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Design, marketing, and other creative agencies and consultants have a unique challenge.
It can be tough to convince clients to pay before clients see a finished product. And, this is especially true for smaller graphic design and marketing agencies that don’t have the rock-solid reputations of top firms to pave the way.
Purchasing design or marketing services can be a speculative action.
And research suggests that spending money can actually trigger pain reactions in the brain. When you add that into the mix, it’s easy to see why making sales can be such an onerous task for agencies.
But what if you could overcome both of those challenges – and more – with a single marketing tactic?
The fact is that you can.
A simple, well-crafted guarantee could be the game-changer your agency has been searching for. Here’s what you need to know about offering results and/or service guarantees to your clients and prospective clients.
Three reasons why your agency should have a guarantee
1. Guarantees remove risk/friction
Most clients are uncomfortable paying for something sight unseen. They worry that they won’t get what they’re looking for. And, that’s a reasonable concern.
In fact, this was the key reason we founded crowdspring in 2008 and the reason why our model lets clients pick from actual designs (or names), rather than bids and proposals. More about this in our look at 10 essential tools that will help grow your marketing agency.
A guarantee can help to mitigate that concern for agencies that are not comfortable or unwilling to work on spec, making the client comfortable with the decision to hire the agency.
A money-back guarantee or a satisfaction guarantee can effectively remove the danger by ensuring that the client can get a refund if it doesn’t work out; or, that you’ll work with the client until they are satisfied.
2. Guarantees build client confidence
A business willing to guarantee their product or service exudes confidence.
It’s one reason we have a 100% money-back guarantee on crowdspring. We stand behind our services.
Many of our competitors offer confusing, convoluted guarantees where you can get some money back but not all of it, with confusing and restrictive rules how/when/why you can request money back. As a client, I hate those types of guarantees.
Guarantees, to be effective and to build client confidence, should be simple.
A guarantee means the agency is assuming the risk instead of the client. And, the agency is so confident in what they have to offer, that they’re not even worried.
That kind of confidence inspires confidence from others. Clients will take notice and feel comfortable with your ability to deliver on your promises.
And you’ll stand out from other agencies who sell on a relative basis (i.e. telling clients that if they blog twice as much, they’ll get twice as much traffic).
3. Guarantees increase sales
Removing risk and building client confidence are important. But they don’t pay the bills.
But the good news is that removing clients’ concerns and giving them reasons to be confident in your business will naturally lead to more sales.
Leads who were on the fence will have fewer reasons to walk away.
And, if you offer a quality service, they’ll have every reason to give your business a shot.
What a good guarantee looks like
Guarantees come in many forms – and that’s good. It means that with a little creativity, and intimate knowledge of your business, there’s a guarantee for every agency.
But, it’s important to remember some basic guidelines to ensure that your guarantee works for both your business and your clients. Here’s what to look for…
a service or results guarantee must have clear terms.
The terms of your guarantee must be clear. What is your client guaranteed to receive? Is there a time frame? What conditions apply?
You’ve got to think through all aspects of your guarantee completely before launching it for your clients. And you have to clearly articulate those terms to avoid confusion or setting false expectations.
Confusing or overly complex guarantees will raise red flags, suspicions, and misunderstandings that undermine your efforts.
a service or results guarantee must be enforceable.
Your guarantee must be something you can deliver – consistently.
So, when planning your guarantee, look at your business processes.
What can you safely guarantee taking into consideration the way your business is currently run?
You can’t guarantee results – nobody can. But you can guarantee that if you don’t obtain results for a client, you’ll refund their fees.
For example, you can’t guarantee that you can create a strong brand identity for your clients. But you can guarantee that they’ll love the identity you create for them.
If necessary, make tweaks to your processes or infrastructure that will allow your guarantee to be painlessly sustainable.
a service or results guarantee must differentiate your agency.
Your guarantee should help to set your agency apart from the pack.
Make an offer that is unique and compelling.
This guarantee not only serve as a powerful sales tool, but it will also help drive traffic to your agency instead of your competitor.
While a potential client can’t directly compare the finished products, they might receive from two different agencies (they don’t exist yet), they can directly compare guarantees.
And, they will.
a service or results guarantee must be easy for clients to use.
A good guarantee must be easy for a client to take advantage of.
Everyone hates jumping through rings of fire to get a refund or claim something to which they feel entitled. And yet, some businesses make it nearly impossible to follow through on their guarantee.
Don’t be one of those businesses.
Creating a guarantee structure that is difficult to execute will make customers feel like they’ve been scammed. And, they’ll be sure to let their friends and family know. But, if you create a pain-free, frictionless guarantee process, your clients will walk away happy.
Is one of these guarantees right for your agency?
