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Testimonials are an important part of business online, but (at least if you live in the US, you need to make sure they are compliant with Federal Trade Commission guidelines.

Before we get too far into this, note that this is just my personal opinion, I am not an attorney. If you need specific information about whether the testimonials on your site fit the guidelines, please check with your lawyer.

Now, that that is out of the way, here’s that I think.

Before the FTC guidelines were put in place, you could put out your very best testimonials – the ones where your clients doubled their business over night – but had to add a little note saying that you results would vary or that the results in the testimonial weren’t typical. So, you could show that some clients were very successful but that success was not guaranteed.

The thing is, not every one of your clients is going to be successful. Some clients start great guns – and then don’t follow up. For instance, if you signed up for my Gold program and didn’t do the modules, you wouldn’t see any growth in your business. Your part is just as important as mine. We work together for your success. So, the old rules were good for companies because it let you show off your very best client success stories.

“Typical” Results

OK, so now your testimonials must be authentic – and they must show typical results. So, instead of saying – Lisa lost 30 pounds in 3 days – you need to say what a typical client can expect when they follow the program. So, you might say – “If you follow the program as directed, you can expect to lose 3 lbs a week.

Easy enough if you are a weight loss program – what about coaching? The trick here is that people come to you with different levels of skill and motivation. One person may do everything you say and succeed wildly – but someone else doesn’t do the work or get the results.

This is what make the new rules tricky. How DO you show typical results – when you don’t have typical clients… this is important because the FTC can levy fines of up to $11,000 per incident for violations.

The Solution – Provide more information

In my previous post on testimonials, I shared a list of questions to ask a potential client giving you a testimonial. The answers to these questions are key to creating some context for your testimonial. Let say one of your clients doubles their income in one month. You can’t use that testimonial as is because it is not typical for your business. But, you could use it as part of a case study where you explain the client’s previous experience, and the steps they took to succeed following your coaching advice. The more details you add to the story, the more credible it becomes.

How have the FTC rules changed how you use testimonials in your business, leave your comment below.