Are Your Client Testimonials Legally Protected?

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Are Your Client Testimonials Legally Protected? Today I’m sharing legal tips for your client testimonials so you don’t get hit with fines or lawsuits. Remember, for any questions about your own testimonials, consult with your own local attorney.

There’s a Federal law that tells you how you can / can’t collect client testimonials legally from your clients. If you ask a client for a testimonial the ‘wrong’ way, you could be violating that policy with every single ask.

Here are 3 quick legal tips you need to know about collecting client testimonials, the legally protected way:

[1] you can ask clients for feedback

It’s totally cool to ask clients for feedback by filling out a form, emailing you their comments, leaving a review on your site, etc. The issue is all about how present it and if you offer them something in return.

[2] disclosure

When you start out, you might offer a few free sessions to clients in exchange for a testimonial. It’s actually a great way to practice, build your portfolio, and attract more new clients.

If you make the testimonial a required part of the exchange for free sessions, you’re required to disclose that info when posting the person’s testimonial on your site, social media pages or emails.

Anytime you offer something of value (a free service, gift, etc.) in exchange for a testimonial, you’ll have to disclose it clearly wherever posted.

But it’s not just direct gifts of value we’re worried about here. It’s also about perceived value.

For example, if your clients own their own businesses and you offer to feature their testimonial on your website, that advertisement of their business could be considered ‘value’ to them and may require disclosure.

You’re not the only one on the hook. You should tell your client to mention in her testimonial what she received in exchange for leaving one.

[3] you can surprise gift them afterwards

If you want to say “thanks!” with a gift card or cute note after someone leaves you a positive testimonial, that’s 100% OK as long as they didn’t expect it when they gave their testimonial.

The key here is that you didn’t tell the client  *beforehand* that she’d get a special gift if she filled out a testimonial for you.

Remember, though: even if you tell the client that you’re just going to use their testimonial in an ad (aka. Social media post or on your website — that counts!), then there could be some perceived value there, depending on what your client does.

So there you have it!

I think the key here is disclosure. Being upfront and honest with your audience is always a good idea. And when it doubt, disclose it ; )

Do you have any questions about asking your clients for testimonials? Drop a comment below or contact me here.

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  1. Question…does this only count if you use their name/pic? What if you just use words from clients/others on Instagram and don’t use their name? Would you still disclose anything?

    1. Hey Victoria! Great question : ) I don’t think it would matter that you’re using or not using their name/picture. The idea is if you’re sharing someone’s words in support of your work, and they were offered an incentive to give those kind words, it should be disclosed. That’s just my reading of it! Hope this helps. xo, Sam

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this info!! I’m starting to offer online personal training soon and trying to get familiar with all the legal stuff!! I have a question related to testimonials: I’m trading discounted services for referrals as I’m getting started, and I was wondering if I can suggest to clients they leave a testimonial after the services are over, presenting them with an option and telling them there’s no obligation to leave one but suggesting it all the same. How does the law view this type testimonial interaction? Thank you so much again for sharing this information!!

    1. Hey Maille! You’re so welcome. In the US — the law basically states that if someone is offered something for free or discounted in exchange for offering a review/testimonial, you have to state so in the testimonial itself and in your website policies. If you simply ask someone for a testimonial, but don’t offer or ask for it in exchange for anything else, it sounds like you should be OK. But you should definitely explore the article I linked to in the post from the FTC : ) If you have any questions, feel free to email me! xo

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