What is risk reversal and why should you consider implementing it into your business marketing? 

It’s natural to always try and present your business in the most favorable light possible when marketing yourself.

However, this often leads to one of the most common marketing blunders – discussing only the positive aspects of doing business with you.

Avoiding the elephant in the room – the risks associated with buying from you, is a rookie mistake.

So part of your marketing plan needs to include how you’ll reverse the risk of buying from your business. 


The amygdala is the fear part of our brain. It governs our reactions to events that are important for our survival. And it stimulates fear to warn us of imminent danger.

If you’re being followed at night by a suspicious looking individual and your heart is pounding, that’s your amygdala doing its job. That’s good.

However, the amygdala in your prospect’s brain can also stop them from buying from you. That’s bad.

When a prospect considers buying from you, their amygdala is making a judgment call about the potential risks involved.

The risk being evaluated by the amygdala may be as trivial as a bad tasting latte. Or it could be as severe as an untimely death on an operating table.

Either way, the risk evaluation is always going on in the background. As a business owner and marketer you need to understand that.

If you skirt around this issue in your marketing, you allow the amygdala in your prospect’s brain to run wild and potentially kill the sale.

Given that this risk evaluation will happen whether you like it or not, why not participate in it. 

Give yourself the best chance of addressing any potential deal breakers before they get a chance to damage your bottom line?


Traditional selling tells us to overcome objections. However, in reality, objections are rarely voiced. 

Instead in polite society, we say nonsense things like, “let me think about it.” Our amygdala is actually screaming “let’s get out of here”.

Part of the job of good sales copy is to tell potential prospects who your product or service is NOT for. 

There are three very good reasons you should do this.

  1. It filters out people who aren’t part of your target market  Or those who wouldn’t be a good fit for what you have to offer. This ensures you don’t waste your time on low quality, low probability prospects. It also reduces the number of refunds and complaints from customers who misunderstood what they bought.
  2. It immediately makes it more credible when you tell them who this product is for. It feels much more even-handed when you cover both angles by telling them who it is for and who it isn’t for.
  3. The prospects who it is for will feel the product or service is much more tailored to their needs. Versus if you had said your product is for anyone and everyone. It feels more targeted and exclusive.


You’ve set the scene by telling them who it’s not for. Now you need to address the risk element for the prospects who are a good fit.

The first time I saw tasting spoons at an ice creamery, I finally realized just how truly risk averse we all are. 

Here potential ice cream buyers hold up a queue of people behind them while they taste test several flavors with tiny plastic spoons. All this is to ensure that the flavor of ice cream they commit to buying doesn’t disappoint.

This needs to be more powerful than something ordinary and lame like “money back guarantee” or “satisfaction guaranteed”.

By having something to lose if it doesn’t work out, you have an easier path to the sale. You’ll much more easily avoid alarm bells set off by the amygdala in your prospect’s brain. 

A practical example OF REVERSING RISK

Sometimes the best way to understand risk reversal is to see it in action. So here goes. If I’m wanting to hire an IT company for my business what sort of things might I fear? 

  • Are they going to send some junior technician who’ll fluff about for hours as he learns on the job while I get billed a premium hourly rate for the privilege?
  • Are they going to be available when I urgently need support?
  • Will the problems they fix continue to recur?
  • Are they going to bamboozle me with geek speak when I request an explanation of work performed or needed?

A risk reversal guarantee for this type of business might look like: 

“We guarantee that our certified and experienced IT consultants will fix your IT problems so they don’t recur. They’ll also return your calls within 15 minutes and will always speak to you in plain English. If we don’t live up to any of these promises, we insist that you tell us and we’ll credit back to your account double the billable amount of the consultation.”

Compare that to a weak and vague guarantee like, “satisfaction guaranteed”.

Is this kind of guarantee risky? 

Only if you consistently do a crappy job. If you are committed to giving your customers excellent service and train your staff accordingly, then there is almost zero risk for you. 

More importantly, there’s almost zero risk for your prospects. This will  make closing sales much easier.

Indeed the law often requires that you provide warranties as to the quality of your products and services and make things right if they fall short.

So given this is likely already a legal requirement, why not up the ante and make it a feature you promote in your marketing?


A smart entrepreneur will look at their business from the eyes of a fearful, skeptical prospect and reverse all the perceived risks so that the path to the sale is much smoother.

This will also result in customers who are much more sticky and who won’t fall for your competitors who by comparison seem much more risky to deal with.

How can you implement The Risk Reversal Strategy in your business today?


If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy our article on What is Direct Response Marketing? As a small business owner, it’s the smarter way to market your business. 

3 thoughts on “USE The Risk Reversal Strategy TO SKYROCKET SALES & DESTROY YOUR COMPETITORS”

  1. Ravindra Kathale

    Telling them who it is not for is essential from another angle. It forces the entrepreneur think thoroughly his target group or define his niche. This exercise can potentially force him to chisel his product / service so that it fits perfectly with the real target client.

    ‘Risk Reversal’, the plain old guarantee or warranty, as you rightly say go a long way assuring the customer / client. Another thing is, in practice, very few unsatisfied customers / clients bother to take the trouble of invoking them.

    Thanks for a good post.

    — Ravindra Kathale

  2. 1. “…tell potential prospects who your product or service is NOT for” versus “makes it more credible when you tell them who this product is for.”

    In your example you tell the prospect clients who your service/product is for. That is quite easy to do.
    I would love an example where you tell a prospect client that your product or service is NOT for them. That would be a bold practical example / confronting the elephant in the room; …And don’t tell me that by telling who is it for the other ones will understand by implication that is not for them…

    2. “Risk reversal means that if the product or service doesn’t work our for the prospect, you’ll have something to lose. Not the customer”
    You didn’t have that customer’s business to start with so you didn’t have what to loose anyway. Most likely you will avoid the complaints and refunds.

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