Do You REALLY Need a Guarantee?

I review quite a few AWAI assignments. And one area that’s frequently weak – or absent – is the guarantee.

Many beginning copywriters do not understand the potential power of a well-written guarantee … that the reasons for including one are far more complex than simply offering the prospect his money back.

The most obvious reason to include a guarantee is to overcome sales resistance or buyer’s remorse. During much of the sales letter, you’ve done your best to spotlight benefits and keep the focus off the product. But by the time you’ve gotten to the end – and particularly after you’ve given information about price – there’s no doubt you’re selling a product. And up pops your prospect’s sale’s resistance.

So a guarantee gives him a sense of security. He figures he has nothing to lose if he takes your offer, because he can get his money back. "After all," the prospect tells himself, "they wouldn’t be offering to give my money back if they didn’t know this really works."

But your guarantee has far more power than that. For one thing, it is about the only place in your letter where you can directly address the issue of trust. You never want to simply say, "Trust me" anyplace in your letter – even in your guarantee. But your guarantee can come pretty close.

Here’s an example from a financial newsletter promotion based on fear and distrust, especially distrust of the government:

"There was a time when a man’s word was his bond. When all that was necessary to seal a deal was a handshake. I miss those days and I bet you do too.

"So I want to give you my ‘handshake’ on this deal. If you are not completely satisfied with … (and so on)."

This guarantee does not use the deadly words "trust me." Instead, it instills trust by forming a bond with the prospect, harkening back to the commonly shared "old times" when people trusted each other.

"I can believe them," the prospect thinks.

A strong guarantee also provides your prospect with an easy way to justify the purchase to other people as well as himself.

"You spent WHAT?" the wife asks. "Yes, dear," the husband replies. "But you don’t have to worry. If it doesn’t work, we get our money back. All of it!"

And, finally, your guarantee can dispel leftover doubts or fears your prospect may have. Let’s say you’re selling a water filter but did not have a good place in your letter to talk about the fact that it makes water taste better:

"I’m convinced you will love your new Wondra-Filter … that you’ll find drinking water a pleasure once again. I am so sure every glass you drink will be crystalline clear … free from odors … and so close to tasting like spring water … that I’m offering you … (and so on)."

What sort of tone should you adopt? A good guarantee leaves no doubt that you are serious about treating the prospect honestly. Consequently, you do not want your guarantee to shout like a Crazy Harry Auto Trader TV commercial.

The close of your letter – where you will most likely have the full guarantee – often has a more up-tempo pace than the rest of it. The guarantee, then, is a good place to bring it back down. A good tone to adopt is one that makes the prospect feel you are sitting down with him, speaking intimately and forthrightly.

How long should a good guarantee be? As long as it needs to be to accomplish these four things: 1) overcome buyer’s remorse or sales resistance, 2) establish trust, 3) justify the purchase in the prospect’s mind, and 4) deal with any "loose" doubts and fears.

If you’re selling a well known, established product with a solid reputation, you do not have to write as much as you do if you and your product are not well known. But don’t force yourself to mechanically fill a predetermined amount of space. A sincere guarantee – no matter how long it is – is always more effective.

The guarantee can be a lot of fun to write. Take your time. Think about what you want to say. Then write from the heart.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: January 31, 2005

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