The immense power of a simple guarantee

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The shortest definition of USP (Unique Selling Proposition) that I know of is:

“What do you uniquely guarantee?”

USP is THE defining question if you are marketing on the Internet.

20 years ago most businesses could afford to be vague about their USP, especially if they were local. If you owned a shoe store and there were only two other shoe stores in town, then if you sold Nike and the other guy sold Converse then that was enough. You probably didn’t even think of it as a USP. It was just a difference. Any difference would do.

The Internet of today is different. Online, you must be unique in all the world.

The question is: “Why should I buy from you, instead of anyone and everyone else?”

If you have a terrific answer to that question, then the entire World Wide Web tilts in your favor.

Those who have a strong answer to that question live the Internet lifestyle dream that everyone dreams about.

Which is: Customers come to you and you don’t have to chase them; you can run your business on your terms, from anywhere; your competitors fear you; and your sales machine is largely automated and runs 24/7. It’s the white picket fence of the 21st century.

Today I’d like to share my favorite guarantee “formula” which is:

IF you are [customer meets qualification] and IF you do [customer’s part of the deal] then with my help THEN you will achieve [result] OR [consequence to me, the vendor].


Two examples:

“IF you join AdWords Boot Camp and IF you enter the contest, follow the instructions and document your progress, THEN your Google campaigns will improve at least 30%; ALSO
IF your sales is at least $1,000 month your sales will increase by at least $10,000 per year…

OR your money back.”

(This offer is current. See

Example #2:

“IF you are accepted into the Bobsled Run and IF you do the homework, THEN if you don’t recoup your investment in 4 months AND if you don’t make a bare minimum of $25,000 more in the next 12 months, you’ll get your money back.

What is "80" and what is "20" for your business right now? Take my 2-minute quiz and I'll show you where you'll get the highest compound interest on your time and money!

Almost any business or product can be molded to fit this guarantee format. However it requires you to define:

1) Exactly who your customer is, and who is not
2) What your customer must do in order to qualify
3) What your customer will achieve
4) What you have to do for the customer to achieve that

Most companies need to adjust their product or service offering to make this work. Mostly they have to define exactly where the risk points are and make absolutely sure they can deliver.

Tom Hoobyar, when he was CEO of ASEPCO, had an incredibly strong guarantee for his pharmaceutical valves. The guarantee said that if the product was ever late or defective, the company would buy and install a competitor’s product. This was a VERY expensive guarantee to service ($40,000 per incident.) Nobody else had the balls to make that strong of a guarantee.

This guarantee altered the very culture of his company. It forced him to create systems that reliably delivered 100% performance. This guarantee was never equaled by his rivals and it ultimately brought him 90% market share in an ultra-conservative market, against competitors that were 100X as big.

Guarantees work!

Perry Marshall

P.S.: A great guarantee / USP also fits in a Google ad. Example:

AdWords Boot Camp
CTR up 30% & $10,000 sales boost
Do Steps Get Results or Money Back

Can you use a simple guarantee to re-invent your ad campaign from the Google ad on down, and put your business on steroids? I bet you can….

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About the Author

Perry Marshall has launched two revolutions in sales and marketing. In Pay-Per-Click advertising, he pioneered best practices and wrote the world's best selling book on Google advertising. And he's driven the 80/20 Principle deeper than any other author, creating a new movement in business.

He is referenced across the Internet and by Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, INC and Forbes Magazine.

11 Comments on “The immense power of a simple guarantee”

  1. Perry,
    You got me. I have enrolled in your Boot Camp because of your guarantee. I have been trying to grow my business for quite a while and am very curious how someone can make the guarantee that you made, without knowing anything about me or my business. Sounds crazy to me. I am the total skeptic, but yet, completely committed to “doing my homework” because if you actually come through with your promise, I’ll be ecstatic and wanting to do more and more. Class starts in the morning so I am documenting my mindset here – so I can follow-up after the course is over and whether I am seeing results. I hope my skepticism is completely unfounded. Let’s get to work.

