Photo by Anujatilj on Pixabay

Why Outrageous Product Guarantees Are Not As Risky As They Appear (And They Help Make More Sales)

How many kids do you know that don’t like cotton candy? Not many I’m guessing. It’s probably possible to count them on one hand. My kids love the sugary treat. But they didn’t always feel that way.

My daughter was three and my son was two when we first gave them the chance to sample the pink and blue confection. My daughter dove into the sticky bag with both hands. But my son — he wanted nothing to do with it.

When my wife offered him a piece of the fluff, he turned up his nose and very stubbornly refused to give it a try. Even with his sister ravenously consuming copious amounts, he wouldn’t.

It was a solid “no” from him

It took my son several minutes of closely watching the three of us enjoy the cotton candy before he would even take the tiniest sample in his hand. Slowly he put it to his mouth, barely getting a taste. But it was enough. It wasn’t long before cotton candy was all over him and the sugar rush was in full effect. He had discovered that his fears for the strange food were completely unjustified.

Our fears of having a product guarantee that is too bold are unjustified as well. We fear that if we promise too much, we’ll be taken advantage of. So we play it safe. Our product guarantee becomes generic and forgettable. Potential customers don’t see any reason to try our product. They should. A bold, even outrageous, guarantee can be another sales tactic to use. This may sound risky, but it’s a safer bet than it appears to be. In this article we’ll discuss why by covering how an outrageous guarantee is:

  1. A form of risk reversal
  2. Memorable
  3. A demonstration of belief

Let’s get started by looking at how an outrageous product guarantee reverses risk.

Every transaction involves risk

Certainly we can agree on that. Every opt-in, sale, and transaction involves risk. Who’s taking the risk? Both parties involved are. The more important question to ask is who is risking more? Is it the buyer or the seller. Very seldom is the risk shared 50/50 between buyer and seller. Besides, even in that situation, the buyer may still not see the benefit of the purchase out-weighing the risk they are taking. As a result, they don’t make the purchase. To overcome this, the seller needs to take the majority of the risk.

Usual, common place guarantees are ones that we see every day. They often go something like “satisfaction guaranteed” or “thirty day money back guarantee”. Not only are they vague, they are also not very convincing for the person making the purchase. The potential customer still has doubts. They may feel that if they are unsatisfied with their purchase, proving this to the seller is likely to be challenging and frustrating. They could also feel that thirty days is not enough time to determine if they are happy with their purchase.

To the seller, these common guarantees appear sufficient

But to the potential customer, they’re not enough. They still question making the purchase. They’re not convinced they want to take on the risk that’s required of them. And so, they either stall the purchase or move on to another seller. Either way, for the time being, the sale is lost.

An outrageous guarantee transfers the risk

The risk involved in the transaction moves from the buyer to the seller. Now, there is very minimal risk to the buyer. There is no reason for them to doubt making the purchase. They can have confidence that if they’re not happy with their purchase, the outrageous guarantee being given will more than make up for their unsatisfactory experience. To the potential customer, the seller’s offer becomes too good to pass on.

Venture a guess on what happens next?

If you guessed that the customer reaches for their credit card, you’re right. The seller has taken on the majority of the risk in the transaction, and the buyer is happy to make the purchase. But hold on — what if the potential customer is still undecided? What if they still need to think about it? This isn’t a problem. It’s addressed by our next point. Let’s move on to it — how an outrageous guarantee is memorable.

Photo by Antonino Visalli on Unsplash

Which memories are seared in your mind?

Are they memories of everyday events? Or are most of the memories in your mind of extraordinary experiences in your past? Of course, most of our memories are the unusual events that happened to us. Everyday events are a dime a dozen and the memory of them is erased every night while we sleep. If the guarantee you offer for your product is uninspired and not memorable, your potential customer will forget it by tomorrow. As business owners, we want our products to be at the front of a person’s mind as soon as they have a problem we can solve. An outrageous guarantee helps us be there.

