Lisa Robbin Young

7 Marketing Mistakes That Could Get You In Legal Trouble

Pixabay. CCO Licensed.

When marketing your business, you need to be careful of which tactics you use. Certain marketing methods could see you facing a lawsuit or heavy fines. Many people adopt these tactics without even realising that they could be deemed illegal. Below are 7 examples of the marketing mistakes you should be avoiding. 

Using images without permission

When using images from third-party sources within your marketing, it’s important to always ask the owner of these images for permission. Images are protected by copyright law - if the owner has not stated that anyone can use their images, you must get permission first, otherwise you could get sued for copyright infringement. Many photographers and artists charge people to use their images, however royalty-free photos and images do exist. These can be worth using if you’re a small business on a tight budget or simply looking for images for blog posts. Make sure that you also credit images when you use them - even if they are royalty-free.

Copying another company’s logo

It’s also important that your logo is original. While it’s okay to take inspiration from competitors’ logos, you should be careful of making your logo look too similar - if this competitor stumbles across your logo, they’re likely to sue. This is particularly the case if the logo you’ve copied is trademarked. With so many companies out there, it is possible to accidentally come up with a near identical logo, in which case you may be able to defend yourself. However, if it’s obvious that you’re aware of the competitor, then you likely won’t be able to get out of the lawsuit. 

Stealing written content from other websites

Did you know that written content on other websites is also protected by copyright? Nabbing a few sentences from a competitor’s website could see you facing legal action if the competitor finds out. While you can take inspiration from other websites, it’s important to try to make all written content original. No copying and pasting! Hiring copywriters could be a solution if you don’t have the time to write your own original written content. 

Badmouthing your competitors

You should also be careful what you say about competitors in your marketing. Making your competitors look bad could be viewed as defamation. This is a sueable offence and could cost you a lot of money. It’s for this reason that you rarely ever see brands attacking each other (and if they do, it’s usually only ever done humorously or indirectly). In fact, it’s often best not to mention your competitors at all. 

Adding recipients unwillingly to your mailing list

When building a mailing list, it’s important that your subscribers willingly sign up. Adding random people to your mailing list is classed as spamming - which is illegal in many countries around the world. Even if you’re certain a customer would value being on your mailing list, you must encourage them to join of their own accord. Make sure that you also provide a link in all your emails that allows people to easily unsubscribe at any time if they no longer want to be on your mailing list. 

Posting fake reviews

Creating a fake account and writing a positive review of your company (or a negative review of a competitor) can be tempting. However, it’s actually illegal in many countries if you get caught. Instead, you should always try to acquire reviews naturally. You can of course ask customers to leave reviews. However, it must be the customer who is writing and publishing the review - you cannot write a review on their behalf. 

Using false claims in your advertising

Lying in business is generally never a good idea. It’s particularly important to not deceive people with your marketing strategies. False advertising is illegal and some companies have faced huge fines for it. What are some examples of false advertising? Using incorrect stats or studies to back up claims is one common example. Claiming that a service is a certain price and then charging a different figure is another example of false advertising. And there’s also the common false claim that a product can do something that it can’t do (such as claiming a toy is waterproof, when it isn’t). To avoid all these forms of false advertising, it’s important that you only use information about your product that you know is accurate. If you’re unsure of a fact, research it first. Make sure that any studies also come from trusted sources.

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