Money-back ROI guarantee nets BigHand business

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BigHand is a digital dictation software provider that sells to decision-makers at law firms with titles such as firm administrator, CFO, CIO or CTO. The software allows users to dictate directly to their network via the Web or using a handheld recorder, head set or mobile device. Among the system's selling points are that it can help users streamline their digital dictation work flow and save money—an attractive prospect to law firms forced to cut support staff during the recession. Last September, as the economic situation became increasingly dire, the company decided to launch its “Money Back ROI Guarantee” campaign.

“The downturn had kicked in severely [at that point], and we wanted to find a way to mitigate risk for enterprise technology buyers—those buyers for whom budget was ultra-tight and approval on IT spending would be even more difficult to get than usual,” said Dan Speed, VP-marketing for BigHand, London.

In talking with its consultants and implementation engineers, BigHand determined that its technology pays for itself. “We decided to say that if our technology didn't return the investment that buyers had made within six months, they could have their money back—no conditions whatsoever,” Speed said. “It really was a show of faith in our own system.”

Objective: BigHand, a provider of digital dictation software, wanted to leverage its strongest selling points—that it can streamline dictation work flow and save users money—during the recession.

Strategy: The company launched a “Money Back ROI Guarantee” campaign, promising customers they could have their money back if BigHand's technology didn't return the investment they had made within six months. The company promoted the guarantee with direct mail, e-mail and point-of-sale materials.

Results: The campaign doubled BigHand's conversion rates and provided a seven-figure return on business closed.

Demonstrating how a product will drive ROI is very important in the current economic climate, said Jobst Elster, VP of, a legal technology vendor community operated by Envision Agency, which assisted BigHand with messaging and publicity for the effort. (Loewy Group, London, handled creative for the campaign.) “In the past, a lot of products and services may have been sold based on law firms' wants rather than needs,” he said. “If you look at things now, any new purchases being made are obviously being scrutinized a lot more than they used to be.”

To publicize the money-back guarantee, BigHand relied on direct mail, e-mail and point-of-sale materials shared by salespeople meeting with prospects. “We deliberately kept it a very exclusive, one-to-one delivered piece,” Speed said. “We felt that any sort of advertising or online ads would present the offer as an out-and-out promotion. We wanted to almost hand deliver this promotion to prospects to ensure they realized it was an exclusive and quite substantial sales offer for them.”

The campaign ran from September 2008 until March of 2009. It doubled BigHand's conversion rates, Speed said, and provided a seven-figure return in terms of business closed.

The money-back offer resonated with prospects because it's unusual for a vendor to assume such risk, Speed said. However, he said, he recognized after the fact that the campaign could pose a certain degree of personal risk for him. “After I came up with it, I suddenly realized that I may not be around for long if all of these clients ask for their money back,” he said. “Fortunately, that didn't happen; and it was a great success.”

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