How to Create an Incredibly Convincing Satisfaction Guarantee


Here’s an idea: if you sell something, think about why people don’t buy from you.

I don’t mean the unqualified people – there are always good reasons why people should not give you money.

But for the qualified prospects — people for whom your product or service is a good fit — why don’t they buy?

Maybe you haven’t done a good job with the sales copy, maybe they’re not in the right place at the right time, or something else. But at the heart of the matter, people are afraid, skeptical, or just plain not convinced.

To help prospects come over to your side of the fence, you need an incredibly convincing guarantee. This guarantee has to go far beyond an offer to get your money back.

The basic, “money back within 30 days” guarantee is no longer very convincing. It’s expected. It is the norm.

For Example

I haven’t eaten at Taco Bell in a long time, but ten years ago when I didn’t care about my health, I used to spend quite a lot of time and money over there.

Back in the day (and maybe now still, I have no idea), they came out with what they positioned as an amazing guarantee: “If you don’t like it, we’ll eat it.”

In other words, if you weren’t happy with your cinnamon crisps, they would refund your 59, 79, or 99 cents. I was new to marketing at the time, but I still remember feeling skeptical about this offer. If I hadn’t already been a Taco Bell customer, did they think this offer would bring me in the door?

I mean, my average bill for a full meal was about $2.70, so the risk was very low. They were promising to give me $3 back? Not convincing.

This is why you need to go above and beyond to convince skeptical prospects.

Not many businesses get this, but some do. Look at Zappos, which has done very well selling shoes and service. At Zappos, they actually encourage you to order multiple pairs of shoes and send back the ones you don’t want. They pay the shipping both ways, so you have effectively no risk. That’s incredibly convincing, since the idea of buying shoes online used to be considered strange and unmarketable.

For another good example, look at Kiva, provider of economic empowerment from Afghanistan to Zambia. Kiva facilitates loans between rich people (like you and me) and motivated entrepreneurs in poorer countries. They currently have a 98.6% repayment rate, which is good because the first objection most people have when they hear about loaning money to a farmer in Uganda is, “Does that work? How will I get my money back?”

98.6% is pretty convincing, I think, especially when our own banks in New York and Frankfurt aren’t doing so great these days.

As for me, you may have noticed that I will be releasing my second information product on Wednesday.

It’s called the Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself: Creating Freedom through a Very Small Business.

I’m excited about it, and I know it will help many people. Since I’ve previously explained who it won’t help, I thought it would be fair to explain who it will.

Here is the goal:

  • In the short-term, the guide will help a lot of people start very small businesses which earn at least $200 a month.
  • In the long-term, some of those people will build out a series of very small businesses to escape the tyranny of traditional employment.

That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.

I don’t want to guarantee too much, because as I’ve said before, self-employment is not for everyone and it takes a lot of work. But I also don’t want to guarantee too little, so that’s why we’re doing something unique.

The 60-Day, $2,400 Guarantee

First, the typical satisfaction guarantee applies. If it doesn’t rock your world, you get your money back. No problem.

But here is the second part.

In the first section of the new guide, I will be asking everyone to take the time to set a couple of goals for the new business they are going to start.

My second guarantee is that I will refuse to accept your money if it doesn’t work for you, according to these specific metrics:

Satisfaction Effectiveness Guaranteed

If, after 60 days, someone has read the guide, listened to the audio files, and put in a fair effort on their part (they will be the sole judge) but has not been able to start a project that earns at least $200 a month, then they get their money back even if they like the guide.

In other words, the burden is on me to deliver, or I don’t get paid a dime.

A minimum of $200 a month x 12 months = $2,400 minimum. There are no geographic restrictions or other fine print.

See, I want my products to actually help people. I’m interested in mass accountability, and this is the latest experiment.

What You’ll Get

The Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself consists of an online guide and downloadable MP3 files:

  • 55-pages of strategic and tactical info in a professionally designed report
  • 3 25-minute MP3 audio downloads
  • 1 Special Bonus (it’s not from me, so I’m not allowed to say more yet)
  • Free Updates for 6 Months

There are no shipping charges and everything will be delivered through instant download right after purchase.

As for the cost, in the future I will probably price the guide in the $50-79 range, but we’ll kick it off this week for less than that – probably around $45 or so, with a small discount for everyone on the newsletter list.

And in the end, the people who buy it will succeed at a measurable rate far greater than the purchase price, or I will insist that they keep their money. No exceptions.

Fair enough?

Oh, and one more thing: since I know this won’t be for everyone, to make it fun for the whole group we’ll be posting a few specific case studies beginning 45 days after the launch. The goal is to feature real-life stories showing exactly what kinds of “very small businesses” have been created as a result of this project.

Since I don’t know exactly what will happen, this should be interesting… but my hope is that we’ll get some people willing to show actual web sites and sales figures.


What do you think? Am I crazy to offer this kind of guarantee?

AND… if you already have a business, what kind of Incredibly Convincing Guarantee can you offer your customers? Is there a way you can rock their world so they keep coming back to you?

See you all on Wednesday morning…



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  • Laurel says:

    Looking forward to the guide! Discovered your blog a few weeks ago and I’m really enjoying it. Great content and you strike a great tone–no hype or hyperbole.

