"Guarantees" and "offers" in selling copywriting services?

32 replies
As copywriters, we know that a rock-solid guarantee is a great way to gain buyer trust and resolve objections. And an irresistible offer is the best way to get prospects to "act now" rather than later.

...But I've seen few copywriter sites that make any sort of guarantee to clients. Few even promise to work with a client until they're completely satisfied!

...And other than the "I only have a few slots open, so act fast" statements, most copywriter pitches don't include much of an offer either.

The lack of guarantees is understandable, I guess. Clients don't want you to work with them until they're "satisfied." As amateurs, they're buying your expertise in pursuit of profit.

... And since there are so many moving parts to a copywriting campaign (message, list, timing, product, client meddling, etc., etc.), it's probably foolhardy to guarantee profit.

Still, it's interesting that so few copywriter pitches out there include any sort of an "offer" at all. Have you guys noticed the same thing? Why aren't copywriters more creative with this kind of stuff?

Do any of you pitch with a guarantee or an "offer" (other than a straightforward offer of your services)? Have you run across many copywriters that do?

Just thought this was interesting, since for most other products and services, two of the most important elements of the sales message are the offer and the guarantee.
#copywriting #guarantees #offers #selling #services
  • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
    I don't make guarantees to my clients. I can't predict what the market responds to. ..I can only make a well-educated speculation based on past experiences. So no, I won't promise them results when those results are based on a lot of factors out of my control.

    I do make special offers, but typically only for existing clients.
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    • Profile picture of the author Cam Connor
      I take the opposite guarantee approach. Guarantee them that if they have bad Copy, they don't have a chance of succeeding in a competitive marketplace. It's true anyway...

      And then guarantee them that you'll do everything in your power to stack the odds as heavily in their favor as humanly possible... but it's not all about the Copy, it's really impossible to make a guarantee, because you can't rely on their traffic/product/CRO etc to be good.
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      • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
        Most highly paid professionals do not guarantee results or performance. Look at ballplayers, attorneys, doctors, opera stars...

        Marcia Yudkin
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        • Profile picture of the author splitTest
          Originally Posted by marciayudkin View Post

          Most highly paid professionals do not guarantee results or performance. Look at ballplayers, attorneys, doctors, opera stars...

          Marcia Yudkin
          Actually, lawyers selling their services on tv often include a "guarantee" that you pay nothing unless they win the case.

          The other pros you mentioned rarely engage in direct marketing. A few doctors (dentists, plastic surgeons, etc.) do, but of course they don't offer guarantees.

          They do however construct "offers" to compel conversions in direct marketing. There's the ubiquitous "free consultation." There's "phone now for a free report." There's "low interest financing."

          Mechanics will offer a free checkup. Vets sometimes too.

          I've seen a few copywriters guarantee to beat the control or you don't pay, but I think they were noobs. Sometimes you'll see them offer a free review of existing copy, but that's pretty much it in the way of "offers" and guarantees.

          I read somewhere that customers don't order products and services, they respond to "offers," so I would figure there'd be more offers in copywriters' pitches. Maybe it's just too cheesy?...
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          • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
            Actually, lawyers selling their services on tv often include a "guarantee" that you pay nothing unless they win the case.
            That is not what most people consider to be a guarantee - it's a contingent fee and from what I have heard, lawyers are allowed to offer that only in certain kinds of cases, not across the board. It's regulated by the bar associations.

            Likewise doctors are not normally allowed to guarantee performance.

            But the best analogy is probably baseball players. Even the ones making millions do not have guarantees in their contracts. Teams and players know there are too many variables involved and no one hits, wins or scores all the time. Likewise, even the best copywriters have projects that "lose" or "strike out."

            Marcia Yudkin
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            • Profile picture of the author splitTest
              Originally Posted by marciayudkin View Post

              That is not what most people consider to be a guarantee - it's a contingent fee and from what I have heard, lawyers are allowed to offer that only in certain kinds of cases, not across the board. It's regulated by the bar associations.

