An Irresistible Guarantee: Overcoming Your Prospect’s Final Reservations

The other day, I got a direct-mail piece that was trying to sell software. I was half sold on buying, but I wasn’t quite convinced.

I’ll be honest. I hadn’t read the letter thoroughly. As I often do, I skimmed it first. And in skimming it, I didn’t see a guarantee. On second skim, I missed it again. The third time – on a thorough reading – there it was at the bottom of the last page … in 9-point type … in a footnote.

Reading this company’s guarantee told me one thing: They didn’t want me to see it. They were afraid that if I did, I would be more likely to return the software. And they didn’t want to lose any money.

So, instead, they lost my sale.

What’s wrong with these guys? Don’t they know? Don’t they understand that the guarantee is NOT a promise to return the prospect’s money?

Learn from these marketing numbskulls. If you think your guarantee is a simply promise that you’ll give your prospect back his money, you’re missing the guarantee’s true point … and power.

So why do we offer a guarantee?

Yes, it’s the right thing to do. It’s honorable. It’s fair.

But most important, it can be the final push that cements your sale. I’ve seen this crucial element of a package treated like a forgotten stepchild so many times that it’s obvious many experienced copywriters don’t know the 3-W’s of the guarantee: WHY? … WHAT? … and WHERE?


Why write a guarantee? Because the guarantee is far more than a promise that you’ll return your prospect’s money. It’s one of your last chances to establish credibility and engender a strong sense of trust in her.

By the time the prospect gets to the end of your letter, she’s almost ready to buy (or she would have tossed it). She needs just a bit more convincing. Plus, her fears of being ripped off and ridiculed need to be put to rest. In other words, she needs an irresistible guarantee.

A well-written guarantee makes her think to herself, “Well, if I don’t like the product, I can always get my money back.” This eases some of her fear of being cheated.

But it goes a bit further.

“And,” she continues, “if they didn’t think the product worked, they wouldn’t be offering to give my money back. They must really think it’s good.” At this stage, she has put her fear of being cheated aside. She trusts you. And she now feels that she’s in control – that she can make an intelligent decision to buy.

Finally, she says to herself, “And if my husband gives me any grief about spending $69, I can tell him that I can always get my money back. That should shut him up.” Good-bye doubt and the fear of ridicule and “buyer’s remorse.”


What to write? The guarantee is definitely NOT one of those cases where shorter is better. I’m not telling you to ramble on and on. But do take your time in writing it, so you can truly convince your prospect that you care about his satisfaction … and what he thinks of you. And don’t forget to include reassurances like “no questions asked” or “no hassle” and “you can keep all of the free gifts as our ‘thank you’ for giving us a try.”

Two or three short paragraphs is usually enough.

Avoid writing a guarantee that says something like this: “And if you’re not convinced X-omel is all we say it is, we’ll give back your money.” Does this convince me that you’re an honorable person? No. What it does say to me is that whoever wrote the letter felt he had to stick a guarantee in – so here it is.

Several years ago, I saw a guarantee that was perfect for the promotion, which was selling a financial product. It read: “When I was growing up, a man’s handshake was as good as any piece of paper a lawyer could ever write. I miss those days when a man’s word is his bond. So here’s my ‘handshake.’ Here’s my promise to you that you will …”

The copywriter then gave a brief summary of the product’s core promise and then explained the nature of the guarantee.

This worked, because the promotion spoke about how we currently live in an era of distrust … and the prospect universe was almost entirely men over 55 who remember the good old days of the handshake-promise.


Where do you put the guarantee? Certainly NOT in a footnote. The best place is in your main letter. You can repeat it in the order device, buck slip, or PS. But your letter is where the guarantee has the most immediate impact, strength, and importance.

Of course, it must be said that if you haven’t identified the core complex and written a strong, compelling sales letter, no guarantee – no matter how well-written – will make the sale. But a convincing, irresistible guarantee will increase your credibility … and your sales.

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Published: August 23, 2004

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