When you run a small business, you know that you need to keep reaching out to your customers (and potential customers) if you want to stay afloat. Sometimes all it takes is reminding them that you’re there — maybe with a special offer to bring them in. Telemarketing sounds like a great idea, and you’ve heard that lists of numbers are readily available for sale.
So what’s the problem? Well, telemarketing can get you into big trouble if you violate the federal or state “do not call” laws.
Who can you actually call? Generally speaking, you can reach out to:
- Customers with whom you have already established a business relationship (up to 18 months following their last purchase, payment or delivery)
- Customers who have signed up to receive notices or calls on an in-store list
- Potential customers who filled out a form at a trade show asking for more information
- Potential customers who have submitted a request for more information through your online form
- Anybody else who has consented to contact (and not withdrawn that consent)
You cannot, however, continue to market your products or services by phone to any number where the owner has requested that you no longer call them — regardless of any previous business relationship you may have had. It’s also important to remember that you generally only have three months to contact someone who has requested information at a trade show, online or elsewhere. (That request is not an open-ended invitation.)
Using a purchased call list of numbers can be legally dangerous because of these restrictions, and Ohio tends to take a very dim view of unwanted calls. The smartest way to avoid business litigation is to understand the sort of activities that lead that way — and that means knowing your liabilities every step of the way.