              Likewise doctors are not normally allowed to guarantee performance.

              But the best analogy is probably baseball players. Even the ones making millions do not have guarantees in their contracts. Teams and players know there are too many variables involved and no one hits, wins or scores all the time. Likewise, even the best copywriters have projects that "lose" or "strike out."

              Marcia Yudkin
              Not to stray too off topic, but...

              Baseball's actually not analogous because we're talking about the value of guarantees in direct marketing messages for various professions as compared to copywriting. Baseball players don't do direct marketing.

              Law is analogous because they do direct marketing. Speaking of which: The lawyer guarantee (even if you call it a "contingent fee") serves the same purpose in their direct marketing message as the guarantee in any direct marketing -- "if it doesn't work out, you lose nothing."
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    • Profile picture of the author Taniwha
      Originally Posted by angiecolee View Post

      I don't make guarantees to my clients. I can't predict what the market responds to. ..I can only make a well-educated speculation based on past experiences. So no, I won't promise them results when those results are based on a lot of factors out of my control.

      I do make special offers, but typically only for existing clients.
      Is it possible to turn that into something?

      For example, "I can't guarantee ______ because ALL FACTORS HERE, but what I can guarantee is ________ (some outcome or benefit which will happen; or if not they will get their money back)".

      Which creates a damaging admission, improves trust, and cuts down some skepticism.
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      • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
        Originally Posted by Taniwha View Post

        Is it possible to turn that into something?

        For example, "I can't guarantee ______ because ALL FACTORS HERE, but what I can guarantee is ________ (some outcome or benefit which will happen; or if not they will get their money back)".

        Which creates a damaging admission, improves trust, and cuts down some skepticism.
        There's absolutely no guarantee I could make that would be truthful with the way my business is currently structured. The client is paying for my expertise, and the results are based on factors that are beyond my control and factors that can and often do change.

        The client's site could get Bitch slapped pretty hard if they hitch their star tothe wrong SEO when Google decides to tweak their secret sauce.

        The new product I launch today could be outdated inside a month, the way tech is advancing.

        Tech changes. People change. Trends come and go.

        I don't know if the letter we're working on today is touching on a flash in the pan or building something that's here to stay.

        All I can do is research it, test it, and make the best offer the client will let me get away with.
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  • Profile picture of the author Don Grace
    This is little different than a guarantee but I once did a "Put up or shut up" test. I wrote a letter free of charge for a very prominent "make money online" company. Turned into a 30k gig.

    Now, I do not suggest anyone do that unless you're going after a reputable client who already knows what good copy is and expects to pay good money.

    But the way I normally approach it is my fee is to guarantee I show up and do my part. It's my guarantee that if you do not run traffic I don't get burned because what I really want is a royalty.
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  • Profile picture of the author Tan Shengg
    There are many factor that contribute your client success. Copywriting is not one of them. It would not be ideal to make such guarantee.
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    • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
      Originally Posted by Tan Shengg View Post

      There are many factor that contribute your client success. Copywriting is not one of them. It would not be ideal to make such guarantee.
      You're on notice, Tan.

      Stop posting these one line inanities.
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      • Profile picture of the author Cam Connor
        Originally Posted by BrianMcLeod View Post

        You're on notice, Tan.

        Stop posting these one line inanities.
        Yes, I have to agree with you here Brian.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
    Every copywriter at their peak has written copy that didn't perform well.

    The key, at least from my vantage point, is to go into every partnership knowing that there's almost always adjustments to be made.

    If the copy converts decently, tweak and test the parts that heat maps or analytics show a steep drop off in viewing/readership.

    If the copy bombs, rewrite it.

    Of course, not for free.

    Make sure to ask for what you're worth.

    Is $15,000 + 10% of gross sales a solid investment for the product developer - if you stay on... until the copy converts? Yup.

    Is it worth it for you? Yup.

    But only if your client is 100% committed to do his/her part in designing the copy and driving plenty of ice-cold traffic... until the copy converts.

