Promoting Your Business Legally

The only way a business is going to attract customers is by that company letting consumers know they are open for business whilst at the same time letting them know what exactly it is they have to offer. In regards to both promoting and advertising your business legally you will of course need to adhere to advertising codes of conduct and as such ensure you do advertise your business in such a way as it adheres to current legislation.

There are a number of cost effective ways in which a company can advertise their services and goods, and many of these forms of advertising will have their own codes of conducts and legal restraints. So for example if you are planning on advertising via a televisions commercial then the advertising agency making your advert will often be a bale to guide you in regard to what you can and cannot say during your commercial!

Below we have compiled a listing of several different legal ways you could look to promote your business, and whilst each one listed will have its own costs involved you may find one which will be of interest to you and one which will be aimed at your target audience.

Radio – Did you know that more people listen to the radio between the hours of 7 and 9am and 3 and 6pm each weekday? These are generally the people you will be wanting to attract, as these are generally the workers who have money to spend. Depending on what you are advertising will greatly influence the technique used to grab someone’s attention. For example, if you have a garden centre and want to attract the mums to a new mums and tots afternoon, you’d probably use a silky voiced man.

However, there are limits to how you can advertise it legally. As the radio waves are regulated by OFCOM, you will be able to find all of the guidelines on their website. However in a nut shell, on the radio, advertisements cannot contain references to drugs, illegal activities such as crime and violence, subliminal messages that could promote incitement of hatred or terrorism, sexual references or religious references.

Television – No matter what time of day you put an ad out, there will be someone watching, but what you need to do here is actually think of your target market. If you’re a toy shop, you want to really be looking at kids TV between the hours of around 10am and 6pm. If you’re a supermarket, you can take your pick because we all need to eat! However, if you’re a music store selling instruments, you want to be looking at the music channels from 6pm onwards. This is when the workers are home and watching their favourite music videos. Unlike radio, which is completely indirect due to their being no images, TV is a very visual method, and as such, comes with strict guidelines similar to the ones for radio but with the visual rules attached as well. The biggest difference is that you can have no nudity, no visual references to sex, no religious symbols, no drugs, no alcohol (before the watershed) and avoid politics at all costs, although not a legal requirement, you don’t want to alienate a potential client base!

Billboard – Billboards are an inexpensive way of reaching the masses who walk or drive past. However, you must remember that location is absolutely everything! If you are advertising your bakery, you don’t really want to be advertising it more than around 5 miles away, as anything more, and people aren’t going to pay attention. The rules visually are the same as TV. No sex, violence, drugs etc. Also there is the issue of subliminal messaging. For example, a fruit and veg shop would be in breach of these guidelines with;

Grapes. Apples. Nectarines. Jaffas. Apricots. due to the subliminal reference to cannabis (see if you can spot it). However playing on words, such as a music shop using the slogan “Want Funk?” although a little tongue in cheek, will for the most part be OK unless a member of the public complains. You will need to be very careful with your text format. Firstly because most people that see it will be driving, so it needs to be short and sweet, but it’s also a distance away, so the text needs to be big and clear. Imagine driving past a billboard with all this text on it and trying to read it while going at 30MPH!

Leaflets – Leaflets are a very practical and cost effective way to reach the masses in their own homes without a costly TV ad campaign. All it takes is a little man power and enough leaflets to reach potentially thousands of people. The rules for leaflets are essentially the same as billboards, the only major difference is that you can put as much text on them as you like without fear that it’s too much. Since when did you see your local Pizza Place’s entire menu on a billboard?! The rules still apply for sex, drugs and subliminal messaging, along with incitement of hatred and promotion of violence.

All of the above methods of advertising share a set of rules, and these are all covered under The Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations 1988. Basically it stipulates that you cannot claim your product will do anything without solid proof, for example; the National Lottery could not run an ad saying that YOU (implicitly stipulating the reader) WILL WIN (there is no doubt it will happen) THE £3MILLION JACKPOT (the amount shown on the ad). You can also not claim that something is vegetarian, for example a cheese and onion pie, if the pastry actually contains animal rennet.