Telemarketing is one of the most effective and proven methods marketers use to contact prospective customers. For the cost of a few additional telephone lines and some extra equipment, small businesses can reach out directly to other companies who may be future clients. However, managers should be aware of all state and federal telemarketing laws and how they apply to business-to-business marketing efforts. These laws can vary by where the calls originate from, by the target market and even by dialing method.
Federal Communications Commission
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission sets and enforces the standards for most types of electronic communications, including television, radio, internet and telephone. For instance, new regulations put in place by the FCC in July 2012 call for small and large businesses that use telemarketing services to get "express written consent” before placing telemarketing calls that employ an automated dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice to a prospect's mobile phone.
Do Not Call Lists
Starting in 2003, the federal Do Not Call Registry allowed residential telephone customers to block unwanted telemarketing calls. More than 51 million consumers added their phone number to the list in the first year. Owner-operators of home-based businesses can also apply to the Do Not Call list, but registry typically disallows businesses outside the home from adding their numbers to the registry. Each state has its own rules for adding businesses to their Do Not Call lists. Violators often face stiff fines and other penalties.
Telephone Consumer Protection Act
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act became law in 1991. Although much of the TCPA concerns how businesses handle telemarketing efforts directed at residents, it also includes some rules for business-to-business telemarketing projects. TCPA contains a prohibition against a company's use of an autodialing system to tie up two or more lines of a business with multiple phone lines. Companies that violate these terms can face civil suits and fines from the FCC.
Telemarketing Sales Rule
The Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act of 1992 outlines several guidelines that businesses must follow when making a telemarketing call. The Act prohibits telemarketing campaigns designed with the intent to defraud or deceive customers. The law requires full disclosure from telemarketers on prices, restrictions and refund policies on anything offered for sale during the call. TCPA also prohibits the use of threatening language, intimidation or profanity from telemarketers.
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- Direct Marketing Association: Telephone Consumer Protection Act
- Legal Information Institute: Telemarketing Sales Rule
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