    There are no failures - unless you give up, right?

    Mark
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  • Profile picture of the author sethczerepak
    This is a tricky subject, but here's what I've found...

    When it comes to performance based services which require some competence, commitment and follow through on the part of the customer (coaching and consulting services, copywriting etc) , I've found that a guarantee attracts the type of prospect I don't want to work with.

    Any smart entrepreneur knows that their best and ONLY guarantee is their own commitment to succeed. When it comes time to hire some help, they're confident enough in their own judgement that they don't require a guarantee when hiring someone to work WITH them. They're confident that they'll do their part in making the campaign a success.

    On the other hand, new entrepreneurs who are scared, ignorant or inexperienced don't do ANYTHING without a guarantee. That's why they get locked into the "perpetual student" mode and bogged down by information overload.

    Again, this is just my opinion and experience, but if it's a joint effort and the person asks me for a guarantee, I don't touch it.
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    • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
      Originally Posted by sethczerepak View Post

      Any smart entrepreneur knows that their best and ONLY guarantee is their own commitment to succeed. When it comes time to hire some help, they're confident enough in their own judgement that they don't require a guarantee when hiring someone to work WITH them. They're confident that they'll do their part in making the campaign a success.

      On the other hand, new entrepreneurs who are scared, ignorant or inexperienced don't do ANYTHING without a guarantee. That's why they get locked into the "perpetual student" mode and bogged down by information overload.
      This is such a clean way of expressing the conundrum.

      What's that smell?

      Another WSO perhaps?

      Another 10 page PDF about guarantees in copywriting?

      Hmmm....

      Mark
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      • Profile picture of the author sethczerepak
        Originally Posted by Mark Pescetti View Post

        This is such a clean way of expressing the conundrum.

        What's that smell?

        Another WSO perhaps?

        Another 10 page PDF about guarantees in copywriting?

        Hmmm....

        Mark
        Dude, no more product ideas from you, I'm behind as it is lol
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  • Profile picture of the author PhilArmonik
    Originally Posted by splitTest View Post

    As copywriters, we know that a rock-solid guarantee is a great way to gain buyer trust and resolve objections. And an irresistible offer is the best way to get prospects to "act now" rather than later.

    ...But I've seen few copywriter sites that make any sort of guarantee to clients. Few even promise to work with a client until they're completely satisfied!

    ...And other than the "I only have a few slots open, so act fast" statements, most copywriter pitches don't include much of an offer either.

    The lack of guarantees is understandable, I guess. Clients don't want you to work with them until they're "satisfied." As amateurs, they're buying your expertise in pursuit of profit.

    ... And since there are so many moving parts to a copywriting campaign (message, list, timing, product, client meddling, etc., etc.), it's probably foolhardy to guarantee profit.

    Still, it's interesting that so few copywriter pitches out there include any sort of an "offer" at all. Have you guys noticed the same thing? Why aren't copywriters more creative with this kind of stuff?

    Do any of you pitch with a guarantee or an "offer" (other than a straightforward offer of your services)? Have you run across many copywriters that do?

    Just thought this was interesting, since for most other products and services, two of the most important elements of the sales message are the offer and the guarantee.
    It's a typical problem...we can (hopefully) blow the doors off any control, problem-agitate-solution all day long for products and services, and create an irresistible funnel through which all readers slide...but when it comes to selling ourselves - we choke.

    It's hard to talk about yourself (let alone sell yourself) in such a way that it directly benefits the prospective client. Most times, our "copy" to sell our service comes off sounding like a resume and that's not what they want to see...

    I agree with the "reverse psychology" move of telling them how bad or mediocre copy will damage their bottom line.

    But I'd go farther...I would learn all about them and their product or service and simply write a sales letter that addresses their fears and needs. Sounds simple enough when you're going after one client.

    But what about a general letter to no one in particular that trumpets your availability and desire to write great copy for them?

