There are laws that regulate literally every type of advertising but when it comes down to healthcare and any health, medical or pharmaceutical products or services, the federal government is particularly watchful to ensure any promises are ethical and can be proven. All advertising is monitored strictly by the Federal Trade Commission and even though there are strict and very precise ‘truth-in-advertising’ regulations (laws) on the books, there is still a wide gap between what can be regulated and what tends to fall between the cracks.
Therefore, when marketing for the healthcare industry in any way, shape or form, especially when strategizing SEO campaigns, it is imperative to leave nothing up to conjecture. Innumerable lawsuits have resulted from misleading advertising in the health arena so it is imperative to cross your t’s, dot your I’s and follow health law and policy very, very closely.
One Professional Every Health Marketing Agency Should Employ
What do you think of when you hear that someone is studying at a university such as Hofstra in the Maurice A. Deane School of Law? Typically, you’d think that they were studying to be a lawyer or a paralegal, right? Well, that doesn’t always need to be the case because a marketing agency that deals strictly with health products and healthcare of any form could do well with a professional who holds a masters in health law.
The reason for this should be fairly obvious, but unless you’ve ever ended on the wrong side of a marketing lawsuit, you might not understand just how serious this type of breach of ethics really is. The federal government doesn’t take lightly to misleading or false advertising and if you are convicted of either, a very stiff penalty could ensue.
Carefully Crafted SEO for Health Marketing
Since SEO, Search Engine Optimization, relies heavily on what a consumer is likely to search for, this puts an extra amount of responsibility on the part of the marketing professional. What a person ‘might’ search for wouldn’t always be allowable by law because it could be misleading or simply untrue. Yet that’s what the searcher wants to find, so what do you do?
This is where having that health law and policy degree would come in handy. It is here that you would be able to play with words a bit so that a search would rank but also you would not be misleading in your marketing. Yes, it’s a sticky subject and could border on what is considered ethical, but if you are out to sell product or services, you need to capture a market.
What You Can Conclude
Although some of the exact wording of the FTC’s regulations may be a bit ambiguous or unclear, what you can conclude is that you can’t make any false promises or mislead consumers in any way. You especially cannot promote a product or service as safe if there is any question whatsoever as to the validity of what you are saying. Some products have warnings which must be clearly stated and others are not formulated for certain segments of the population such as seniors or pregnant women.
If at all in doubt, consult with someone well versed in healthcare law. It’s the only way to protect yourself as a marketer and your client who would be just as ‘guilty’ if an offense is determined in a court of law. As the old adage goes, it is better to be safe than sorry.