Use an ‘Astonishing Guarantee’ to Sway Hesitant Prospects

Last week, Fire Enterprises, Inc. (FEI) marketing whiz Marka showed savvy salesperson Zoot how A/B testing with different outbound marketing channels can help determine which channel is the most effective. This week, Marka explains to Zoot how offering an “astonishing guarantee” can help FEI lure in hesitant prospects. Remember, fire = print.

One morning, Marka walked into Zoot’s office and found him banging his head on his oak desk.

“You OK, Zooty?” Marka asked.

“Been better,” Zoot said. “I’ve got plenty of hot prospects on the line, but I can’t reel any in!”

Marka thought it was weird to make a fishing metaphor now that Lake Olympus had iced over for the winter, but she decided not to mention it. “Why not?” she asked.

“Beats me,” Zoot said. “I tell them how FEI offers a quality product, good service and fair prices. What else could they possibly want?”

“Those things are expected of any business, Zoot,” Marka pointed out. “We won’t get the attention of these prospects unless we offer something unique and truly compelling. Let me tell you about an idea I had—the FEI Astonishing Guarantee.”

Zoot rubbed his chin with curiosity. “Tell me more.”

“This is a guarantee we’ll offer first-time customers that will make them stop and say, ‘I have to take advantage of this.’”

“You mean like offering a big discount?” Zoot asked warily.

“No,” Marka said. “The Astonishing Guarantee is, in part, a show of tremendous faith in our products and services. Much of the time, discounting conveys the opposite. Let me give you a couple of examples:”

[Marka started writing on the whiteboard that hung in Zoot’s office.]

Two Examples of Astonishing Guarantees:

  • “Your Flamethrowers delivered by a certain date…or they’re free.”
    • Customers’ flame-thrower materials must be on our production floor by a certain time, and not a minute later.
    • FEI will attach big, colorful slips to jobs like these for production department to see—GUARANTEED JOB: CAN’T BE LATE.—and send out a guarantee certificate with each completed order.
  • “For retail stores: If you can find a XY-model torch sold directly to a customer, we’ll pay you $1 million Drachmas.
    • Many of FEI’s retail clients are skittish because they’ve been burned—no pun intended—by previous fire vendors selling directly to their customers. This guarantee acknowledges this issue and gives prospective retail clients peace-of-mind that we won’t do the same.

“A successful Astonishing Guarantee builds off something a business does well, which in FEI’s case is offering reliability and quality fire products,” Marka explained. “And it should be something completely within our control. The secret of the Astonishing Guarantee is to never award it.”

T.J. Tedesco is a sales growth, business strategy, marketing and PR consultant operating at the intersection of clear vision, compelling content and effective outreach practices. For nearly two decades, T.J. has been an independent consultant and sales growth team leader. Previously, he sold commercial printing, graphic arts machinery and supplies, and finishing and bindery services. T.J. helps North American companies with content development, Web and print design leadership, nurture marketing programs, sales coaching, sales team alignment and business strategy. Since 1996, T.J. has worked with more than 100 clients on retainer, 80 percent in the graphic arts industry. T.J. is author of "Win Top-of-Mind Positioning," "Playbook for Selling Success in the Graphic Arts Industry," "Fire! How Marketing Got Hot," "Direct Mail Pal" and four more books published by PIA. He can be reached at (301) 404-2244 or
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