An outrageous guarantee isn’t quick to be forgotten

To be memorable, it needs to be different than the guarantee our competition is giving. How can we do this? There are two ways — by making our guarantee bigger and more extreme than anyone else, and by giving it a name. Why not create a guarantee that makes a potential customer feel silly if they turn down your offer? Money-back guarantees or free replacements won’t do this. Aim for a guarantee that makes you, as the business owner, feel uncomfortable. If you do become nervous to offer such a guarantee, then you know it will catch a potential customer’s attention. Once you’ve decided on the outrageous guarantee you’ll offer, give it a name.

Giving your guarantee a name gives it a personality

It’s like your guarantee takes on a persona itself. Be creative and maybe even a little shocking when naming your guarantee. You want people to remember it. Here are some examples — if you guarantee your product for life, how about a name like “The Take-It-To-Your-Grave Guarantee”. Here’s another — if your guarantee promises the buyer 250% of their money back, then a name such as “The Broke-Business-Owner Guarantee” may work. Finally, maybe as part of your guarantee you’ll accept all returns, no matter their condition, even if they are shredded. A name like “The Lawn Mower Guarantee” would be perfect.

The “Lawn Mower Guarantee” actually belongs to my friend, Sean D’Souza. You can read more about it on his website (https://www.psychotactics.com/elements-of-risk/). These are just examples. Your only limit is your imagination. Having an outrageous guarantee that both reverses risk and is memorable leads us to the final point in this article: the demonstration of your belief in your product.

Nothing shows our belief like an outrageous guarantee

If a potential customer sees how confidently a business stands behind their product, their trust level goes way up. They see how the business is willing to risk much, possibly even failure, because of their solid, unwavering confidence in their product. This will have an impact on a potential customer who is weighing their options. Think about it from this perspective — one business has a 100% money-back guarantee. Another business has a 250% money-back guarantee.

How does this sit in the potential customer’s mind?

They’ll be is disbelief at first. A 250% money-back guarantee sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? But give them some time and after much thought, they’ll conclude that they have little to lose. The potential customer will see that trying the product from the business with an outrageous guarantee is worth the risk. And so, that business gets the sale. As a result, the business with the mediocre guarantee, doesn’t get the sale. The outrageous guarantee is doing exactly what it’s supposed to — drive more sales.

Are you starting to feel uncomfortable?

Perhaps you’re wondering — if you did have an outrageous guarantee for your product, and you had many new customers purchase your product, is it possible that things could go south really quickly? What if a large number of customers take advantage of your outrageous guarantee? This sounds like a bad scenario, doesn’t it? The truth is this — yes, there will be more people taking advantage of your guarantee. That is reality. In theory though, the increase in sales will make up for the increase in refunds. Unless, of course, if the product you are selling previously had a high refund rate. Then we have a problem.

Your products quality needs to match your guarantee

The biggest mistake that we can make is to have an outrageous guarantee for either an unproven product or a product with a high refund rate. These are recipes for disaster. A product with a poor or unproven track record could result in many refunds. The purpose of the outrageous guarantee is to demonstrate the consistency and trustworthiness of a product. If a product is new, or has a history of customers requesting refunds, then an outrageous guarantee is a bad match for it. Before even thinking about implementing such a guarantee, make sure that the product is worthy of it.

In summary, put your guarantee to work for you

An outrageous guarantee can be another weapon in your sales arsenal. Just as good copy, referrals, and smart marketing can bring in more sales, an outrageous guarantee will help the undecided buyer make a decision in your favour. In this article we discussed how an outrageous guarantee is:

  1. A form of risk reversal
  2. Memorable
  3. A demonstration of belief

My son’s love for cotton candy has never swayed since the first day he tried it. Cotton candy has become a must have every time we visit a fair or amusement park, as I’m sure it is for many of you with children. However, if he’d never gotten over his unjustified fear of the treat, he wouldn’t be enjoying it today. Outrageous guarantees don’t warrant the fear that many business owners have of them. If we can stand behind our product, then an outrageous guarantee can provide a welcome sales boost.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. If you found it helpful, please share it to your social media. For your next marketing related article to read, I’d recommend “Why Website SEO Has Gone The Way Of Flagpole Sitting”. In it we discuss how and why website SEO doesn’t work as well as it did in the past.

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Steve Kehler

Steve Kehler

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Sharing my experience in marketing. To a 2nd grader, a 4th grader is a genius.