU!

Why does the government feel the need to do this? 2 reasons:

1.  The government knows everything… (LOL!)

2. The government thinks American consumers are idiots and can’t decide for themselves what is and is not good for them.

Some Examples…

The Government believes that American consumers are too foolish to realize that work from home opportunities carry some level of risk.

…That just because one person made $200K in a month doesn’t mean that they will experience the same result.

…That just because one person lost 100 lbs in 3 months, that they may not achieve the same results.

  …That the amount of money you make online is dependent upon your skills, effort and the value you bring to the marketplace.

…That consumers have to be blatantly TOLD that someone may make money off of a recommendation they make on their website because they’re too stupid to figure that out on their own.

… That if you sign up for a monthly membership site, your credit card will be charged, um, monthly.

As a result, the FTC is coming down hard on online marketers.

If you aren’t aware of the FTC’s regulations (or if you’re aware of them, but not abiding by them) then you’re putting your business at risk.

And if you don’t have a separate business entity, you’re putting your family at risk by being personally liable for any fines, etc. that the FTC or other agencies may see fit to impose.

This is very serious stuff. 

If you think that you need to be making a ton of money to be sued, you’re sorely mistaken.

Ask the 16-year old sued for millions of dollars by the recording industry for file-sharing…

Another reason that you need to abide by rules and regulations is to ensure you aren’t jeopardizing your business relationships, which can result in your distributorship agreement being terminated, or you advertising account being suspended if you’re a Pay-Per-Click marketer.

Why do companies have certain rules in place with respect to their distributors or advertisers, for example?

Businesses like to avoid getting cross-ways with the Government

Agree with me on that one? Hope so! ; )

I believe that this is the reason that businesses (like Google, Facebook and others) are not going to let their customers jeopardize their business by doing things that the government does not approve of or believes may “mislead” the American consumer.

(Yes, regardless of how much money an advertiser spends with them!)

Don’t believe me?  Try advertising prostitution on Google….

Point is, they want their customers (advertisers) to act in a manner that won’t hack off the government and its army of federal regulators.

As a result, Facebook, for example, does not allow ads:

“where a business model or practice is deemed unacceptable or contrary to Facebook’s overall advertising philosophy.”

How vague is that?  Think that at some point, Facebook could find Network Marketing as an unacceptable business model?

I think it’s definitely a possibility.

In fact, Facebook does not allow ads for:

“Get rich quick and other money making opportunities that offer compensation for little or no investment, including “work from home” opportunities positioned as alternatives to part-time or full-time employment or promises of monetary gain with no strings attached”

Ouch!

How many network marketers are trying to run ads that talk about alternatives to part-time or full-time employment? Or money-making opportunities offering compensation for very little (or no investment?)

Too many to count, that’s how many!

The sad thing is that most people haven’t bothered to learn the “rules of the road” when it comes to this new world of Internet Marketing.

As a result, another crop of marketers will be sent to the Internet Advertiser’s Graveyard.

The Rules of Internet Marketing are Changing.

If your plan is to have a sustainable online business, you must start paying attention to the guidelines, regulations and laws that govern your online marketing efforts.

If not, you may find all of your hard work circling the toilet bowl.

You cannot build your business on a foundation made of quicksand.

In short…

Honor Thy Rules & Regulations!

  • Protect yourself by making sure that you have an appropriate liability safeguards in place (by not conducting business in your personal name);
  • Protect yourself by having the appropriate legal disclaimers on your website;
  • Educate yourself about the applicable rules pertaining to online marketing;
  • Most importantly protect yourself by becoming familiar with the applicable advertising platform guidelines if you are running pay-per-click advertising
  • Keep in mind the overly protective government when advertising online.

Most of all, remember that honesty and transparency are two essential keys to staying safe in this new online world.

If you would like to learn more about the legal land mines that exist online, check out this complimentary 60-minute webinar presentation to discover the 8 mistakes most internet marketers make online that can cost them a fortune!

