Trust and credibility are your golden tickets to a successful business. One of the key ways to boost your credibility is to offer rock solid guarantees of your product or service.
Trying anything new triggers an anxiety response in humans. Our brains are hard-wired to be cautious, which worked well for our caveman ancestors when trying new berries, but can become a problem when you want someone to buy your goods or services.
People are worried about being ripped
By offering a guarantee you reassure potential buyers that you stand behind your product, and you reduce their resistance to buying your goods or services.
A guarantee is your promise or commitment to deliver. The stronger your demonstrated commitment, the better the result. This is one of the areas we focus on with our copywriting clients to help them refine their guarantees.
Mandatory Legal Guarantees
Under Australian Consumer law, people have a number of automatic rights when they buy a product or service. No amount of fancy words or disclaimers can wipe these rights away.
Here’s a summary of current consumer guarantee rights from the ACCC
Products must be of acceptable quality, that is:
- safe, lasting, with no faults
- look acceptable
- do all the things someone would normally expect them to do.
Acceptable quality takes into account what would normally be expected for the type of product and cost.
Products must also:
- match descriptions made by the salesperson, on packaging and labels, and in promotions or advertising
- match any demonstration model or sample you asked for
- be fit for the purpose the business told you it would be fit for and for any purpose that you made known to the business before purchasing
- come with full title and ownership
- not carry any hidden debts or extra charges
- come with undisturbed possession, so no one has a right to take the goods away or prevent you from using them
- meet any extra promises made about performance, condition and quality, such as lifetime guarantees and money back offers
- have spare parts and repair facilities available for a reasonable time after purchase unless you were told otherwise.
- be provided with acceptable care and skill or technical knowledge and taking all necessary steps to avoid loss and damage
- be fit for the purpose or give the results that you and the business had agreed to
- be delivered within a reasonable time when there is no agreed end date.
Consumer guarantees on products and services also apply to:
- bundled products and services
- gifts with proof of purchase
- sale items
- online products and services bought from Australian businesses
- second-hand products from businesses, taking into account age and condition.
Consumer guarantees do not apply if you:
- got what you asked for but simply changed your mind, found it cheaper somewhere else, decided you did not like the purchase or had no use for it
- misused a product in any way that caused the problem
- knew of or were made aware of the faults before you bought the product
- asked for a service to be done in a certain way against the advice of the business or were unclear about what you wanted
As you can see, these are comprehensive. There is no wiggle room on any of these!
Other Guarantee Types
In addition to the legal minimums, all businesses can offer voluntary guarantees in addition to those required by law. These guarantees are only limited by your creativity and willingness to stand behind your product or service. Remember, they have the legal force of the mandatory guarantees, so only promise what you can deliver.
- Money back guarantees – This is most common type of guarantee, where you refund the purchase price for whatever reason. (e.g. 100% money back guarantee)
- Time guarantees – Where you guarantee a person to be on time or for a job to be completed within certain timeframes. (e.g., We guarantee to be there when we say we will, or you get $20 off your booking).
- Satisfaction guarantee – Where you guarantee people will be happy with your product or service. (e.g. Love your new hair colour, or we will recolour it for free).
- Results guarantee – Where you guarantee a particular result will be obtained from using your product or service. (e.g. Lose 6kg in 6 weeks. Guaranteed!)
- Product guarantee – Where you guarantee the particular qualities of a product (e.g.: The product will never go hard in the tube)
- Price guarantee – Where you guarantee a particular price point (e.g., If you find a lower advertised price within 30 days of your purchase, we will happily Payback 120% of the difference.)
- Service guarantees – Where you guarantee a particular standard of service. (e.g. We guarantee 99.97% uptime)
Top 10 Tips for Writing Powerful Guarantees
The Longer, The Better!
The longer the guarantee term, the less likely it is that someone will return it. If you only give a 30-day guarantee you place urgency on the customer to use it/test it and then get back to you if they are unhappy – you which means that you trigger increased returns.
You also may fall foul of consumer warranty law which ignores arbitrary time limits for reasonable time limits depending on the nature of the goods or services.
By extending the guarantee period, you will surprisingly reduce your return rate. The longer the guarantee = the stronger the guarantee.
Go Beyond The Norm For Your Industry
Remember when cars used to have a 12-month warranty and then one car manufacturer suddenly offered a 3-year warranty, and now 7-year warranties are becoming the norm? What happened to their sales? Go beyond the norm in your industry for your guarantee and test the results.
Give 100% Back
If you are giving a guarantee, then give every cent back to the consumer. Don’t hold back handling fees, postage fees or other fees and charges. Give the lot back! You will end up with happier customers and less returns.
Remove The Fine Print
Many businesses tout 100% money back guarantees. Then hidden in the fine print there are hidden notice terms, obscure forms to complete and essays to write on why you deserve a refund (I am looking at you PostPlanner!)
If you offer conditional guarantees, you will create massive bad blood with your customers, who will happily take to social media and forums to bag out your company.
Take out all the hoops and fine print. It is the transparency that makes the difference.
Take Out The Hype
In the past few years, some people have been offering “triple your money back”, “$100 for your trouble” type of guarantees.
People see them for the hype they are and steer away from them – particularly in the Australian culture. If your product is as good as you say it is, a straight money back guarantee is enough.
Offer Guarantees That Make You Cringe
The best guarantees make you feel a slight cringe in your stomach as a business owner. You may feel worried there will be hordes of people lining up to get their money back.
The truth is you will get a few returns, but the good will you will generate is priceless. If your guarantee doesn’t make you slightly cringe with fear, then you need to stretch it.
Focus On The Positives
Write your guarantee in a positive way “if you are not overjoyed with our XYZ product for any reason simply return it for a full refund”. Rather than, “Unhappy with our product? Return it for a refund.”
If you get a refund request, then you need to action it within 24 hours. The longer you delay, the unhappier the person will become and the greater the problem you are creating for your business.
Don’t Take It Personally
Treat all refund requests as merely feedback that you need to listen to rather than a personal attack. Treat the person making the request as a valued client rather than a problem. By not taking it personally you can build relations rather than break them down.
Honour Your Commitments
With all guarantees, you need to honour their terms and conditions. By stating a guarantee, you have created a contract with the person, and you will be up for penalties if you don’t honour your commitments.
Where Should You Display Your Guarantee?
With copywriting, you always lead with your strongest hook. If your guarantee is something out of the ordinary, then lead with it in your headline or your company tagline.
It is not a world-beater, but still pretty darn good, then you could include it on your homepage, footer, sidebar, sales page or as a PS in your letters.
If it is more run of the mill, then include it on your sales page heading towards the “buy now” request.
Remember, your clients and customers already have legal rights. Your job is to reinforce these rights, and then stand behind your products and services with stronger guarantees. By putting your money where your mouth is, you demonstrate you are operating an ethical business that people can trust.