    All the best,

    Fred Boucher
    Full Swing Textiles, Inc.

  2. Adam,

    That first paragraph to you was supposed to read “I’m SURE I will get 3 books that explode my head. But I will put the Talent Code at the top of my reading list”

    Another killer USP is by Gyutae Park of He says if you read his free ebook and don’t get 3 great ideas, he’ll send you $50 via PayPal.

  3. Perry and Adam,

    Customer involvement to prevent returns… an elegant solution to a potentially disastrous problem. I never thought of it that way.


    I accept your challenge. I won’t take you up on your guarantee, because I’m SURE but I will put The Talent Code on my reading list.

    By the way, I like your style. You aren’t afraid to be blunt… you and I are going to get along really well…


  4. Raza-

    I know exactly what you’ll be doing today or by tommorow. And mind you, I ain’t a mind reader.

    You’re going to buy The Talent Code By Daniel Coyle.

    If you do, you’ll learn what 10K really means.

    If you do, you’ll get at least 3 new ideas that will rock your world.

    If you read The Talent Code By Daniel Coyle and don’t understand what 10k is all about, AND, you don’t get at least 3 ideas that rock your world, I’ll paypal 2x times the book cost, plus round trip gas and parking.

    I’m CHALLENGING you.

    100% honest. Test ME.

    I dare YOU!

    Offer ends June 2, 2009.


  5. Perry
    I found this article so inspiring I am going to try it RIGHT NOW! I do have a guarantee in place at present, but with a lot more wiggle room!
    At present I am amending my website and adwords ad to demonstrate my new USP! I will keep you updated as to progress!
    Andrea Drew
    Melbourne Australia

  6. Perry,

    This was a great article. I really enjoyed the simplicity of it. I’ve noticed you share these templates and I read your book and noticed the same.

    Definitely have enjoyed your materials. They have saved me a lot of time (you taught me adwords!) learning new technology.


    Brad Spencer

  7. Lots of salespeople have a hard time keeping their pipeline full. Prospecting can be really hard sometime. A strong USP is the most effective thing to build your sales pipeline. Once it’s full, you can apply your own filters and pick the best clients… those with the highest chance of buying from you and succeeding with your product. I have two points:


    The problem is these guarantees start to become ubiquitous. For example, if you put up an ad for software development on Craigslist, you’ll get 50 emails from offshore vendors saying “2 weeks of free work, if you don’t like it, you don’t pay” After you get 10 of these emails, your BS filter goes up. The “USP” seems salesy and cheap. It makes you wonder how seriously the vendor values themselves.

    A strong USP, that challenges me as a customer, WILL get my attention. Your qualifier “IF you do the homework” challenges me and makes me take your offer seriously. Marketers need to understand this.


    It seems to me that a conditional guarantee is harder to do on a product. For example, if you’re selling a stain removal product, and your guarantee is “will remove any stain in 3 applications” how do you as a marketer actually know if the customer used it as they were supposed to? How do you deal with an influx of buyers because of your guarantee who end up returning the product because they didn’t use it like they were supposed to? Is this just a cost of doing business, or is there a smart way around this problem?


    1. Raza,

      The more sophisticated your product, the more easily you can challenge your customer to meet some criteria. You can always say, “If you try removing the stain using technique 1, and 2, and 3, and it doesn’t work, then tell us what happened and we’ll give you your money back.” You are now at least requiring the customer to tell you what happened. Which more than half the time probably causes him to try something he otherwise might have skipped. Point being: The guarantee stimulates customer involvement.


  8. Hmmmmm. And whoz been goin crazy over USP’s? ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    How has your google ad preformed?

    And Perry, in your free time (hahahaha), if you have not read The Talent Code By Daniel Coyle, you should. It makes Outliers seem like T-Ball compared to Coyle’s MLB version.

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