Like this article? Share your comments below! If you think someone can benefit from this information, please share it!

To the Top!

 

19 Responses to “You Inc. Commandment #10: Honor Thy Laws & Regulations”

  1. Nile Says:

    I do not allow for many of those advertisements as well. For bloggers who do paid to post opportunities for brands or services, they have to have either a site disclosure page somewhere easily found, or within the post. It must state that they take sponsored opportunities or do endorsements.

    I am with this because some of the reviews out there are published at a frequency and with little consideration that people want a real review by someone that really used the product or service.

    Thank you for sharing this!
    Nile recently posted..Display First WordPress Full Entry and then Following as Excerpts

  2. Peter Fuller MBA Says:

    Thanks for the excellent tips Natasha.

    Many home businesses think that they will never be picked on by the FTC, especially cash gifters, but the risk is huge.

    Peter
    Peter Fuller MBA recently posted..The Easiest and Best Way to Make Money Online

  3. Natasha Nassar Says:

    @Peter Fuller MBA, You’re right Peter. People think that only the “big guys” will get caught….not true! Thanks for stopping by!
    Natasha Nassar recently posted..Building The Success Snowball

  4. Natasha Nassar Says:

    @Nile, You raise a great point- it’s actually one of the 8 mistakes I discuss in the complimentary webinar I mentioned in the article! This will come to haunt a lot of unsuspecting marketers, I’m afraid! Thanks for bringing up this very important issue, Nile : )
    Natasha Nassar recently posted..You Inc. Commandment #10: Honor Thy Laws & Regulations

  5. Anthony McNeil Says:

    Hello Natasha,

    EXCELLENT post! This is stuff that I would bet 85% of those marketing online never think about.

    This is stuff people need to really educate themselves on. In this case ignorance can cost you a lot of money.

    I recently shared a video on my blog from the FTC which outlines the new rules for Home Based Opportunities. These new rules go into effect on March 12,2012.

    If I may here’s the link to that post: http://steps2success.biz/the-ftc-new-ruling-on-business-opportunities.

    Thanks for sharing this,

    Anthony

  6. Rick Lelchuk Says:

    Natasha,

    As right as you are about these points I felt myself getting boiling made at our government for sticking their noses in our business. The older I get the less involvement I want from my government. So, no promises in public, no prostitution, no drugs and no birthday cake for my congressmen.

    RICK
    Rick Lelchuk recently posted..2012 – Wishing You A Year of Total Discomfort

  7. marquita herald Says:

    Pretty scary, but important advice Natasha. Reading your article I realized how I little I pay attention to reviews anymore because I just don’t trust their authenticity. It’s not just the online marketers either – one of the reasons I left direct sales was because there were just too many promises being made that I knew weren’t being delivered and I hated feeling dishonest by association.
    marquita herald recently posted..Can You Honestly Say Your Lifestyle Choices Have been Your Own?

  8. Sharon Johnson Says:

    Thank You Natasha
    I had no idea, I do abide by all rules of the programs, media and other sites.
    But I just did not think about there being a legal aspect to it all.
    But I will certainly look into it know
    Thank You
    Sharon
    Sharon Johnson recently posted..It Is Essential to Have All In One WP SEO Plug-in

  9. Cynthia Says:

    WOW. I never read the fine print. Who does? (other than you) lol
    I didn’t know that Facebook didn’t accept ads for MLM and money making opportunities. I actually got my google adsense suspended and one of my sites complete deindexed… I am still trying to figure it out why?

    I guess it is a learning curve.

    I am certainly bookmarking your site. I will be coming back to watch that video. Also, this year I am going to switch my business to it’s own entity…

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH for the info!
    Cynthia recently posted..Video SEO – YouTube Search Engine Optimization

  10. David Merrill Says:

    You sure know how to scare me, Natasha!

