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Some false advertising pitfalls all small businesses should avoid

Few small businesses can afford an advertising staff that is well versed as to how to market a product or service. Instead, many business owners have to rely on their own efforts to get the word out. It's at a time like this, when they're either stretched thin or venture into unfamiliar territory, that a business owner is most apt to make a poor decision. It's then that they're most vulnerable to get into hot water for false advertising.

False advertising is defined as any type of marketing that misleads consumers or otherwise omits information critical to helping a customer make a purchase decision.

One of the more common pitfalls inexperienced advertisers make is exaggerating the benefits a product can provide. While it's possible for advertisers to get away with some degree of exaggeration, there must be a clearly defined distinction made between what is realistic and what is possible or otherwise dramatized for theatrical effect.

Among the different reasons small business owners may launch their companies is because they think they can do something more effectively than their competitor. As a result, many business owners may think that one way to show how they're different from the rest by badmouthing them.

Before you do so, though, you should make sure that you can substantiate your claim. This is perhaps one of the more common reasons that false advertising lawsuits get filed against another company. It essentially amounts to making false accusations against another. Therefore, no matter how informal the claim may come off as, make sure you can back it up.

Word-of-mouth advertising, in the form of customer testimonials, is one of the least expensive types of marketing that a startup company can get at its early stages. However, before you use that customer's statements to advertise your product or business, it's important that you get their permission to use their comments first.

If you happen to be selling a medical product, you should know that you can't market the product simply based on customer testimonials alone. Instead, you also need to provide scientific proof it works.

Claims of false or misleading advertising can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission or the Minnesota Attorney General's Office. If you've been accused of having violated false advertising laws, then you may benefit from the guidance that a Vadnais Heights, Minnesota, consumer fraud attorney can provide in your case.

Source: FindLaw, "5 FAQs about unlawful advertising for small businesses," George Khoury, accessed July 06, 2017

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