Be an Ethical Entrepreneur, Marketer, and Business Builder

Instantly Beef-up your Marketing Response AND Sales Conversion with a Rock-Solid Guarantee

Your typical “100% Satisfaction Guaranteed” is now roughly translated as, “blah, blah, blah.” We’ve seen it so many times that our eyes glide past these types of Guarantees without a second thought. It’s trite and meaningless for everyone except for the guy looking to take advantage of you. But there’s a better way…

So if “100% Satisfaction Guaranteed” is a weak guarantee, here are a few great guarantees I’ve come across:

We so firmly believe we can help you make a difference in your business that if we
cannot increase your gross profit by $1000 a month we will either refund your investment
back to you OR we will work with you at NO cost to you until your gross profit increases by
$1000 a month.” – Automotive Management Solutions

Lifetime Free Replacement Of Any Broken ASEPCO Tank Valve

– No Matter Who Broke It!

Top-Quality Product, or It’s Free!

Performance as Promised, or We Pay You!”

Asepco’s Unique Tank Valve Guarantee

If you want to get real creative, check out this guarantee that not only guarantees performance, it pays the consumer to report their results so the business can then use that “testimonial” in further marketing:

If you beat the best ad you’ve ever written, I’ll send you a $100 check and a congratulations letter.

If you can’t beat your best ad, I’ll send you a $100 check and an apology, plus a full refund of your $500 purchase price.” – Perry Marshall’s Marketing Swiss Army Knife

This last one is too long to copy onto my blog, but take a minute to read Reliance Home Comfort’s Guarantee.

So what do these guarantee’s do that our more anemic guarantee’s do not?

They improve  your marketing response and sales conversion, by doing 3 things:

  1. They are specific – One of the main powers of a guarantee is that people actually read them. So use that opportunity to guarantee the benefit/performance of your product or service. While your prospect is reading your list of guaranteed benefits, you are also conditioning them to experience those benefits. The placebo affect is alive and well. I’m not suggesting you should guarantee something “made-up”, I’m just using the placebo affect as an example of how a great guarantee can condition your customers to look for, appreciate, and tell their friends about all of the great benefits you have provided for them.
  2. They guarantee Benefits – In other words, your guarantee should include the advantages of your product or service to the consumer. All of the examples above guarantee the RESULT of using that company’s product or service. Don’t worry if your competitor’s product can offer the same results… Unless they guarantee it, you’ll be out-selling them in no time.
  3. “Risk-Free” – A great guarantee will help get the customer off the fence and prevent any buyer’s remorse. Why? Because if you don’t deliver on your written, specific, benefits-driven guarantee the customer should be able to get a replacement or refund.

After all that, there is one thing that all of these guarantee’s are screwing up.

Instead of writing a Guarantee, you should write a Promise. As you know I’m a big fan of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) so I’m not one to discount the power of a single word… And I must say, there is a massive difference in Guarantee vs. Promise.

Businesses offer Guarantees. Which means they are third-party, impersonal, and “profit-driven” because that’s how we naturally see a business.

In contrast, a Promise is highly and totally personal

You “Promise” yourself you will DO IT … whatever IT means.
You “Promise” your kid you will get him that baseball mitt.
You “Promise” your Mom you will be safe.

In other words, you, as the owner or leader in your business, are making a personal Promise to your customer that you will do what you say.

Can you feel how powerful that difference can be? I can sense the tingle in my spine as I extend my hand and look my valued customer squarely in the eyes to make this promise.

As I mentioned in my blog on Conversational Marketing, this personal touch is a HUGE advantage that we as small business owners can offer that major corporations can not. It may even be THE most powerful reason consumers choose small business so don’t ever waste your time doing marketing just to appear like your corporate competitor.

Think I’m getting too touchy, feely with this stuff?

Check out the book Emotion Marketing by Claire Brand. It’s backed up by decades of research done by some of the most respected national brands with the most loyal customers. One of these brands is Hallmark who has built the largest loyalty program in the world with over 12 million active members.

Hallmark determined that of all the ways you can measure customer loyalty, the best way to determine if your customer will be loyal is by how much they feel you care for them. Caring was twice as likely to predict future customer loyalty than any other factor they could measure.

If an organization with 5,000 locations in the US can make 12 million people feel that they care, isn’t it about time your small business focuses on doing the same thing.

To start showing that you care, write your Promise, today.

To your promised success, Bryan

P.S. As I was eating my yogurt this morning, I came across a personal Promise from Activa. “Love how you feel or your money back.” How’s that for promising a result?

How to fix your business FAST – Part 4 – Improve Marketing and Sales

For most businesses I’ve encountered, the greatest improvement in marketing would simply be to start tracking your ROI. In other words, you need to know your cost/lead and cost/sale for each marketing project. I address this concept in detail in my blog on Scientific Advertising.  Keep in mind that simply asking your customers “how did you hear about us?” can be somewhat futile (though it’s better than nothing). Michael Corbett suggests simply watching your sales to see if they go up with your current marketing or stay flat. To me that seems like a rather unscientific approach since that doesn’t tell you which marketing produced the results and there are  more factors than marketing alone that can affect sales.