    I guess I just plod along doing my thing out here with barely a thought to the legalities involved. I guess our blogs should be put in corporations, or some other legal entity that is not us.

    Moreover, I certainly hope everyone (not just internet marketers) pressure the US House of Rep to shelve bill HR 3261, the “Stop Online Piracy Act” or “SOPA”. The government loves to “protect” us from things like online piracy, while they grab ever increasing power for themselves to regulate… us! Or at least everything we do, including trying to operate on online business.

    This is not to say we should be cavalier with our businesses. But instead of having to heed to government edicts that have not basis in sound business principles, we could start by giving a few more kudos to Google, Facebook and the other biggies that try to hold our feet to the fire by operating honestly and intelligently, and by the way, in our OWN BEST INTEREST.

    For instance, why should Facebook have to “force” us to not bombard our status and pages with ugly and unwanted spam when we should already know that spam is NOT the way to build great customer lists.

    So thanks for the advice, Natasha. I intend to look deeper into the liability matters (and remedies) involving online properties.
    David Merrill recently posted..Make A Fan Page | Your New FB Profile

  11. Holly Says:

    I can’t say as I know much about this at all.. But ignorance isn’t always a good thing!! So I will check out your webinar and see what i need to know! Thanks for you expertise!
    Holly recently posted..Things That You Really Can Do During The Holidays

  12. clare@holistichealth Says:

    Hi Natasha,

    This is a very important subject for all entrepreneurs small and large, and I am sure many of us are not actively protecting ourselves from potential legal issues. I have recently begun to take all these requirements seriously as I grow my online presence and my blogs are becoming real businesses. I have formed an LLC for this reason. I will watch your webinar to learn more.

    Much appreciated.
    Clare
    clare@holistichealth recently posted..2012 Holistic Health Theme for ClareKelway.com

  13. Paul Reimers Says:

    Thanks for sharing this important info Natasha,

    Most entrepreneurs are opportunity and expansion minded and often overlooked the important things like compliance with the company they may be a distributor for or, as you mentioned, the regulations for the platforms they are marketing on.

    It’s great to focus on increasing income, but overlooking the things that are necessary to KEEP that money is a huge mistake.
    Paul Reimers recently posted..Review of Empower Network – Will This Tool Really Help You Build Your Business?

  14. Natasha Nassar Says:

    @Anthony McNeil, Thanks for sharing that, Anthony! Lots of new rules- and there will be lots more to come!
    Natasha Nassar recently posted..You Inc. Commandment #10: Honor Thy Laws & Regulations

  15. Andy Nathan Says:

    Natasha,

    I read through all this and then remembered that I had to actually create a TOS and Earnings and Disclosure Statement for one of my sites. Many thanks for the attention to detail on this.

    Andy
    Andy Nathan recently posted..Social Lately Webinar Re-do

  16. Joyce Edwards Says:

    Thanks for the great info. I have been reading and hearing more about how the government is cracking down on the internet but always thought I was a small potatoe. I see now that compliance is something that I will need to cover myself for future business. Can’t wait to see your webinar.
    Joyce Edwards recently posted..The Shot Gun Approach: When you know that your doctor has no idea what’s wrong with you

  17. Lynda Cromar Says:

    I learned from a brush with the IRS a few years ago, never to get into their radar. The best possible way to do that, is to follow their rules. Always always follow the rules. It just doesn’t pay, and this is not about just online but anything. I don’t speed, I pay my taxes, and I give an honest face to everything, it makes it a whole lot easier doesn’t it!

  18. MLM Warrior Mindset Says:

    I was wondering why it seem like I was the only one who had a disclamier on my website. I also was wondering why so many website out there don’t have a disclamer in place.

    Thanks for the awesome tips and I have to get my business out my name A.S.A.P after reading your post.

    Thanks again,

    ~Willie
    MLM Warrior Mindset recently posted..Entrepreneur Mindset| How to ensure you stay out the Red!

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