How Marketers Can Achieve Trust and Loyalty With a Solid Guarantee
What do Dawn dishwashing liquid, Adrian College in Howell, Mich., and B2B marketer New Pig Corporation have in common? They all have a guarantee — a darn good guarantee.
Not the same one, of course, but one created strategically to support their individual brands and connect with their customers.
Here’s an important question: What’s your guarantee? (In case you didn’t realize it, it’s a critical piece of content.)
Dawn dish soap features a money back guarantee on its website.
H&R Block features a multitude of guarantees.
LL Bean provides an unconditional guarantee that has been a core value for over 50 years.
Road Runner Sports provides customers with a 90-day "ultimate test run" guarantee on its shoes.
Udacity's Nanodegree Plus has the guarantee that if you're not hired within six months of graduating, they'll refund 100 percent of your tuition.
What? You don’t have one? Or even worse, you don’t know if you have one or don’t know what it says? It may be time to rethink how you’re reassuring your website visitors, prospects and paying customers.
In my March/April 2017 Message & Media column, “15 Offer Elements to Test in Your Next Campaign,” I mentioned the important role the guarantee plays in your offer — especially for transforming prospects into buyers:
A strong guarantee is a must for prospecting. It’s reassurance for first-time triers. It can also differentiate you from your competition.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a guarantee is “formal assurance (typically in writing) that certain conditions will be fulfilled, especially that a product will be repaired or replaced if not of a specified quality.” Here’s an example of a classic guarantee:
100% Money-Back Satisfaction Guarantee
Your satisfaction is important. If for any reason you’re not 100% happy with your ___________, let us know. We’ll promptly replace it or refund your payment in full — no questions asked.
But a truly great and effective guarantee often needs to go beyond offering a replacement or refund. A great guarantee can counter potential objections, reduce buyer risk, dissolve disbelief, motivate fence-sitters, reinforce your brand and make your product stand out in a crowd of competitors. In doing so, it instills buyer confidence and trust in your company.
For example, the headline on a recent Wall Street Journal article read, “Colleges Offer a Degree — and a Guarantee.” The article featured schools, such as Adrian College, that pledge to help students repay their loans if graduates earn below a set amount. It turns out around 100 schools — mostly liberal arts colleges — now offer variations of Adrian College’s AdrianPlus guarantee.
The purpose is to reassure comparison-shopping prospects. These are students concerned about whether or not a liberal arts degree will help them land a job that pays enough to repay their student loans. While guarantees differ from school to school, this innovative use of a marketing staple by academic institutions is helping colleges lure students away from competitors and motivate fence-sitters.
Find Your Inspiration
With a 44-year history of leading the fight against greasy dishes, Procter & Gamble is so confident of Dawn’s grease-fighting power, P&G will give you twice your money back if you’re not totally satisfied with the results of using the soap. A guarantee like this instills consumer confidence and separates Dawn from its many competitors — even if Dawn happens to cost more.
And if you thought guarantees were only for those marketing to consumers, think again.
New Pig Corporation’s No Guff Guarantee takes the money-back guarantee to a new level. It promises its industrial customers:
“We stand behind 100% of our products 100% of the time. If you’re not happy for any reason, we’ll refund every single penny of your order, including taxes and shipping both ways. We’ll even schedule return shipping from your location.”
This ironclad guarantee eliminates any financial risk — including two-way shipping costs — and the inconvenience of shipping returns.
Even financial services marketers offer guarantees. Getting life insurance can be daunting, so people procrastinate and put off buying. Consumers get tangled up in worrying about making the “right” decision. New York Life Insurance Company’s Level Benefit Term Life product offers a 30-Day Guarantee to eliminate any fear of buyer’s remorse:
“If you decide the coverage isn’t for you, for any reason, you can return your certificate within 30 days for a refund.”
Poof! No need to worry about changing your mind.
H&R Block understands the value of a guarantee. Whether you file your tax returns with H&R online or in one of its offices, your decision is backed by multiple guarantees, including its Maximum Refund Guarantee.
Never Hide Your Guarantee
If you’re a writer or designer, it’s your job to get the message out. Don’t bury your guarantee in fine print or relegate it to your Web page’s bottom navigation. It belongs in plain sight. Prospective customers shouldn’t have to search for it. Use these tips to help create and communicate your guarantee:
• Keep it simple and straightforward. Use plain English, no legalese. Lands’ End keeps its succinct: “GUARANTEED. PERIOD.”
• Be specific. “Guaranteed to remove stains.” “Guaranteed to last five years — or your money back.”
• Make it front-and-center. Put it right on your product or feature it on a billboard, home page, catalog cover, shopping cart, sales receipt, your building or your restaurant menu. One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating displays its guarantee “Always On Time ... Or You Don’t Pay a Dime!” on every one of its trucks.
• Link to it on product pages.
• Restate it on your order form.
• Devote a Web page to it. Udacity does this with its Nanodegree Plus job guarantee.
• Send an email or postcard dedicated to touting its benefits.
• Draw attention to it with an official-looking certificate border.
• Name it. It adds marketing value and creative oomph. Road Runner Sports calls the Wear ‘Em & Love ‘Em 90-Day Guarantee.
• Brand it with its own logo or icon. There’s no doubt the No Bull Guarantee is from Duluth Trading Co.
Remember, your guarantee is a promise you make to buyers. It shows you value their satisfaction as much — or more — than they do. As a result, it builds confidence, trust and long-term loyalty.