There are a handful of marketing books in my Recommended Reading section, in addition to My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins, so I’m not going to directly address the difference between good and bad marketing. After all, no one knows exactly what will generate the best response until it’s tested and measured.

That being said, here are a few marketing pointers in addition to knowing your numbers:

  1. Have a Unique Selling Proposition that sets you apart from all of your competitors. In other words, create a niche only you can fill.
  2. Know and understand your target audience. You can have the best offer, and the best advertisement in the world, but if it’s directed to the wrong audience you’ll get zero results. Spend the most marketing time on getting your message to the right people!
  3. Keep a detailed customer database so you can cross-market constantly. If someone has bought from you once before, they are MUCH more likely to buy from you again. If you don’t have a database (or your not using the one you have) change that immediately!
  4. Offer a guarantee. If your products are either more expensive than most, or can’t be touched by the consumer prior to purchasing (such as with internet sales) you MUST have an iron-clad guarantee to assuage their fears. This must demonstrate that you’re the best and the customer has nothing to risk.

Since we’re looking for quick fixes, I’m going to stop the list there. If you do those things, you’ll notice results almost instantly.

On the sales side, you need to again, learn your numbers. Am I getting that point across fully yet? 🙂 Whether you realize it or not, in your sales cycle, there are many steps. Let’s take a retail clothing store for example. What are the steps a shopper takes?

  1. Window browsing – How do we get them to actually walk into the store? A lot of retailers put up blinds behind the window manequins so people have to actually walk in to see what else is available.
  2. Entering the store – How do we get them to spend time looking around? Depending on your clientelle, music can make a huge difference as to whether they hang around a while or not.
  3. Perusing certain racks or aisles – How do we get them to see the most we have to offer? Most retail stores put the clearance and discounted rack at the back so you have to walk all the way through to find the great deals.
  4. Trying clothes on – How do we get them to go to the dressing room? Keep in mind, people can only try on or buy as much as they can physically carry. Make it easy for customers to carry more with helpful sales associates and people will buy more. Paco Underhill addresses this in magnificent detail in Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping.
  5. Buying – How do we get them to come back? Are we getting their name and email address for our database?

So why do we break that up into so many steps? Because if you don’t, you have no idea which steps you need to improve. I’ve heard of a retail store that learned that around 80% of people who try something on will buy it. So they didn’t work on directing people to the cash register, they worked on getting potential customers to the changing rooms.

Every business has a series of steps in their sales cycle. You need to learn and track each of those steps for your business and then systematically improve the conversion rate for each one.

That was  a retail environment, so let’s consider a service based business. What possible steps do we have for them?

  1. Inquiry – via phone, web, or walk-in
  2. Service Pitch/Presentation – Are you skipping this step? If people call your plumbing business and ask what it costs to unclog a toilet, do you just tell them or do you first tell them why you are their best option with your guaranteed time, flat-rate billing, and professional staff?
  3. Price Quote/Estimate – Are you building value along with this quote (particularly if it’s in writing) to back up your pricing?
  4. Commitment to Purchase – If the commitment isn’t made immediately are you leaving them PLENTY of information to convince them you’re their best option? My business has a 24 page “leave-behind” packet for just such instances.
  5. Delivery of Service – Are you delivering exactly what you said? Particularly if you only get paid once your service is complete.
  6. Payment – Do you have simple payment options and are you asking for payment immediately upon completion so as not to tie up your office staff trying to collect money?
  7. Follow-up – Did you get their name, phone, address, and email for your database? Did you call or visit them again after completion to make sure they were completely satisfied? Did you ask for testimonials or referrals?

As you can see, there are a lot of steps in this process as well and at any step along the way you can lose potential clients. That’s obviously why tracking the number of customers who make it to each step is so important!

A couple of things you can do to help improve each step in the process:

  1. Have excellent training for each person involved in sales including detailed scripts, role-playing, and NLP training.
  2. Incentivize and develop some competition. People like to know someone else notices that they are the best at what they’re doing.
  3. Have an outside company shop your business and report back what they find.
  4. Record phone calls, conversations, and customer interactions (after checking with your lawyer of course) to look for opportunities for improvement.
  5. Provide on-hold and/or in-store marketing over the speaker system. I know the “blue-light” specials weren’t enough to save Kmart, but I’m not claiming that’s all you need to do for your business either. 😉
  6. Create your story portraying your commitment to customer service, quality, community involvement, and excellence. Make it available in your store, restaurant, business, and on your website. People love buying from places where they feel a part of something.
  7. Include testimonials everywhere! Put them in your store, on your website, in your marketing, on your thank you cards… heck, you can even put them on your receipts.

In my experience with over 100 small businesses, I don’t know of anyone, myself included, who is doing all of these things well. In my defense, I do know what I have to do and one-by-one I’m crossing them off of my list.

We’re on Part 4 right now so you should have quite a long To-Do list written down, right? If not, go get a piece of paper and a pen, review my last 4 blogs and start writing. After I post my last blog on this topice (Part 5) you’ll now have a complete list that you can prioritize and start addressing.

To your sales and marketing success, Bryan