    In most cases, lead with a good story. Write down a bunch of tasty anecdotes about yourself and formulate an interesting tale.

    As you spin your yarn, segue into how you became the monster copywriter you are...and then go into specifics - stats, numbers, and campaign successes that you've achieved. You don't have to reveal the industry in which you enjoyed those successes - just that you did it. Numbers don't lie and the more specific they are the more convincing they become.

    Add in the tried and true testimonials and close with a strong CTA - reminding them their current marketing isn't working or could be greatly improved with your proven skills.

    Here's where you include the fact that bad copy will hurt...could even kill.

    Though this method is not foolproof (is anything we do foolproof?), it will work as long as you remember what you're writing is just another sales letter...

    There's nothing wrong with telling people how great you are - as long as they see and feel how your greatness will benefit them. In the end, that's really what they care about.

    For some ideas, check out Clayton Makepeace's Total Package website or Google Vin Montello and read his letter.

    And get excited about yourself! If you're not excited you can't expect anyone else to be either.

    Hope that helps.
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    • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
      Originally Posted by PhilArmonik View Post

      It's a typical problem...we can (hopefully) blow the doors off any control, problem-agitate-solution all day long for products and services, and create an irresistible funnel through which all readers slide...but when it comes to selling ourselves - we choke.
      Part of it is about selling yourself, true. But the biggest part of it is that you have no idea what they're doing with it once you've passed the work off to the client.

      They could edit it.
      They could rewrite it.
      They could try to use it in a different market or on a different audience than what was discussed.
      They could fail to drive any traffic.
      They could fail to mail.
      They could fail to even use the damn thing.

      I sure as hell am not guaranteeing anything I didn't enact myself, step by step. And even then, it's an iffy proposition.
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      • Profile picture of the author sethczerepak
        Originally Posted by angiecolee View Post

        Part of it is about selling yourself, true. But the biggest part of it is that you have no idea what they're doing with it once you've passed the work off to the client.

        They could edit it.
        They could rewrite it.
        Damn is this the truth.

        Probably the biggest reason well-written ads fail.

        The copywriter writes what the market wants to hear, the client rewrites it based on what THEY THINK the market wants to hear.
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      • Profile picture of the author PhilArmonik
        Originally Posted by angiecolee View Post

        Part of it is about selling yourself, true. But the biggest part of it is that you have no idea what they're doing with it once you've passed the work off to the client.

        They could edit it.
        They could rewrite it.
        They could try to use it in a different market or on a different audience than what was discussed.
        They could fail to drive any traffic.
        They could fail to mail.
        They could fail to even use the damn thing.

        I sure as hell am not guaranteeing anything I didn't enact myself, step by step. And even then, it's an iffy proposition.
        Absolutely true Angie...from now on I want my clients to guarantee they will "use only as directed!" Then we'll talk about MY guarantee!
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  • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
    When it comes to getting copy to convert, I'm like a rottweiler. Once I get my teeth into something, I don't (I can't) let go. It's part of my DNA.

    I don't state this "guarantee" publicly, because it sounds rather hypey to me. But the fact is, I work until my stuff converts. And my Client knows it when they bring me on. I shudder when I think about abandoning a project on the cusp of profitable conversions.

    But I wouldn't necessarily recommend this strategy to other copywriters. That is, unless you're being compensated accordingly and you know without a doubt you can get your copy to convert within a reasonable time.

    - Rick Duris

    PS: Rottweilers were originally dogs bred to drive cattle to market. Interesting analogy to copywriters, isn't it?

    A copywriter could take that hook and really do something with it. RottweilerCopy.com?

    And just as an aside, a rottweiler would make a pit bull his b!tch in a fight. Another interesting tidbit.

    Someone take it and run with it! Because I'm not. I have CopyRanger.

    Sheesh and there's Doberman Dan.
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    • Profile picture of the author PhilArmonik
      Originally Posted by RickDuris View Post

      When it comes to getting copy to convert, I'm like a rottweiler. Once I get my teeth into something, I don't (I can't) let go. It's part of my DNA.

