From the March 2005 issue of Entrepreneur

Guaranteed Results

A money-back guarantee works great for retailers, but what if you own a service business? According to Peter Geisheker of The Geisheker Group, a marketing company in Green Bay, Wisconsin, a guarantee is a great sales tool. Geisheker, 34, launched a money-back guarantee two years ago. "If I say I can do what I do, and I charge for a service, it's my moral obligation to fulfill that agreement," he explains. "I guarantee there will be results, or the client should not have to pay me."

But money-back guarantees can be tricky for some service companies, says Christina Miranda, a partner at New York City's Redpoint Marketing PR: "I would rather keep going until the promised results are delivered instead of returning money," she says.

If you decide to try a guarantee, Miranda offers a few tips to avoid potential pitfalls:

  • Spell out terms specifically so people don't think they can get something without actually having to pay for it.
  • Use guarantees selectively. Miranda says they can be good for new customers, as a sales incentive and to see if the client/provider relationship is a good fit.
  • Promise only what you can control. Because a publicist doesn't have the final say in what stories run, guaranteeing certain coverage, for example, is a bad idea. Says Miranda, "A PR firm [can] guarantee results, but time and flexibility need to be allowed."

Quick Pick:

Looking for a new way to get customer feedback? TouchPoll Inc. in Winter Park, Florida, collects opinion data by stationing attended or unattended touchscreen computers at high-traffic venues like events, museums, aquariums and the like. For roughly $200 per question or $5,900 for a machine and a three-year license, you can ask for feedback on everything from changing your product to what people think of your brand--you can even ask open-ended questions. TouchPoll also provides ZIP codes of respondents and can be customized to collect more personal data, such as e-mail addresses. Feedback is instant, and the company reports attracting as many as 1,000-plus respondents per month on unattended machines.

70%

of consumers have dropped out of customer-loyalty programs because it takes too long to accumulate points.
Statistic Source: Maritz Loyalty Marketing

83%

of U.S. web users have avoided subscribing to an e-newsletter because they don't trust the publisher.
Statistic Source: ReleMail