Present Secrets

Are testimonials passé?

If you’re selling any kind of product
where testimonials or science
seem important, this is for you.

Years ago, Mr. Claude Hopkins was hired
to create demand for an unknown over-the-counter
cough remedy. He noted that his client’s product
was nowhere available,
and that similar established products
all already had “thousands of testimonials.”

He continues…

“My duty was to create a demand which would bring the
sales to the drugstore. Not a bottle was in drug stores”
when he began his campaign.

Worse “every medicine-type maker had thousands of

Here’s what Mr. Hopkins did to stand out. He
created a promo that:

1) did NOT talk about how great
his product was,
2) did not detail what was in it or
3) did not tell how great the Doctor
was, who created it.

Instead, Hopkins came up with
a cleverly worded guarantee:

“If it brings the results we promise, it is
worth many times its cost. If it fails, it is free.”

Can you imagine offering that exact
guarantee to your audience?

Results?  A huge success.

He writes, “No cough remedy on the market
could compete with that.  Others made claims
and promises (and gave testimonials) but we
offered certainty. And we secured most of the
trade.My Life in Advertising, Claude Hopkins.
(bf added – kk)

Free if it doesn’t do what
we say.  Who needs testimonials with that?
Who cares how old the company is with
that certainty?

Want to test that, dear readers?  Report back.
If what you’re doing now isn’t making sales, are
you ready for something new that blew the
roof off?

About the author

Kim Klaver


  • Hi Paul,

    Well now you can see one difference. With every company making big claims – no doubt everyone of them has a big story for their product – a normal person has no
    way to determine what to buy. They all say, “Buy mine it’s the best.”

    With this clever approach, Mr. Hopkins’ product took over the market. It’s amazing. And testimonials, though no doubt true for each company, have even less effect today than they did 50 years ago. And still everyone uses them, hoping…

    Now it’s gotten so bad the FTC says you can’t make any health claims anymore. Or income claims. Still people keep using them…Sigh. At least this is an alternative.

    • T Manley,

      You write, “Kim, could you comment on the phrase ‘results we promise’ and the idea of not making promises?”

      Say you are telling someone you market a fat loss product that has helped
      you. If they ask, “will it work for me?” you can offer the standard, “Well I don’t know if it will work for you or not…But what if it does?
      (pause) AND, if it doesn’t, it’s free.”

      So it can fit right in…even though YOU didn’t make a promise about what the other person could lose, the fact that you are marketing something called a “fat loss” product or program suggests it should help a person do that. So just add that last bit above and you’ll have the guarantee right in there. For the perceived (though not explicitly made) promise.

  • We’ve been selling on the Internet now for almost 5 years and this is what we have as our refund policy: EASY Money Back Guarantee
    After you purchase anything at our online health food store, if you feel that it doesn’t live up to your expectations, simply return any unused merchandise within 30 days and we’ll give you a full refund of the purchase price on those items, or exchange for items of full equal value.

    In 5 years we’ve had 3 people return product. We move about 20k of product per month-so 3 people is nothing! In the wellness business you will always run into those who say they want to be well but are not willing to make any changes to his/her lifestyle or use the products as suggested. We all know that products don’t work if you don’t use them!

    • Good for you. It is a real pleasure seeing someone doing as well as you are, and offering a guarantee if the customer does not like the product. Again, good for you. It’s great reading this.

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