      I don't state this "guarantee" publicly, because it sounds rather hypey to me. But the fact is, I work until my stuff converts. And my Client knows it when they bring me on. I shudder when I think about abandoning a project on the cusp of profitable conversions.

      But I wouldn't necessarily recommend this strategy to other copywriters. That is, unless you're being compensated accordingly and you know without a doubt you can get your copy to convert within a reasonable time.

      - Rick Duris

      PS: Rottweilers were originally dogs bred to drive cattle to market. Interesting analogy to copywriters, isn't it?

      A copywriter could take that hook and really do something with it. RottweilerCopy.com?

      And just as an aside, a rottweiler would make a pit bull his b!tch in a fight. Another interesting tidbit.

      Someone take it and run with it! Because I'm not. I have CopyRanger.

      Sheesh and there's Doberman Dan.
      Rick - that was brilliant! LOL! Are you here all week?!
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    • Profile picture of the author Cam Connor
      Originally Posted by RickDuris View Post

      PS: Rottweilers were originally dogs bred to drive cattle to market. Interesting analogy to copywriters, isn't it?
      LOL. That's not what we do... *wink*
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  • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
    LOL Rick - I love the ADD in that post. I'd take rottweiler, but I prefer rockstar.

    'Cause, well...the alternative is a rather blatant comparison to a bitch. Ha!
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    • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
      Originally Posted by angiecolee View Post

      LOL Rick - I love the ADD in that post. I'd take rottweiler, but I prefer rockstar.

      'Cause, well...the alternative is a rather blatant comparison to a bitch. Ha!
      I was also thinking a group of copywriters could use it and do a campaign called "Unleash the Hounds of Hell" type of thing.

      PS: And you should do a rock parody for copywriting. Maybe blues. To the tune of Muddy's "Hoochie Kootchie Man".

      I don't know. But if the lyrics hit the mark, I suspect it'd go viral. But the success is in the lyrics.
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      • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
        Originally Posted by RickDuris View Post

        I was also thinking a group of copywriters could use it and do a campaign called "Unleash the Hounds of Hell" type of thing.

        PS: And you should do a rock parody for copywriting. Maybe blues. To the tune of Muddy's "Hoochie Kootchie Man".

        I don't know. But if the lyrics it the mark, I suspect it'd go viral. But the success is in the lyrics.
        LOL - the band already does a female-oriented version of Hoochie Coochie Man.

        Definitely agree though - I've been thinking about rock parodies a lot lately.

        OP - I guarantee this highly entertaining tangent just hijacked your thread. Apologies!
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    As has been mentioned above service-oriented professions seldom
    offer a guarantee. I can guarantee that I will offer you original and
    my best work, but results are trickier to work with.

    Early on I offered a guarantee to boost conversion but not by
    a particular number. When you work for marketers they know
    that you cannot guarantee any results and so if you try to do
    so they know right away that you are an amateur in the business
    (as I was when I offered the conversion guarantee.)

    -Ray Edwards
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  • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
    Cam, it looks like someone beat me to the general idea:


    Oh well. Next.
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  • Profile picture of the author Cam Connor
    Pink & Rottweiler, two things you normally don't see together. Great stuff. lol
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  • Profile picture of the author wikidzdotinfo
    Originally Posted by splitTest View Post

    As copywriters, we know that a rock-solid guarantee is a great way to gain buyer trust and resolve objections. And an irresistible offer is the best way to get prospects to "act now" rather than later.

    ...But I've seen few copywriter sites that make any sort of guarantee to clients. Few even promise to work with a client until they're completely satisfied!

    ...And other than the "I only have a few slots open, so act fast" statements, most copywriter pitches don't include much of an offer either.

    The lack of guarantees is understandable, I guess. Clients don't want you to work with them until they're "satisfied." As amateurs, they're buying your expertise in pursuit of profit.

