50% of your regulatory & marketing compliance checklists are disclaimers
If you look closely, you can see disclaimers are all around us. In fact, we've found that disclaimers typically make up 50% of the items in legal and compliance checklists. That is a lot of effort to make sure marketing teams copy and paste the correct text!
Why so much attention? Disclaimers are not as simple as you think. In regulated industries, companies must provide consumers with clear and accurate information. Failing to do so could result in customer complaints and even fines. Disclaimers may help to qualify messages, so they are not misleading or deceptive. However, you should not rely solely on disclaimers. While regulators will factor in the disclaimer, they will also check whether the disclaimer is clear, robust, and aligns to the overall message.
Lengthy disclaimers may also damage your brand. Consumers may not read the disclaimer and miss relevant information. Additionally, consumers may see the disclaimer and immediately not trust your brand. Disclaimers look like you are trying to hide something, particularly with long, small print disclaimers -- people see them, they just can't be bothered reading them.
Regardless, disclaimers are essential for consumers, marketing and legal teams, so here are our top tips for disclaimers:
Elaborate on headline message
Disclaimers should ideally explain a message or include information too lengthy for the body. It is best to avoid using disclaimers that add conditions, exclusions, or criteria that might negate any headline claims.
Exact or close enough
Agree amongst your team and stakeholders, if they need to include the exact disclaimer, or if you allow some liberties. The more customisation you allow, the harder it will be to standardise your processes and train new staff.
Disclaimers should ideally be modular so the marketing team can combine them to craft high-quality marketing materials that provide customers with the right information and also satisfy compliance needs. For example, break down disclaimers by product, channels, customer segment, so marketing teams know what they need to include.
Think about brand
Disclaimers need to capture the brand voice and tone. Disclaimers are often the last thing a customer reads when they’re concerned with the quality of your offer. You may also want to consider how you include disclaimers from your partner brands.
Use straightforward language
Avoid complex legal jargon that makes the disclaimer harder to understand. Any language you put in the disclaimer should be as well thought through as the language in the marketing message.
How to make disclaimers perfect every time?
Here are our quick tips on best practice for disclaimers:
Create a disclaimer guide to use within your company with all of the standard disclaimers
Share this guide widely with the content creators and reviewers (i.e. Marketing, Product, Communications, Compliance, Legal)
Automate the review of your disclaimers (automated software such as Red Marker can do this)
We think number 3 is the most important step. Since 50% of legal and compliance checklists are disclaimers, this means that 50% (or more!) of content review time is spent on disclaimers. In trying times, such as our current climate, these resources can be better spent elsewhere. Red Marker’s platform can automate this for you. Contact us now for more information.