The US FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has introduced new rules about the use of testimonials. Bottom-line: you can’t just quote the happiest and most successful testimonials, you have to disclose how “everybody” does and what “average” is.
It seems that “some” people are very, very concerned about this, most notably bureaucrats who believe you don’t have the ability to think for yourself and honestly assess when someone’s lying to you when they promise the moon. Let me just say, if you can’t rationalize fact from fiction and are unable to come to your own, well thought-out conclusions, do us both a favor and leave this site.
Why do I say this? Because like any business we are not a perfect match for everyone. Some people follow our advice and get great results while others don’t. I hope it comes as no shock, but with the 1,000’s of moving parts in any business, changing one or two things (in our case, those things related to your marketing) might be all you need to achieve success. And then again, you might be failing in other, key areas. It’s up to you to figure that part out.
I get emails with glowing success stories and permission to use them (and I do post them). From time to time I also get complaints (hope that doesn’t surprise you either) and we seek to resolve those immediately. Most of them, however, are not related to our advice, but rather a spam complaint because someone (not us) put their email on our list. In any case, I do not ask for permission to use those complaints and we do not post them on our website. Call it bad karma, but I just don’t see the value in posting a wild hair rant on my site.
In the interest in (even more) full disclosure I have republished relevant content from Perry Marshall’s website. His remarks are so well stated I’ve included them for you here. Again, I’m assuming none of this comes as a newsflash…
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.
(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.
My Recommendations and Affiliate Links
The FTC’s disclosure also covers when I praise or recommend a product or service. Regarding this, let me say it is entirely possible that I am being compensated in some way, shape or form for recommending a particular product or service. 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.
A big part of my mission with my business is to test out new marketing and sales-related services, books and products especially well-suited for small businesses and their marketing directors. I then report the results (often with a step-by-step “how-to”) for your benefit.
Some of the products and services are sponsored, and sometimes I am given a review copy or free use of a service. But more often my reviews are done on products and services I’ve purchased myself.
Regardless of compensation (or promise thereof), I give the same consideration to all my work. I’m known for my candid, matter-of-fact style, and am just as quick to tell you what NOT to use as I am to recommend resources I find incredibly helpful.
The FTC also wants me to tell you the content on any of my sites may or may not contain affiliate links, which means that I am paid for referrals to certain sites or products. Regardless of whether I’m compensated or not, I will never promote or recommend a product that I wouldn’t use myself. I would never risk losing you as a reader or customer by promoting anything that doesn’t meet my own standards.
So, given that many of the same products and services I recommend (and use myself) 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.