Rebate Laws, Microsoft Retail Stores, More on AstroTurf Marketing and Responding to Online Postings

Highlighted Marketing Stories:

Rebaters Face More Laws, Enforcement (DM News) – This is relatively short story but it does contain valuable legal information concerning rebates. In particular, its coverage of how price should be advertised is important for any marketer considering rebate promotions.

Laws in various states dictate how rebates can be advertised. For example, some states prohibit advertising a post-rebate price unless the price paid at the register is clearly disclosed. Even in states where such a disclosure isn’t specifically mandated, the disclosure is arguably necessary to comply with advertising laws.

Is it really deceptive for advertisements to highlight a product’s after-rebate price rather than what the customer will actually pay when they do purchase the product?

Microsoft to Open Stores in Arizona, California (USA Today) – Microsoft’s move into retail seems to be low-key but one suspects this is just the start of a bigger push.

Last week, a document surfaced online showing concept sketches for a Microsoft store where people can order personalized laptops, take classes and get help from experts. Microsoft said the sketches were early ideas and that the company hasn’t finalized its designs.

Is Microsoft taking a page out of Apple’s playbook when it comes to retail outlets?

Whose 5 Stars? Online “User” Reviews Get Scrutiny (USA Today) – This is another story related to the “Astroturfing” or “AstroTurf Marketing” practice we posted a few days ago. As a technique for spreading information via word-of-mouth methods (such as postings to websites) this practice is bound to raise more interest over the next few months.

The FTC has said since 1980 that consumer endorsements must be honest opinions from actual customers, or clearly marked otherwise, and payments or other arrangements that would affect the testimonial’s credibility must be disclosed.

Is it believable that such a large percentage of Americans (reported in the story as 84%) are influenced by online evaluations posted by others?

Managing an Online Reputation (New York Times) – And while we are on the topic of online postings, this is an informative story on what to do if people are talking about you online. As we have discussed, this is really part of the new tasks of PR people though those without PR help will also like what is discussed here. Curiously, this story also mentions the “84%” figure we talked about in the story above.

But managing your online reputation requires a whole new skill set, including monitoring the online conversation and engaging with customers and the tech-savvy to promote yourself in the best channels.

After posting a reply should a marketer/business owner continue to respond to those who post follow-up comments or just let the initial response speak for itself?