4 Marketing Laws Every Business Needs to Know About

marketing laws

Creating a marketing campaign is a daunting task all its own. Market research, content creation, keyword research… the list goes on. This is especially true for small business owners and those who don’t have massive budgets to outsource this portion of their business. 

As you go about creating a marketing campaign, one thing you can’t forget is that advertising has its own set of laws. Break one, or multiple, and you could wind up paying thousands of dollars in fines. 

If your budget allows, the best course of action is, of course, to hire a lawyer to review your marketing campaigns. Having a professional who knows the laws is a huge benefit. They’re able to bring up potential issues before they can become a problem for your business. 

In reality, this isn’t something most businesses can do for every marketing campaign they embark on. If you fall in this category the best option is to consult a lawyer when you really need to, and if possible take a crash course on marketing laws. 

Today we’re going to provide you with a brief description of the 4 major marketing laws every company should be aware of. 

1. Trust in Advertising Standards

We’re starting with this because it’s undeniably one of the most important laws to know. Truth in Advertising Standards was designed to prevent fraudulent advertising, stop scams, and help people who are fraud victims. It was set forth by the FTC and applies to all types of media, including print, mail, online, or billboard advertisements.

These standards ensure that companies are not promising false or misleading health claims,

funeral advertising, or participating in fraudulent or deceptive gift card practices. Basically, that companies can’t use misleading ads to trick consumers into purchasing an item or service. 

At its core, Truth in Advertising Standards is designed to make sure companies stay honest in their advertising. As long as you aren’t misleading consumers you should be fine. 

2. Copyright Laws in Advertising

Images are one of the most effective ways to communicate your marketing messages. Before you go grabbing any old image from the internet make sure you’ve done your research. 

Not every image online can be used for marketing, especially not without some kind of cost. Photographers, artists, and creators hold what is called copyright on their creations. This means they have a say over how and when it is used. Legally, they hold copyright from the moment they’ve produced their art, image, etc. To uphold their copy they do have to file for registration, but you don’t want it to go that far. 

Copyright is not the same as a patent or trademark so make sure you’re aware of that. 

Here are the main things you need to know about copyright:

-Make sure you have permission to use images. Royalty-free and open-source images are a great way to get free content you can use. 

-Don’t take phrases, content, or photos from other brands (customers want you to be unique anyway).

-Don’t make changes to a photo without explicit permission to do so. 

-Provide backlinks to the content creator when necessary.

3. Terms of Use

Copyright laws fall under an umbrella category called “terms of use.” While terms of use aren’t technically in themselves a law, they are a strict regulation for media usage. 

This connects with copyright law in the fact that you can’t use every image in every situation. Some media, those with what is called a “standard license,” can be used in advertising, on websites, and in other business-related.

In some circumstances, a company can exceed the standard license and need a fee paid for what is called an “extended license.” This could be to allow you to alter a photo, to use a video for marketing, etc. Each case is different so be sure to know the usage for each photo, video, or portion of copy that you use. 

4. Data Usage Laws

Every country has differing laws on the collection and usage of user data. Beyond that, most have different laws for data usage for children than they do adults. It’s important to be informed of these unique laws for the country or countries you do business in. Here in the U.S. this even varies by state! 

In the United States, the Privacy Act of 1974 was established to ensure fair practices on the collection, maintenance, and use of data in the U.S. This is a great place to go to first when you’re researching data usage laws. 

In Europe, they have the GDPR. This created a limit to how much data can be collected, how it can be stored and provides users the right to ask for their information to be deleted. If your site has any European users this applies to you, no matter where your business is located. 

These are the top 4 marketing laws you should be aware of. If you’re working with influencers, advertising specifically to children, in the medical/health arena, or work with claims about the environment there are additional laws. Be sure to consult a lawyer when you’re able to, to do thorough research on the laws specific to your location, industry, and market. It’s easy to overlook these laws or make mistakes when you haven’t taken the time to do adequate research. Once you have though, it will allow you to move forward with your next marketing campaign empowered knowing that you’re making informed, responsible decisions. 

At the end of the day remember the most important thing is, to be honest in your marketing. Your consumers are trusting your brand to lead them well and to be trustworthy above all else.