  • Linnea says:

    This is the guide I’ve been waiting for. Thanks for getting it out so quickly. I’m looking forward to working for myself, and I’m very glad you’re offering a helpful product.


  • Elliot says:

    I think a no quibble 30 days cash back guarantee is a great idea!, this would probably settle down most reservations the customer may have, knowing that if they do not like the product, then they will get a full refund. And if I think about it, most of the items I’ve bought online have a guarantee, but I’ve never returned anything.

  • Mike says:

    Do those that subscribe through RSS, versus newsletter, count for the additional discount?

  • LaVeda H. Mason says:

    I think that this is a great idea (so much so that I had to come out of feed-reading to comment)!

    It also encourages people to actually *do* something with the info, rather than just file it away in a ‘To Be Done’ pile (I won’t tell you how I know about that, LOL.)

    I was disappointed in one thing though… I was ready to pull out my dusty debit card, and there was no ‘buy now’ link… I guess that I’ll just have to keep checking my email 🙂

    Your writings and travel have been a great encouragement to me and my dreams.

  • Tara says:

    Yay! I can’t wait for the Guide! I have a very small business right now (right around $200/mo) but it involves physically creating every unique item I sell (ie. spinning & dyeing each skein of yarn) and I’m looking for something less intensive and more scalable (a girl can only make so much yarn in a day!)

  • Will @ The Rebel Mind says:

    hey Chris!

    I am really looking forward to your guide. I am already sure I am going to buy it and, since I am living in Austria, we will see if it works in a different geographic environment 😉


  • Chris Guillebeau says:

    Thanks, everyone. I’m trying to maintain a balance between a) being genuinely excited about it, and b) managing expectations that may sometimes be unrealistic — so the guarantee is a big part of that. This way I feel more comfortable all around, because no one pays if it’s not a good fit for any reason.


    Well, I don’t really know how to set up the discount via RSS, technically speaking. I know there are lots of you out there who prefer RSS to email, and that’s cool – but maybe for this it’s better if you join the email list and then unsubscribe after this week if you still want to stick to RSS. I’m not offended if anyone wants to do that.

  • PizzaForADream says:

    I think this release will be much more successful than the last as it has a broader appeal. Are we going to get any snippets of content before Wednesday? What makes this book different from the others that have gone before?

  • Marshall says:

    I’m interested. How much time is to be put into earning this 200/month? I don’t want to be trading much time for a measly 200 bucks. Plus, I simply can’t; I have too much on my plate as it is.

    Let me know though. If I could do this as a weekend project or briefly each day, I’d be interested.

    Thanks in advance for the help.

  • Chris Guillebeau says:


    Great – you will be the first Austrian reviewer!


    I don’t think I’ll have any content samples before Wednesday, sorry — it’s a busy week over here. I think what makes it different is the balance between strategy and tactics (kind of like what we did for the airfare guide, although on a broader scale like you mention), and I’ll say more about that when it’s available.


    I’m glad you asked. If you have too much on your plate right now, this is not for you. Setting up a new business, even a very small one, does take some time and it’s impossible to say in advance how much it will require from any one person.

    The $200/month is a base goal – it is certainly my hope that many people will do much more than that. But again, it takes time and willingness to learn.

  • Saravanan says:

    I have not yet started my business. I would love to start one soon. I am eagerly waiting for your guide.

    I am employed full time and I want to have the freedom to do things that I like rather than I am supposed to, this is my main motive behind starting a small business.

  • Marshall - bondChristian says:

    Thanks for replying. I’ll think about it. I’m sure it’ll be good; I just want to make sure I can exceed your goal so I can show off for you. 😀

  • Nathan says:

    I’ve never been a big fan of web courses, but this time, considering the source, I can actually say I am very excited to take part in this. Having been following your blog for some time and knowing the quality of your work, I have no doubts this product will be a huge success for both the buyers and yourself.

    You’ve gone about this the right way, by offering content first and then coming out with a legitimate product rather than the other way around. I can’t wait.

  • Terroglobo says:

    My wife has a very small business, a course for little children, based on reading and creating tales. The guarantee is the cuality of her job, and the satisfaction of the children and their parents. The children are happy learning while they play. They can take the course or go out freely, so they don´t have to pay the course complitely if they are not satisfied.
    As you say, it is very important to offer something new or something more than your competitors. We live in a global world, where anyone can look for, compare and decide.
    See you.

  • Kevin says:

    The most convincing guarantee I’ve offered was simply: here it is, take it, and if you find it useful, pay me whatever you think it is worth. Of course this isn’t really practical with physical products, but I’ve done OK with informational products. Cheapskates will pirate those anyway, so why not get everyone on board.

  • Travis says:

    I came across your website and materials this morning after Seth’s blog post. I am excited about your community and find your ideas stimulating, motivating, and inspirational. I enjoy finding like minded individuals with similar pursuits and priorities. It increases the overlap between things that I enjoy doing and things that can earn money right now.

    I am starting a new product based website this month, and I am incorporating a lot of your ideas into the product launch, the blog, the website, identifying customer needs, etc, etc. I’ll keep you updated on its success.

