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Your biggest marketing challenge is giving potential customers a reason to buy from you. But even more important than creating a point of difference that gives you a competitive edge, is removing obstacles that frighten prospective customers off.

People who haven’t done business with you before, don’t know you. So they don’t trust you. Buying from you represents a risk that your product or service is not as good as it appeared to be. It could mean that customers make the wrong decision, lose money, don’t get what they paid for, or are just not satisfied. By removing these risks, you are able to secure many more sales. And you do this by offering a guarantee.

A guarantee removes the risk that customers might not be satisfied with their purchases, after they have paid for them. The potential business benefits are enormous but many small-business owners are reluctant to guarantee their offerings. They are scared that they will not be able to withstand a rush of customers calling up their guarantees.

The reality is that less than 2% of guarantees are ever called up. People are basically honest and will not ask for their money back if the product in question satisfied their need for it. Furthermore, if you have been in business for a while, you probably offer an unspoken guarantee, anyway. If a customer is not happy with something you supplied, you will do what you have to do to remedy the situation. If you want to stay in business, that is.

So make a big deal about your willingness to help by announcing a strong guarantee. It will help you get new business and it will sharpen your focus on offering high quality. Your relationships with customers will improve and you will get more referrals.

Unfortunately, the term "guarantee" has been bandied about so much that it has lost a lot of its meaning. Guarantees that are very general like "Your satisfaction is guaranteed" are weak and have become almost invisible to prospective customers. So you have to work hard on creating a guarantee that people can’t ignore.

How do you create a strong guarantee? The first thing to do is to focus on the reason why customers buy your product or service. Then frame up a guarantee so that your customers are assured that they will get the key benefit they want. A guarantee like this reinforces the customer’s decision to buy from you.

Be specific about the payback. A hassle-free money back offer is a good start but look for variations on this. A specific payback gives your guarantee credibility and shows that you are prepared to "walk the talk".

If possible, guarantee the element of your performance that delivers the key benefit. Domino’s Pizza did all these things exceptionally well when they built their guarantee into a Unique Selling Proposition that is focused on quick delivery.

"Fresh, hot pizza, delivered to your door in 30 minutes or it’s free"

Domino’s figured that the key benefit customers are looking for is quick delivery of a convenient family meal. So they promise delivery in 30 minutes – a measure of their performance that ensures delivery of the key benefit. By adding "or it’s free" turns this slogan into a guarantee with a specific and attractive payback.

In just 5 years, Dominos Pizza went from being number 18 in the Detroit area to number 2 WORLDWIDE! You can also achieve stunning success by using a guarantee like this to make prospective customers feel more comfortable about doing business with you.

This Marketing article was written by Ron Evans on 2/11/2005