Has this ever happened when you were thinking about making a purchase through direct mail?

You’re on the verge of buying, but you aren’t quite convinced. You need something to give you that final push to spend your money.

What’s holding you back? Maybe you’re concerned that the product isn’t exactly what you want. Or that it won’t work like you think it will. Or that the color won’t be what you’re expecting.

So you hunt for reassurance in the form of a guarantee. But you can’t find it. You keep searching until you finally spot it … in tiny, 8-point type … in a footnote.

When I have trouble finding the guarantee, I won’t buy. When a guarantee is hidden, it tells me one thing: They don’t want me to see it. They don’t want to lose money on a return.

Instead, they lose my sale.

What’s wrong with these guys? Don’t they understand that a guarantee is NOT simply a promise to return the customer’s money? These marketing numbskulls are missing the guarantee’s true power.

You offer a guarantee because it’s the right thing to do. It’s honorable. It’s fair. But most important, it can be the final push that cements your sale. Your guarantee is one more chance to enhance your credibility and establish trust.

By the time you’re ready to ask for the sale at the end of your sales letter, your prospect is almost persuaded to give you his money. But he needs a bit more convincing. His fears of being ripped off and/or ridiculed for making the purchase need to be put to rest. In other words, he needs an irresistible guarantee.

An irresistible guarantee lets the prospect think, “If I don’t like it, I can always get my money back.” This eases some of his fears.

But he needs more assurance.

The guarantee should also make him think, “If they didn’t think the product worked, they wouldn’t be offering my money back. They really must think it’s good.” At this stage, your prospect has put aside all of his fears. He now feels that he’s in control. And you have strengthened his trust in your company/product.

Finally, the guarantee should make him say to himself, “And if my wife gives me any grief about spending $229 on this reel, I can reassure her that if it isn’t perfect, I get my money back.”

Goodbye ridicule, doubt, and regrets.

Composing a guarantee is definitely NOT a case of shorter is better. Don’t ramble, but take your time so you can truly convince your prospect that you care about his satisfaction … and what he thinks of you. Two or three short paragraphs are usually enough.

Avoid guarantees that say something like: “And if you’re not convinced X-omel is all we say it is, we’ll give back your money.” How does this convince me that you’re an honorable person? What it says to me is that whoever wrote the sales letter felt he had to stick in a guarantee … so here it is.

Several years ago, I wrote a guarantee that was perfect for that particular promotion (for a financial product):

“When I was growing up, a man’s handshake was as good as any piece of paper a lawyer could ever write. I miss those days when a man’s word was his bond. So here’s my ‘handshake.’ Here’s my promise to you that you will …”

Then followed a brief summary of the product’s core promise and an exposition of the terms of the guarantee.

This guarantee worked because our prospect universe consisted of men over 55 who remembered the good old days of the handshake-promise.

In structuring your guarantee, don’t forget to include reassurances like “no questions asked” or “no hassle” and “you can keep all of the free gifts … our thank you for giving us a try.”

I have to say that no guarantee – no matter how well written – will make the sale if the rest of the sales letter is weak. But a convincing, irresistible guarantee will increase your credibility … and your sales.

“Do not trust all men, but trust men of worth; the former course is silly, the latter a mark of prudence.”– Democritus

[Ed. Note: Will Newman, a regular contributor to ETR, is the editor of AWAI’s The Golden Thread online newsletter. Learn how to subscribe to it – and how to discover AWAI’s proven marketing secrets – here: The Golden Thread.]