    So let me get this straight. Your guarantee has a maximum exposure to you of the sale price of the guide?

    I am toying with the idea of some fairly aggressive guarantees for my products and I _love_ this idea. However, my partner (read: wife) is concerned about the financial burden/risk by these guarantees. I am convinced the guarantees will actually decrease returns and increase sales.

    I’ve already signed up to receive your blog via RSS and will sign up via email so you can count me among your small army.

    Thank you for your time, efforts, and thoughts.


  • Molly Gordon says:

    First, congratulations on the site. It is fun to look at, easy to use, and useful to boot.

    Now, on to guarantees. Plenty of folks will tell you to offer a convincing guarantee. Few know how to give a great example. You did both and demonstrated an expert (and respectful) soft sell at the same time.

    What I like most of all is the care you take to identify what I call the “just-right client” and to help those who aren’t make other choices.

    I wish you the greatest success.


  • James says:


    I read many of the comments relating to your price guarantee, but one in particular, from Travis, prompted me to reply. Travis writes, in part:

    “. . . I am toying with the idea of some fairly aggressive guarantees for my products and I _love_ this idea. However, my partner (read: wife) is concerned about the financial burden/risk by these guarantees. I am convinced the guarantees will actually decrease returns and increase sales.”

    He’s right. At least as regards returns and sales. When I started my own consulting practice, I was looking for a way to establish a point of difference, a particularized form of a USP (Unique Selling Proposition for those not into acronyms). Also, I wanted to inspire confidence in my newly-created practice, because, to the world that didn’t know me all that well, hiring my firm might be perceived as a risk (i.e. who are you, I don’t know you, what’s your track record, blah blah blah).

    I remembered the Nordstrom guarantee, of course, but I also remembered that one of my favourite companies, Lands End had a guarantee that I loved, and had NEVER used. It went like this: “Guaranteed. Period.” In fact, I loved it so much that I wrote the company, and the then President, the Late Gary Comer, and told them I was ripping it off, but that I would always give them credit for it, as I’m doing here now.

    Long story short, I’ve maintained that guarantee since my practice started, and, to date, not one single person has ever asked me to honour it.

    For the record, there will be a very small percentage of people you can’t make happy. And, having expanded into consumer market research, we’ve learned that the “hit rate” will hover somewhere between 3 and 5%. But you can build that in to your cost formulation and keep it manageable.

    One caution. . .having an absolute guarantee forces you to be vigilant, and hyper-committed to first rate customer/client service. You have to be willing to make every customer happy if it’s at all within your power to do so. And you have to lead with it.

    It’s really not about clever words, or timing, or promotions, or even just basic execution, although all those things, and more, are important. It’s about sticking to your word. Just doing that, and that alone, will make you stand out, not just from your competition, but from most businesses that are out there. Pretty powerful stuff.

    Travis’s business partner’s concerns aside, such a guarantee would absolutely inspire confidence in me, even if he ends up sleeping with the dog for a while.

    I look forward to hearing you announce it when he launches.

    Warm Regards,


  • Travis says:


    I wanted to thank you for your thoughts and response to my comments. I checked out the Lands End guarantee and I loved it! They returned a car purchased from them in 1984, and refunded the customer in 2005. Now that is commitment.

    Since, I made that comment I have been doing even more research and thinking regarding the guarantees we plan to offer.

    I have been kicking around the idea of “6 months, no questions asked guarantee”. I’ve also been looking into other service oriented offers, such as “free shipping both ways”, and the most aggressive loyalty programs on the planet.

    I’ve decided that during the process of developing these service related guarantees and policies, that I will ask my visitors what they would like to see from us. Do they want “free shipping”, “next day service”, no questions asked guarantees, loyalty and rewards programs, or some service that I have not even thought of?

    I am getting more and more excited about this idea. If you could, as a customer, decide how the company you purchased goods from treated you, I am convinced this is an incredible way to build loyalty and overcome resistance to purchase or buyers remorse.

    I want to truly understand my customers and their needs. After finding out what they want, my plan is to deliver all of that and more. Not just the most popular requests.

    I have my work cut out for me, but I am excited about the possibilities.

    Thanks again for your thoughts.


  • Reg Scheepers says:

    Thanks Chris. I have just emailed my business partner and recommended we add a guarantee to pay for shipping back to our factory if someone is dissatisfied.

  • Avadhut says:

    I am into Finance Career Coaching. Here’s what I do for satisfaction guarantee. My first session is always FREE. Once and only if the client is satisfied and willing to continue, I charge coaching fee.

  • Terry Heick says:

    There are obviously differences between product that are digital and physical, including the ease of “procurement” of digital media. That said, if you truly believe in your (narrow, not-for-everyone) customer base, those that pilfer wouldn’t be in that group anyway.

    I would like to create an innovative way to offer a guarantee on some of my services, including K-12 online courses. The problem is, the biggest challenge isn’t necessarily with the utility or strength of the guarantee, but the *appearance* of that utility. Thus, innovation. (Though I don’t wish to belittle my audience–I just think people are busy, and assume or skim a bit too often–myself included.)

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