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One More Tactic For Increasing Your Customer Base on a Budget

Aug 17, 2007
Small business owners often struggle to grow their customer base. They're caught between the time and expense involved in traditional advertising, and limited marketing budgets. However, there are four extremely powerful and practically free marketing tools that we all have at our disposal, but we often over look.

Three easy techniques that can be used for growing small businesses on a budget include:
1. giving something away for free
2. creating a surefire referral system
3. taking advantage of customer testimonials

But there is another free tactic for increasing your customer base and growing your small business that often goes overlooked:

Give An Iron-Clad Guarantee

If you're like a lot of small business owners, you've been afraid to offer a money back guarantee. Well, I have two pieces of good news and one piece of bad news. First, the good news:
1. Guarantees have been proven, time and time again, to increase sales. Guarantees remove risk and make it painless for customers to buy from you.
2. Less than 2% of customers will ever take up your guarantee. And since the guarantee is sure to increase your sales by more than 2%, you're money ahead.

Now the bad news. If you're afraid of giving a guarantee because you're worried you'll lose money, it's time to rethink the business you're in. If you're not entirely 100% convinced that what you're offering your customers is absolutely the best value out there, then you shouldn't be offering it. If you're afraid you'll lose money because you get a lot of complaints about a particular product or service, then it's time to concentrate your energy on repairing that portion of your business or removing that item from your product mix.

OK, let's say you're giddy with glee over the value you offer, but you're still afraid to give a guarantee. I'm going to go out on a limb here, but I'll bet you already do offer a guarantee and you're just not capitalizing on it. Let me explain...

Suppose one of your customers called to complain about a product or service he purchased from you. You would make it right, wouldn't you? You would repair or replace the product or rework the service in whatever manner necessary. Well, that's a Satisfaction Guarantee. And as long as you offer it, you might as well get some traction by advertising it.

A satisfaction guarantee is all fine and good, but it's very commonplace. Let's see what we can do to make your guarantee even more compelling.
1. Use your guarantee to highlight your strengths. What is that you're absolutely great at? What do you want to be known for? What is the biggest benefit you provide your clients? Now take that and turn it into a guarantee statement.

"Guaranteed to answer the phone in three rings or less, or your oil change is on us."

2. Explain what "satisfaction" means by describing specific results.

"We guarantee you'll lose 10 pounds in seven days just by taking one tiny pill, or we'll buy the bottle back."

3. Make it zany to make it memorable. Remember, your guarantee is going to become a strong marketing statement, and you want to make sure your customers notice it.

"Your fresh cooked meal delivered to your table is 17 minutes or less... or Chef Paul will bring you a free dessert dressed in a gorilla suit."

For your guarantee to be effective it must be specific and it must describe an outcome. Remember, less than 2% of your customers will ever take you up on your guarantee. And, since your guarantee is really meant as a message to attract the 98% of those customers who won't take you up on it, you want it to be unique and powerful.

When crafting your guarantee, don't think of what you stand to lose with the 2%. Turn your mind toward the 98%. How can you grab their attention? What would really dissolve all their buying resistance? What would make them say, "Wow! I want to do business there!"?

Make your guarantee compelling by wording it in a lively and exciting way. Some phrases to consider are:
* Rock Solid
* Now Way You Can Lose
* I Personally Guarantee
* Triple Your Money Back
* Refund 10 Times The Purchase Price
* A to Z Guarantee
* Unconditional
* Take It To The Bank

Here are a few real-life workhorse guarantees to get your creative juices flowing:

"If you find a qualifying lower rate for travel booked with Travelocity within 24 hours of booking, we'll not only refund you the difference between what you paid and this lower price, but give you $50 off a purchase of future travel."

"Use the American Express Card online or off, and you won't be held responsible for any fraudulent charges. Period.
No fine print, no deductible --just pure protection, so you can shop with confidence."

"And here it is: Order my 'Magic Marketing Research And Resource Guide' Read through all the information that's packed inside -- not once, but as many times as you need to. Make some notes along the way and then start developing a strategy for yourself, prioritizing which information is most relevant to helping you accomplish the things you need to.
Take up to THREE 6 FULL MONTHS to do this. If, at any point during that time, you do NOT feel the information you received was worth your investment, then box it up and ship it back to me, and I will immediately give you a 100% prompt and courteous refund. No hard feelings and no questions asked.
Because the truth is, if you're not thrilled with your order, I'm not either."

"This Isn't Some Ordinary Satisfaction Guarantee. I'll Guarantee PROFITS.
First is our usual, uniform 60-DAY UNCONDITIONAL SATISFACTION GUARANTEE. It appears with the Order Form at the end of this catalog. But beyond that, I'll add 10 more months, for a total of 12 FULL MONTHS, conditional - and here's the only condition: if, at the end of a full year from your purchase, you want a refund, just show me proof that you did something, anything, used one System or strategy, and look me in the eye (on paper) and tell me that you didn't put tens of thousands of dollars in the bank that you wouldn't have otherwise, and I'll refund every penny you paid. I guarantee you make at least $10,000.00 by using this Kit - or your money back."

Oh, here's one more interesting note that flies in the face of conventional wisdom. The longer the guarantee, the fewer the refund requests. Yes, you read that correctly. A six-month guarantee will generate fewer refund requests than a 30-day guarantee. And a lifetime guarantee will generate fewer requests than a six-month guarantee. You're probably thinking that it sounds contradictory, but it's a proven fact.

Once you have your new and improved guarantee developed, it's time to start using it. Flaunt it everywhere you possibly can. Use it in all of your ads. Add it to your signature file in your email. Have a huge poster made up for your lobby area. I guarantee you will start seeing more sales.
About the Author
Karen Scharf helps entrepreneurs and small business owners attract and retain more clients. Karen offers several coaching programs and a Marketing Makeover to turn your current, ineffective advertising into a new and improved system. She also accepts full service marketing assignments. Check out her FREE reports at http://www.ModernImage.com.
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