Ray worked with B-2-B and Consumer clients throughout the world ... including USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the Middle-East, Central & South America, Africa.

This website is a compilation of Ray's 10 years on the Web.


Power Direct Marketing: The Book

The Guarantee

If you want to be the best, you have to separate yourself from all the talk about quality. And put it in writing.

Lee Iacocca

Every company guarantees their product or services. But we don’t always talk about it. I recommend you talk about it!

In direct response a discussion about your guarantee is almost imperative. It is imperative in mail-order. A guarantee of satisfaction certainly must be hinted in all services that are offered. And a guarantee can certainly be implied as part of your offer even when you’re generating leads, raising funds, or building traffic through your store. Guarantees make people comfortable.

One of the things you don’t want to do is to have your attorney write a guarantee. It needs to be written by the marketing people. Simple. Easy to understand. Short words.

And speaking of short, maybe the best guarantee ever is from Lands End. Here’s a copy of their guarantee:

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Believe it? I sure do! And so do their customers.

The first written guarantee we know about came from Benjamin Franklin:

Those persons who live remote, by sending their orders and money to said B. Franklin, may depend on the same justice as if present.

Benjamin Franklin had a store in Philadelphia. Many of the early settlers struck out across the Appalachians and into the midwest plains. Franklin offered these people a mail-order service. He received their orders and shipped a variety of supplies and products. And he guaranteed his service even to "those persons who live remote."

Xerox finds that selling their fax equipment is as competitive as the copier marketplace. To be set apart from others, Xerox guarantees your fax message will arrive. And backs it with the first and only Fax Transmission Guarantee:

If any fax you send on a new Xerox fax machine doesn’t arrive in its entirety, we’ll send you $5 for each undelivered document. No questions asked.

Here is the Baldwin Cooke Guarantee of Satisfaction or Your Money Back Offer:

If at any time you are not completely satisfied with your purchase, simply return it to Baldwin Cooke for replacement, or full and unconditional refund—including the cost of shipping both ways. Your satisfaction is our sole concern.

Here is a guarantee from a children’s toy manufacturer, Judy Instructo:

Our products are of the finest quality and the highest educational value. GUARANTEED. Return anything purchased from us that proves otherwise. We will replace the merchandise or refund your money as you wish.

Prime Time, a door-to-door airport shuttle service in southern California, offers this guarantee:

We’re on time or you don’t pay.

A strong guarantee in a marketplace with heavy traffic such as greater Los Angeles has.

SGF guarantees your credit card won’t be charged until your order is shipped. A strong guarantee from a mail-order marketer where credit card orders are a major source of their business.

The Company Store tells its mail-order buyers:

If you don’t hear a SMILE over the telephone, you’ve called the wrong number!

They "guarantee" you’ll be happy with everything from The Company Store—including your phone conversation. (To be doubly sure you’re pleased, the telemarketer who took your order includes a signed note with your shipment.)

Another interesting guarantee comes from American Demographics magazine. In a recent circulation mailing, in the P.S. on their sales letter they state their guarantee:

Suppose disenchantment sets in later on? Still no problem. Then you can take us up on our explicit guarantee. Cancel any time, for any reason, and we’ll send you a full refund of your subscription price!

A most powerful and complete guarantee.

Lufthansa German Airlines introduced a guarantee program to their first and business class flyers. If the passengers (or their luggage) miss connecting flights and Lufthansa is at fault, they pay the passengers $200.

Whirlpool offers a one-year product replacement guarantee. If for any reason the customer is not satisfied, they will replace your Whirlpool appliance with a new one.

Both of these corporations are putting their wallet where their mouth is.

Seattle-based Nordstrom Department Stores has a customer satisfaction guarantee that is truly hard to beat. The story goes that a man stormed to the service desk of a Nordstrom’s, steaming mad. He demanded a refund on two automobile tires he claimed were defective.

The store considered his request and on the spot wrote a check for the full value of the tires. The customer left a happy man.

What makes this unusual? Nordstrom doesn’t sell tires! They have no auto department—but this man was an important customer. And since he thought he’d bought the tires at Nordstrom, who were they to argue?

If they’d pointed out they didn’t carry tires, the man would still have been mad—maybe embarrassed. By refunding the money, they keep a good customer happy.

Few of us can be as generous as Nordstrom. But all of us can guarantee our products and our service. All of us can make a "Guarantee of Customer Satisfaction" offer.

Quill, an office and computer supply mail-order house, includes a pre-authorized return form with every guarantee of satisfaction shipment—to make it easy for their customers to return any item for any reason. Spiegel, the major catalog house, offers free pick-up of merchandise customers may wish to return.

The "Lifetime Reconditioning Program" guarantee of Shopsmith states they’ll rebuild or replace their woodworking equipment at one-third or less of the list price at time of repair. A strong "guarantee of satisfaction."

How about this for a guarantee. The initial public offering of common stock from Thermo Cardiosystems is guaranteed to increase in value. Guaranteed! And if it doesn’t? The company will buy it back for whatever the investors paid.

My favorite guarantee, seen in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on the back of a rubbish truck:

Satisfaction guaranteed or
double your garbage back.

Nobody wants their garbage back. But, don’t you think that garbage man is probably the best in all of Sydney? His attitude is: "I’m going to take care of my customers." He has a sense of humor about it and probably has a very large, satisfied customer base.

Another excellent guarantee comes from the mail-order Great Living people. I have in my home PRODIGY, an interactive videotex service. Both in the Great Living catalog as well as on my PC screen this guarantee appears:

SATISFACTION GUARANTEED . . . PERIOD! Our lifetime guarantee means just that! If, for ANY reason, a product you purchase from the Great Living catalog does not live up to your expectations (and it’s strictly your decision!), we’ll promptly replace the item or, if you prefer, issue a refund.

The decade of the 1980s brought us major industry deregulations. First it was airline freight services—soon followed by the passenger side. Next came long-haul trucking. Telecommunications. And finance—particularly affecting the banks.

All of a sudden, true "competition" was exploding in industries which had moved through this century at their own speed. Lots of interesting things happened. (Unfortunately, many firms went out of business because they couldn’t compete under the new rules.)

One of the things that happened in banking was a guarantee of service. The very thought of such a thing prior to deregulation was unthinkable. Guaranteed service. Wow, what a concept! Truly revolutionary.

Wells Fargo Bank started it by offering a 3-Day Service Guarantee to all customers requesting a real estate loan. I don’t know about where you live, but to get a "yes" or "no" answer on a home loan in 3 days was unheard of in California. It was a great offer, backed by a sound guarantee. (The guarantee stated that every day over 3 days it took Wells to get you an answer they’d pay you $25.)

The idea has been picked up by others, all to the benefit of the consumer.

A guarantee is very important in direct response. Offer one.

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