    ... And since there are so many moving parts to a copywriting campaign (message, list, timing, product, client meddling, etc., etc.), it's probably foolhardy to guarantee profit.

    Still, it's interesting that so few copywriter pitches out there include any sort of an "offer" at all. Have you guys noticed the same thing? Why aren't copywriters more creative with this kind of stuff?

    Do any of you pitch with a guarantee or an "offer" (other than a straightforward offer of your services)? Have you run across many copywriters that do?

    Just thought this was interesting, since for most other products and services, two of the most important elements of the sales message are the offer and the guarantee.
    Its something I've never tried offering but I have kind of sidestepped up to it a couple of times while writing my copy, before sidling away with a kind of "mehhhh" noise accompanied by some rapid head shaking. I think for me the word "Guarantee" can be too easily taken out of context and can lead to a lot of unnecessary fist shaking and finger pointing when things go bad in the client's perception.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jomuli3
      Like an umbrella during rains, a guarantee protects and reassures the buyer.

      To a copywriter selling his or her services, a guarantee that promises results shouldn't be used.

      This is because the copywriter has no control over the copy he has written for his client.

      He surrenders full rights to his client immediately the project is paid for in full. The client then could make changes to content and price if he so wishes. Market trends could also affect sales copy performance.

      Consequently, if the copy fails to deliver it isn't the fault of the copywriter.

      To stay away from the stormy sea, he shouldn't promise his client a '20% conversion rate.'

      Bob Bly, a top copywriter, attests to this fact in his article - 'copywriters should You Guarantee your Clients Results?' But he points out that it's alright to give a guarantee in areas a copywriter has control.

      For example ---

      --- A copywriter could promise to re-write a sales letter according to his clients' areas of specifications. He could guarantee that.

      What does this boil down to?

      The underlying principle is to guarantee to offer copywriting services in areas within one's control as long as it isn't results-based.

      Marching off line ---

      It's also worth noting that buyers' remorse is strongest immediately after the purchase. It wanes with passage of time.

      A guarantee that gives 60 days money back guarantee, capitalizes on this psychological buyer behavior --- buyers usually don't get back within stipulated time especially when purchasing small items.

      In a nutshell ---

      A guarantee precisely and effectively rationalizes buying decisions by dispelling fears and objections. However, it shouldn't be used to promise results when marketing copywriting services for reasons stated earlier above.
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      • Profile picture of the author splitTest
        Originally Posted by Jomuli3 View Post

        Like an umbrella during rains, a guarantee protects and reassures the buyer.

        To a copywriter selling his or her services, a guarantee that promises results shouldn't be used.

        This is because the copywriter has no control over the copy he has written for his client.

        He surrenders full rights to his client immediately the project is paid for in full. The client then could make changes to content and price if he so wishes. Market trends could also affect sales copy performance.

        Consequently, if the copy fails to deliver it isn't the fault of the copywriter.

        To stay away from the stormy sea, he shouldn't promise his client a '20% conversion rate.'

        Bob Bly, a top copywriter, attests to this fact in his article - 'copywriters should You Guarantee your Clients Results?' But he points out that it's alright to give a guarantee in areas a copywriter has control.

        For example ---

        --- A copywriter could promise to re-write a sales letter according to his clients' areas of specifications. He could guarantee that.

        What does this boil down to?

        The underlying principle is to guarantee to offer copywriting services in areas within one's control as long as it isn't results-based.

        Marching off line ---

        It's also worth noting that buyers' remorse is strongest immediately after the purchase. It wanes with passage of time.

        A guarantee that gives 60 days money back guarantee, capitalizes on this psychological buyer behavior --- buyers usually don't get back within stipulated time especially when purchasing small items.

        In a nutshell ---

        A guarantee precisely and effectively rationalizes buying decisions by dispelling fears and objections. However, it shouldn't be used to promise results when marketing copywriting services for reasons stated earlier above.
        I'm on bly's list too. Good stuff. Copywriting guarantees -- last Thursday's post.
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