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The 7 Deadly Claims (Part 5) — “100% Risk-Free”

Posted By Jeff Sexton On January 8, 2008 @ 10:42 am In Articles,Branding,Copywriting | 18 Comments

set it and forget itWant to sound like an innnnfomercial?

Want to make your product or service sound too good to be true, and in a way that adds no value to the sale?

Then this deadly claim is for you.

But wait, there’s morrrre!

Not only will “100% Risk-Free” put you in the august company of infomercial Valhalla, it’ll even alienate your readers, causing them to suspect all your other claims as well!

Now, you’re probably saying to yourself, “Jeff, that’s amazing! But how can 100% Risk-Free possibly do all of that?”

(Switches out of Guy Smiley voice)

Allow me to explain…

YouTube Preview Image [1]

Time vs. Money

First of all, time is frequently more valuable to your audience than money [2]. So even if you’re offering a free trial, your audience still feels considerable risk. And that disconnect between the risk your audience feels and your website’s “100% Risk-Free Guarantee” kills your credibility — especially as your visitors (consciously or otherwise) ponder the following questions:

  • How much of my time am I going to waste trying this thing?
  • How frustrated will I get trying to learn how to use it?
  • How annoyed will I be if it turns out to be a complete piece of garbage?
  • How difficult and time consuming will it be to return?

Want to see a company who gets this? Visit Zappos.com [3]. Here’s how they address each of these time vs. risk bugaboos:

  1. They let you see the shoe up-close and personal from almost every angle imaginable and they have better than average product descriptions.
  2. They carry top brand name products, which helps to transfer confidence from the brand onto them. (If you’ve had good luck with Keen shoes, you’re probably not worried about your order disappointing you.)
  3. They have very good customer reviews that frequently bring up any possible issues, especially “fits true to size.”
  4. They ship the shoes amazingly fast, so you don’t waste your time waiting for them to arrive.
  5. Zappos has made the return process so unbelievably easy and pleasant, it’s amazing. You simply print out a return label, slap it on the same box the shoes came in, and everything is prepaid. In fact, if you ask a Zappos.com customer, the first thing you’ll likely hear about is their policy of providing free shipping both ways.

If your website is pitching services (not products), you’ll need to slightly modify these steps. Still, it’s easy enough to see how comprehensive demos do the same thing as product photos, or how case studies could accomplish similar persuasive goals as reviews, etc. And for services, the second point is even more important than the first.

The Wrath of Con

Customers are way too used to being ripped off by catch-22’s, fine print, and outright cons [4]. Worse, in the face of this aggravation, almost nobody’s Web copy closes all the loopholes. Fail to answer the following questions and you’ll be presumed guilty without ever getting the chance to prove yourself innocent:

  • Is this an opt-out system, or an opt-in system? What happens at the end of the free trial? Do customers have to remember to cancel their free trial to avoid the shock of seeing strange bills on their credit card, or have you resisted the temptation of sleazeball profits?
  • Is the free trial for a stripped-down module, or for a basic offer that has all the useful features reserved for paid membership? Am I going to get 30-60 minutes into a project, only to find I can’t complete it without buying into the full service?
  • What kind of customer service and help do you provide during the trial? (Free trials won’t do much good if I’m constantly frustrated or if I have to waste hours to get a simple question answered.)
  • What kind of time limitations have you placed on me? 30-days may seem more than adequate until you’ve been burned a few times by running over the trial period. 90-days is better, but I’d recommend Zappos’ one-full-year or L.L.Bean’s lifetime guarantee.

Like all of the other Deadly Claims, the first step in fixing this one involves seeing your visitors as real. Determine their true concerns and then address them with specific, substantiated claims [5]. Lay off the generalizations and let your visitors come to their own conclusions based on the specifics. In other words, “Show, don’t tell.”

UPDATE: Read Jeff’s follow-up article, “Infomercial Marketing Techniques that Work (or Your Money Back!) [6]

Read more about the 7 Deadly Claims at your own risk…

  1. Superior Customer Service [7]
  2. Easy to Use [8]
  3. Most Experienced [9]
  4. We’re #1 [10]
  5. 100% Risk-Free [11]
  6. Cutting Edge [12]
  7. Best Value [13]

[Editor's note: Has your website become risky business? Sharpen up your virtual sales pitch at our Persuasive Online Copywriting seminar [14] on March 28th in San Francisco. Jeff and Holly will be your instructors for this first-ever West Coast edition of our popular one-day copywriting crash course. Class size is limited so that attendees can get real advice and actually learn something. You'll even get $100 off if you register [14] by 2/29.]

Article printed from Conversion Rate Optimization & Marketing Blog | FutureNow: http://www.grokdotcom.com

URL to article: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2008/01/08/100-percent-risk-free/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNOjCOmWCoE

[2] time is frequently more valuable to your audience than money: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/08/13/perspective-no-4-time-vs-money/

[3] Zappos.com: http://www.zappos.com

[4] outright cons: http://www.mondaymorningmemo.com/?ShowMe=ThisMemo&MemoID=1611

[5] specific, substantiated claims: http://www.mondaymorningmemo.com/?ShowMe=ThisMemo&MemoID=1731

[6] Infomercial Marketing Techniques that Work (or Your Money Back!): http://www.grokdotcom.com/2008/01/14/infomercial-marketing-techniques-that-work/

[7] Superior Customer Service: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/11/26/superior-customer-service/

[8] Easy to Use: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/12/06/easy-to-use/

[9] Most Experienced: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/12/11/most-experienced/

[10] We’re #1: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/12/19/were-number-one/

[11] 100% Risk-Free: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2008/01/08/100-percent-risk-free/

[12] Cutting Edge: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2008/02/12/cutting-edge-web-copy/

[13] Best Value: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2008/02/28/best-value-copywriting/

[14] Persuasive Online Copywriting seminar: http://www.futurenowinc.com/poccta0308.htm?utm_source=GrokDotCom&utm_medium=Post&utm_content=Link-1265&utm_campaign=POCCTA0308

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