100% Money Back Guarantee – The 100% money back guarantee ensures that a client will receive all of their investment back if they meet the terms of the guarantee. This guarantee is very popular with clients as it removes all risk from their investment.
Here at crowdspring, this is the guarantee we offer for all of our graphic design projects, including logo design, web design, product design, and other design projects. It gives our clients complete confidence in posting a design project because they know they can request a refund if the results in a project don’t meet their expectations. This rarely happens, but clients love that they have this guarantee.
Many agencies that leverage crowdspring for creative assets smartly use this guarantee because they can easily pass the same guarantee on to their clients.
Partial Refund Guarantee – Some agencies prefer to keep part of the fees paid and refund the remaining amount to the client. This is a little less risky for the agency, but also a little less appealing to a client.
Design Quantity (Choice) Guarantee – This guarantee promises that the agency will deliver a certain number of designs or marketing services for the client to choose from. You have the option of defining a flat number for all clients or negotiating the specific quantity to be met on a client-by-client basis.
This is the guarantee we offer at crowdspring for business name and business tagline projects. In naming and tagline projects, we guarantee clients will get at least 100 names or taglines to choose from. We make this very clear when clients create a project – we don’t want clients to be surprised. This offers an unparalleled choice for clients that they cannot get anywhere else.
Low Price (Or Price Match) Guarantee – Clients love to know that they’re getting the best deal – and this guarantee delivers that peace of mind. A low-price guarantee assures that your agency will offer or match the lowest price available.
Bonus Guarantee – People love free stuff. And, the bonus guarantee is contingent on offering the client a free bonus of some sort with their purchase. If they’re not pleased with their primary service, they can receive a refund (or partial refund) but still keep their bonus gift.
24 Hour Response Guarantee – Prompt customer support has real value in our fast-paced world. Offering a 24-hour response guarantee reassures clients that they’ll always hear back from your team within 24 hours of reaching out.
This is just a small sampling of the types of guarantees that your agency could offer. Think about the reasons your clients are hesitant to purchase and any outstanding services your agency offers that might translate into a stellar custom guarantee.
How to successfully execute a guarantee
1. Set terms and conditions
It’s best to start by defining exactly what you’re guaranteeing will happen.
But, don’t just slap a random guarantee on anything and hope it’ll make an impact. Kathryn Aragon explains for DigitalMarketer.com:
Your best bet is to determine why people resist purchasing (or purchasing more), then create a guarantee that covers that situation.
To make the biggest impact, tackle the biggest obstacle to your sales.
Are clients concerned they won’t like the finished product? Offer a money back guarantee.
Maybe clients think they won’t have enough designs to choose from? Guarantee they’ll have a choice of designs.
Are clients intimidated by the process? Offer a no-stress guarantee.
Then outline exactly what conditions apply. Remember that the more complex the conditions are, the harder it will be for clients to take advantage – and the weaker your guarantee will become.
2. Set the time period
For how long will clients be able to take advantage of your guarantee? 30 days? 3 months? 1 year? Some guarantees can last a lifetime.
Clients will, of course, prefer guarantees covering longer time spans. But you have to consider what length of time works for your business, as well.
Look at the framework of the guarantee you plan to offer.
Then assess the costs (monetary, time and resources) required to deliver that guarantee for set lengths of time.
Then choose the timeframe that makes the most sense for you.
3. Create a business infrastructure that supports the guarantee
You shouldn’t have to work hard to execute your guarantee. A guarantee with too high of a cost simply isn’t sustainable. It’ll put you out of business, instead of increasing your revenues and profits.
So, if you’re serious about creating a successful guarantee campaign, create a system that supports that guarantee easily and effortlessly.
If you’re offering a money-back guarantee, make sure your support team is fully briefed and empowered to handle refunds easily.
If you’re guaranteeing choice of designs, consider enlisting the help of a reputable crowdsourcing design service like crowdspring to bolster your creative pool and provide more designs for clients to choose from.
Only you know what processes or tools will be necessary to execute your unique guarantee. Just be sure to get them in place so that you can provide an easy and painless guarantee for both your client and your business.
4. Set proper expectations for clients
Your guarantee is destined to fail if you don’t communicate it clearly.
Make sure you feature your guarantee prominently on your website and in your marketing materials. But, that’s not all. You also have to explain it in language that sets appropriate expectations for your clients.
If a client thinks your guarantee ensures a complete refund, but in fact, they can only be refunded a portion of their fees… that’s a recipe for unhappy clients.
Have someone with a fresh perspective proofread your guarantee copy before you make it live.
A guarantee is a deceptively simple, but powerful marketing tool. Don’t underestimate the positive impact it could make on your agency’s bottom line.