People have lots of choices when it comes to who to buy from these days. There’s never been more competition, particularly with the availability of all sorts of products and services on the internet. Even purchases that at one time could only be made in person can confidently be made online.
So given it’s so easy to buy virtually anything from multiple sources, it has never been more important to help people to buy from you rather than from someone else. It’s no use at all offering great value and service because most businesses offer those, or say they do. And trying to compete on price is a slippery slope because there is always someone who will charge less. There’s usually only one winner of that game and that’s the one with the deepest pockets.
An alternative is to offer a guarantee. Because a guarantee, if it’s written well and truly appeals to the buyer, will take the risk out of making the purchase and compel customers to buy from you and not your competition. That is if it is so good that buyers think “I’ve got nothing to loose” or even better: “I’ve got nothing to loose, and if it doesn’t do what I want it to do, I’ll be better off!”
Most people have bought goods or services that they were told fantastic things about by a salesman and were subsequently disappointed by when they started using it. Once bitten, twice shy, so they are naturally wary of spending money or humiliating themselves by future purchases.
To overcome this reticence, a guarantee has to address the biggest fears and frustrations that customers have in buying from your type of business, and then guaranteeing that they have no need to fear.
To understand how to do that you need to understand that customers are not buying what you sell. Rather they are buying the benefit of owning what you sell. For example, people don’t go to a restaurant just for food, they go for a social occasion and a dining experience. If you can guarantee they’ll get both then you’ll get their attention and you’re in with a chance of competing.
In another example, people don’t go to a hairdresser to get a haircut – they go to look and feel fantastic. So for a customer getting their hair done on a Saturday, the most important thing to them is that they will look fantastic that evening when they go out. And their biggest fear is that it will go horribly wrong and they’ll look a mess.
In this case, the stakes are so high that a guarantee probably won’t be enough. If you are going to compete with their usual hairdresser you are going to have to offer some awesome proof in the way of testimonials or before and after photographs, a mutual “friend” to refer you and an ironclad guarantee.
A guarantee must deal with the customers fears and frustrations. It must also explain the consequences if you don’t deal with those fears as promised. Like the 100% money back guarantee. It should also be impressive, so that it attracts attention, so how about making it a 120% money-back guarantee?
Which raises another point – many businesses fear implementing a guarantee. They think they’ll be faced by customers just trying to rip them off. But the truth is that most guarantees are never taken up. Sure some people may try to rip you off, but you can usually avoid this by asking some direct questions about what they didn’t like about the product.
You could even ask them to complete a questionnaire. Make it in the interests of improving your customer satisfaction and you can still offer a “No questions asked guarantee”. Let them take it home to fill in or complete online. People with a genuine complaint will follow through, but those trying to rip you off are likely to think twice.
Here are a few steps you can take to write your guarantee:
- Start by logging any customer feedback you get – good and bad.
- Ask your customers what they like most about you and your service.
- Ask them why they came to you instead of someone else.
- Ask your customers, “What could we do that would encourage you to recommend us to your friends every time?”
- What frustrated your customers about finding, buying or using the products/services you sell before they found you?
- Look at your current way of working and decide what one or two major customer frustrations you can solve right away.
- Don’t rule anything out. Consider how you could make something work rather than worrying about why it couldn’t work. But if you really can’t deliver on the biggest frustration, then see if you can do something about the next biggest.
- The basic structure of a written guarantee is: “If this doesn’t happen then we’ll do that”. For example: for a beautician: ” If your friends don’t comment on how clear your skin is within four weeks then you’ll get your money back together with a private consultation with a dermatologist”. Or for a builder: “We’ll have your building work completed on time, all loose ends tied up and snagging sorted, or we’ll pay for you to stay in a hotel until it is.” How much work would that get you?
Once you’ve got your guarantee written, use it in all your marketing materials, from you business card and compliment slip to your website and sales brochures to your quotations and invoices.