This Article Rocks… I Guarantee It!

Copywriting 101

There you have it. You just can’t go wrong reading this article.

I’ve guaranteed your satisfaction. Those are powerful words, right?

But what does my guarantee really mean? What if you think this article is actually marginal at best? There’s no money to return. And I can’t give you back your valuable time if you feel it was wasted.

Boy… I’d better make this good.

No Power Without Proof

Advertisements that proclaim “satisfaction guaranteed” are fairly common – and that’s the problem. The statement can come across as just another hollow promise, because it often is.

Every promise you make to a prospect should be both fulfilled and guaranteed. When you sell something in exchange for someone’s hard-earned money, the promise is that the product or service will meet, or exceed, expectations. The guarantee means you will give the money back if the buyer feels that’s not actually the case.

The word guarantee is extremely powerful, but only coupled with evidence of substance. The proof behind the guarantee accomplishes two things – it demonstrates confidence in your offering, and relieves the risk to the buyer.

Confidence and Risk

Every contemplated purchase carries risk to the buyer. Before consumer protection laws, the rule was caveat emptor (let the buyer beware), and these days buyers are still cautious, even leery – especially of unknown vendors. Even when already emotionally and logically committed to what you have to offer, buyers don’t want to make a mistake. It’s up to you to help them get over the hump.

The way to get past the buyer’s uncertainty is to first demonstrate confidence in your offering. Not through boasts or sales prattle, but with a good-old-fashioned, no-questions-asked, “money-where-my-mouth-is” cash-back guarantee.

Return periods of 30, 60 or 90 days work great. Some direct marketers go as far as 6 months, a year, or even a lifetime money back guarantee. The longer the better.

Other techniques involve a “return premium.” The seller allows you to keep all or part of the materials delivered even after the refund, or promises to pay you double your money back (or some other multiple).

Now that’s confidence. And it speaks directly to the buyer’s lingering reservations.

You’ve now created a risk-free buying environment. Your conversion of prospects to customers / clients will skyrocket compared to the same offer sans guarantee.

Guaranteed Higher Profits

“Whoa there, Brian,” many of you are saying. “I can’t do that kind of thing. It’s way too risky for me.”

My first response might be to ask you how much faith you have in your offering. If your faith is lacking, improve your product or service. As we’ve seen with Domino’s Pizza and Federal Express, the guarantee was the key that made the offers irresistible.

But you’ve spotted the essence of the technique – you’re taking the buyer’s risk and shifting it over to yourself. Assuming the faith in your offering is there, here’s why you shouldn’t be concerned:

  • First of all, you will get some returns, no matter how much value you deliver. The reason is that your guarantee will generate a much higher number of sales. By taking the risk away from the buyer, invariably you’ll sell to someone who the product wasn’t suited for. That’s OK; the numbers are working for you.
  • Your returns will be lower than you think, even among those who experience buyer’s remorse. We like to remain consistent on a psychological basis, and our brains work hard to validate our earlier decisions. Couple that with the ambivalence people experience when faced with initiating the return process (especially for physical products), and the sale remains in place.
  • When it comes to information products, some people will rip you off. They’ll happily consume the knowledge you offer, and still demand a refund. If your product is digital, some will share your hard work with other people, and you won’t make a dime. Don’t worry about it. Believe it or not, most people are honest. Don’t lose sleep over those that are not. Your sales (and profits) are up, perhaps dramatically, because of your guarantee. That was the goal, right?

We’ll explore other methods to keep customers happy and minimize returns in future Copyblogger articles (subscribe here for updates). But the general rule is to always make a strong, substantive guarantee that actually transfers the reader’s risk back over to you.

The headline of this article violates the rule. Hopefully, you don’t feel like I’ve wasted your time.

Go back to the Copywriting 101 series.

Subscribe to Copyblogger to learn how to apply these basic principles to your online marketing efforts.

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Comments

  1. Good stuff. Abraham inspired?

  2. Jay Abraham, Dan Kennedy… but it’s really direct response gospel at this point. I couldn’t even choose a single person to attribute to. Claude Hopkins? : )

  3. LOL… I guess you made your point with the lack of readership on this one. You only have a couple comments… Makes total sense.

    It’s like what Claude Hopkins talks about in Scientific Advertising and Sclitz beer.

  4. Brian,
    I wanna thank you for those articles. They really made me learn. Now not only I can offer a new service to my clients, but I feel more confident when writting anything from business emails to offers!

  5. Excellent post. I’ve seen marketers overclaim things when they shouldn’t be. If they really were going to stand behind their site article or blog post, perhaps they wouldn’t make such ridiculous claims. Such claims ring shallow and ridiculous, and potential customers know this, and cringe. However, if one really has something to offer, as you say, they will have no problem standing behind it. Excellent points!

    krissy knox
    http://www.twitter.com/iamkrissy

  6. I even smell a little Dan Gilbert here. Great advice, though I’d like to suggest using this method after all the others are exhausted.

    Sure, when you have a great product, why not be confident and show it? Like you said, it is unlikely that you will suffer significantly from it, since returns will be canceled out by more orders coming in.

    The big but is also in this article: These claims get bandied around everywhere. Not a week goes by where I don’t land on some fishy “this is the secret to the universe”-type PDF site. They are masters at guaranteeing anything and everything, even though it’s highly unlikely that any of them honour that claim after the payment has been processed. So for anybody trying to market a PDF, these kinds of claims can actually hurt the performance.

    It really is the same with credentials – you can only ever make them so specific, but more often than not, people will still assume they are fake, because they are fake almost everywhere else.

    Outlandish claims may get attention, but with careful customers too great a confidence may actually be counterproductive.

  7. Interesting article, I just wanted to point out a small spelling mistake, in case you are interested in such minor details:

    “First of all, you will get some returns, not matter how much value you deliver. The reason is that your guarantee will generate a much higher number of sales.”
    Should be “no matter”..

  8. Thanks Jonathan! Fixed. :)

  9. I think you held you held up your Guarantee with this post.

    Thanks, Great Tips

    Question: What are one or two things in Business that, from your experience, you should put a guaranteed?

  10. The concept of the customer guarantee clearly works, and taps into a fundamental human need for security. This article cleverly promises the reader that his or her investment (time) will pay off, as a preamble to explaining the value of confidently offering satisfaction or your money back in other contexts.

    Good copy is a funny combination of promising an interesting read, and then promising customer satisfaction with the product or service under discussion. Two guarantees, really.

    Writing (in exchange for reading) is a contract with very tenuous terms for the writer. “The Reader, at any time, for any reason, has the right to stop reading the Work of the Writer.” Well, I admit that I didn’t read every word, but I stuck around long enough to see what the article was about. And the initial guarantee, and its cleverness, played a role in making that happen. We live in a world of itchy button fingers, with massive web and media content singing a Siren song “Click the next site, click the next item, click the next post.” If a written guarantee can delay that bounce, it’s golden!

  11. I’m dying to write a new post after reading your series! I just can’t stop reading your blog….love it! Thank you.
    x Marnie