Direct Marketing Article
Overcoming Buyer Resistance
By Bob Bly
We all know that a strong money-back guarantee is a powerful weapon for
overcoming buyer resistance and boosting your sales.
But you can run into problems when your guarantee has flaws.
The best guarantees are: Fair, Generous, Long-term, Unconditional.
When any of these four elements is missing, sales are likely to suffer as a
result. For example, many of my clients are newsletter and magazine
publishers. A number of these publishers offer lifetime guarantees. They
permit the subscriber to cancel at any time and receive a prorated refund on
"un-mailed issues." But if you offer both a bill-me option as well as
payment with order - as I often come across -- such a lifetime guarantee
actually gives the customer an incentive NOT to pay up front.
Think about it.
Say the customer checks the "bill-me" option for a monthly magazine, gets
his first issue, and then writes "cancel" on his invoice. The publisher
doesn't send him a bill for one issue, nor does the publisher ask for the
magazine back. So the customer gets a free issue. But if the customer pays
in advance, then cancels after the first issue, he gets a refund for 11/12th
of the subscription price (the 11 un-mailed issues) and therefore ends up
paying for the issue received. Why should the bill-me customer get a free
issue, but not the payment-with-order customer? It isn't fair and doesn't
make sense, considering a cash-with-order customer is more desirable than a
Solution: Offer a full money back guarantee within the first 30 days, then a
prorated refund thereafter.
Another frequent guarantee problem is wording that says you will get your
money back "if you return the product in saleable condition." Well, the
customer doesn't have any control over the UPS man who brings the box to
your door. Your guarantee implies that if the product is damaged in transit
on its way from the customer to you, the buyer doesn't get a refund. That
would make me hesitate to order from you. I was in a video game store where
a clerk refused to refund a woman's money because she was returning a game
her son had gotten as a gift one day after the 30-day guarantee period
expired. I interfered, and explained to the clerk what he was doing wrong.
The woman got her money back, and I got a dirty look from the clerk.
Remember, you benefit enormously from offering a guarantee, because it gets
more people to trust you and buy from you. But the customer benefits too: He
gets a chance to try the product risk-free.
Most people won't take unfair advantage of your guarantee. If you sell a
quality product, accurately described in your marketing, at a price that's
fair in relationship to its value, your return rate will be low - probably
less than 5 percent.
That still means as many as one of 20 or so will ask for a refund. Give them
back their money promptly and with good cheer. Few things will cause more
customer dissatisfaction and ruin your reputation faster than being
difficult, adversarial, and uncooperative when people believe what you said
in your guarantee and take you up on it. Don't get angry with these folks.
Returning the product is their right - and part of your cost of doing
About the Author:
Bob Bly is an independent copywriter and consultant with more than 25 years
of experience in business-to-business, high-tech, industrial, and direct
marketing. He has written copy for over 100 clients including Network
Solutions, ITT Fluid Technology, Medical Economics, Intuit, Business & Legal
Reports, and Brooklyn Union Gas...and has won numerous industry awards. Bob
is the author of more than 70 books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to
Direct Marketing (Alpha Books) and The Copywriter’s Handbook (Henry Holt &
Co.). Visit: www.BobBlyMarketingBooks.com