At a superficial level, it’s the fear of giving money back or doing something again. It’s hard enough to make a living in business. Any step back, however small, feels like putting a foot on the slippery slope to insolvency.
Yet I realise guarantees build trust and make it easier for customers to buy.
At a deeper level, I think it’s the definition of ‘guarantee’ that freaks me out. If I buy a $60 clothes airer from a hardware store and a strut snaps during assembly, I can get a new one or a refund. Copywriting is a bit more involved.
Unlike a clothes airer, there are many and diverse ways to craft good copy. Even with a strong brief, my perspective might not match the client’s. In addition, final approval for copywriting always rests with the client. This isn’t ‘all care no responsibility’ but simple task demarcation. I’m responsible for the writing. The client is responsible for publication.
Caveats aside, let’s say I write 300 words for a 3 column x 12 cm job ad in a newspaper. With briefing, research, editing and proofing, this might take me 4 hours. Here are some post-publication possibilities:
1. I make an apostrophe error. Though few notice it, the client is as pedantic as I am. Do I refund my entire fee, an amount proportional to the error (i.e. 1/300th), or something in between?
2. I write BUM instead of BOM. The ad is for a $200K Supply Chain Director, so it looks really bad. Do I refund more than my fee to compensate the client for this embarrassment? The ad cost $5K to put in the paper. How far do I go?
3. My ad reads well, but I make the selection criteria too weak. The client is swamped with 2000 applications. Do I pay for five people to spend the weekend sifting through the resumes?
4. My ad is compelling and the client hires the outstanding candidate. Alas, he turns out to be an axe murderer. Am I liable for writing words that attracted this undesirable to the pool?
Reading this, I realise I need to know a lot more about guarantees. So what do you think? What if your:
Pizza doesn’t satisfy me?
Mediation session doesn’t relax me?
Cartoon calendar doesn’t amuse me?
Tax advice doesn’t enrich me?
IT service doesn’t unfrazzle me?
Is it my problem, or yours? Why?
If it’s your problem, what are you going to do about it?
Your comment will be greatly appreciated: guaranteed!
Paul Hassing, Founder & Senior Writer, www.thefeistyempire.com