How to Avoid Skinny, Weak Guarantees

Welcome back. If you were with us last week, you’ll remember we talked about a word bandied around in daily life so much it’s lost just about all meaning.

But in copywriting, this word – and all it carries with it – can mean the difference between the success and failure of your promotion.

I’m talking about the guarantee.

Now, a strong guarantee can’t salvage a poorly written promotion. (The prospect would never get that far.) But, a poor guarantee can scuttle a strong one.

Last week we chatted about why you need a strong guarantee. (Click here if you missed it.) Today, we’ll look at the “what” and “where” of a successful guarantee.

WHAT: Leave all doubts behind

The guarantee is definitely NOT one of those cases where shorter is better. Of course, you don’t want to ramble. But, you do want to take as much time as you need to make your prospect feel comfortable.

Take enough space so you can convince your prospect you do care about his satisfaction. Two or three short paragraphs are usually enough.

Avoid token guarantees that say: “And, if you’re not convinced X-omel is all we say it is, we’ll give back your money.”

How does this convince your prospect you’re an honorable person? What it really says is whoever wrote the letter felt he had to stick a guarantee in – so, here it is.

Several years ago, I wrote a guarantee that worked well for the promotion. “When I was growing up, a man’s handshake was as good as any piece of paper a lawyer could write. I miss those days when a man’s word is his bond. So, here’s my ‘handshake.’ Here’s my promise that you will …”

I then gave a brief summary of the product’s core promise and explained the terms of the guarantee.

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

Silence the ticking clock

If your client will allow, make the guarantee as strong and as long as possible. If you offer a 30-day guarantee, your prospect’s clock starts ticking immediately. He’s wary. Uneasy. “Return” sits in the forefront of his mind every time he uses your product.

But, switch to a 60-day, 90-day, or lifetime guarantee, and the clock stops. The prospect enjoys the product without worrying about returning it. Plus, he feels you must really believe in the product to offer such a generous guarantee.

My mentor 20 years ago told me with longer guarantees, your buyer forgets about the time. That’s cynical. For me, the longer guarantee lets the buyer really experience the benefits, become truly convinced she made a good decision.

Testing bears this out. The more liberal the terms (for good products), the fewer returns.

Oh yes, don’t forget to include reassurances like “no questions asked,” or “no hassle,” and “you keep all of the free gifts … our thank you giving us a try.” These reassurances build more trust. They begin solidifying the longer term relationship between buyer and seller.

WHERE: Show you’re proud of your guarantee

You don’t want to hide your guarantee. The best places for it are in your main letter or the P.S. You should repeat it elsewhere, like the order device or a buck slip. But, your letter or the P.S. are where the guarantee has the most immediate impact, strength, and importance.

If you put it in the main letter, its logical place is near the end of the letter – the close – shortly after you’ve given the price. The guarantee here blunts the impact of seeing the price. It reduces concerns and reduces buyer remorse.

But, why the P.S.? Why wait so long?

Well, if your prospect has gotten near the end of the letter, she’s going to keep reading. She might even be expecting a guarantee and keeps reading, looking for it.

But, if your prospect is a copy scanner, one of the first things he’ll see, even before he reads your great copy, is the P.S. with the guarantee. Without really knowing much about the promise or the benefits, he knows he’s protected.

Now, 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, cement your prospect’s trust, and increase your sales.

Come back next week when Sandy Franks tells you about a unique copy technique that gives you the freedom to make up words. I won't spoil it here by giving away the details, but I think you'll want what she has in store.

Until then, keep writing!

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The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: March 7, 2016

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