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Direct Response Marketing

Changes to FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule Take Effect

2 Sep, 2009 Response This Week

WASHINGTON – On Sept. 1, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) extended the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) to include a prohibition of pre-recorded commercial telemarketing calls to consumers – commonly known as “robocalls” – within the “Do Not Call” list covering consumers. Basically, the law made it illegal to place automated, recorded calls to consumers for the purposes of selling a product or service without consumers’ express written consent,

The amendment to the TSR includes penalties of up to $16,000 for marketers who violate the rule. The written consent concept applies only to machine-automated dialing. For live operator outbound calls, it remains the consumer’s job to request placement on the do not call list.

Businesses may still place automated calls to people that opt in for service related purposes such as appointment reminders, flight information and delivery notifications. And certain organizations, such as politicians, charities, banks, insurers, phone companies, surveys and healthcare messages, are exempt from the ruling for certain types of campaigns.

Response spoke exclusively with Irv Shapiro, CEO of Ifbyphone Inc., who said that direct response marketers can learn to work around the restrictions. “Over the past two years, our customers have used our automated outbound IVR systems to transmit millions of calls,” said Shapiro. “The majority of these calls fall within the current FTC guides. In fact, we have found those that do not fall within the current guidelines do not work. To be more specific, purchasing random telephone numbers and then calling them with an offer does not work.”

Some of Shapiro’s tips for businesses include:

-Build a good Web site with valuable information about your product or service

-Use pay-per-click and/or search engine optimization to drive traffic to your Web site

-Provide an option on the Web site that reads, “Would you like us to call you with additional information?”

-Offer customers a free wake-up call service and provide periodic new information during these calls

-Purchase toll-free numbers and promote these trackable numbers on your Web site

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