Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Satisfaction guaranteed

How do you write an effective guarantee? Keep it simple.

A straightforward promise of unconditional satisfaction is most effective. It diffuses buying objections to increase profits. It can mean the difference between gaining a first-time buyer who becomes a loyal customer…or not.

A risk-free promise of complete satisfaction entices fence-sitters to jump off the fence and comparison-shoppers to choose you over your competitors. It’s a key element of your overall offer--what you’re willing to give in exchange for response.

If you don’t have a guarantee, you should. And if you have a guarantee but don’t promote it, shame on you. There are few things worse than making a prospective customer search for your guarantee. This is someone who WANTS to spend money with you but needs reassurance. Your guarantee should be easy to find--on your website, in your store, or in a direct mail piece.

Aaron Montgomery Ward, THE mail order pioneer, recognized the power of the guarantee in 1875 when he introduced his company’s policy of "satisfaction guaranteed or your money back." It was his way of reassuring rural customers accustomed to shopping in dry goods stores--not by mail--they could trust his catalog as a reputable source of quality products. With a solid guarantee aimed at diffusing doubters, he built a mail order business that sold everything from clothing to barbed wire, saddles and even steam engines. The Amazon of its time.

In the following 143 years, the guarantee has become a problem-solving staple of marketers across channels—print, broadcast and digital.

Diffuse objections. Here’s a guarantee that resolves one of the biggest concerns of homeowners involved in painting projects. It addresses the “BUT-what-if-I-really-don’t-like-the-color-once-it’s-on-all-four-walls?” objection. Valspar Paint understands this concern and also knows their product is a commodity marketed by many. That’s why they offer The Perfect Color Guarantee and promote it on their website: "If your first color isn't just right, have another free." My only complaint is that while the promise is strong, the 1,047 words of disclaimer copy found on a separate web page is NOT simple nor straightforward. Yuck.

Stand apart. How many plumbers are there in your city and how much time have you wasted waiting for one of them to show up? What if a plumber promised to be on time or he would pay you for your time lost? Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, The Punctual Plumber does just that. Their guarantee sets them apart: “If there’s any delay, it’s you we pay.® If we’re not on time, we pay you $5.00 per each minute late up to $300.00.” What reinforces the attention-grabbing value of this guarantee is its specificity. And no surprise, it’s even featured on the back of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing trucks.

Be succinct. Valspar's disclaimer copy is proof why you don’t want a lawyer to write your guarantee or other marketing copy. The best guarantees are short, to the point, without asterisks or legalese. When it comes to the shortest, most unconditional guarantee on record, Lands’ End wins hands down. “Guaranteed. Period.® “ To prove they mean what they say, their website shares stories like this one:

“As you'd expect, over the years our guarantee has been put to the test. We've been given countless opportunities to demonstrate our commitment to customer satisfaction and our willingness to stand behind the products we sell -though none more demonstrative than the return and refund of an original London taxi. Featured on the cover of our 1984 holiday catalog, the taxi was purchased for $19,000 by a Kansas native as a gift for her husband (an avid car collector). In 2005, her husband contacted Lands' End and expressed interest in returning the car for a full refund. Of course, we obliged - because whether your purchase includes a tote or a taxi, your satisfaction is Guaranteed. Period.®”

Intangible reassurance. If you’re an insurance marketer, you may think guarantees don’t apply to selling intangibles. Think again. A guarantee answers the question, “What if I change my mind?” And if you’re making a significant purchase such as life insurance, you may need or want to change your mind. The question is, can you. Some life insurance companies offer a 30-day “free look” that guarantees you can return your policy/certificate for a full refund of premiums paid within 30 days. While this may (or may not) be required by state insurance commissions, it addresses an important buying objection.

Add value. This guarantee adds value by addressing the concern, “What if I don’t get the results I need?” Green Training USA, a provider of training programs for contractor certification, offers a 100% Success Guarantee. “Our students count on over a 90% first time pass rate for certification exams, but should you not pass for whatever reason, you have unlimited access to all of your online training course and supplementary materials with no additional charge for as long as you require it. You also get continued email and phone support access to our staff and instructors.” It's a guarantee potentially worth hundreds of dollars to the student.

Be bold. Think ink-on-paper planners and organizers are dead? Take a look at this no-risk guarantee made by the Planner Pad® Organizer. "We are so certain that the Planner Pad organizer will help you get more organized that we offer this no-risk guarantee! Try the Planner Pad organizer for the first time for up to six months. If you feel it has not given you an extra hour a day you can call your own... if it has not helped you become more productive in your job or personal life ... then send it right back to us for a full product refund!"

So, what’s your guarantee? Don’t be shy about telling tire-kickers and comparison-shoppers you stand behind what you sell and value your customers’ satisfaction.


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