101_copywritingThere 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 articles . 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.

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