The Fear of Commitment: Why ‘No Obligation’ Is Music to Your Customers’ Ears

We live in a world with endless options and opportunities: where to live, where to eat, where to travel. Things to do, things to see…

…Things to buy. 

With so many options (and many at their fingertips), why would customers want to commit to something? They wouldn’t. And often don’t. After all, having too many options is overwhelming. Throw in a long-term commitment, and you add an element of fear to the mix: the fear of choosing the wrong thing and being trapped.

So, how can you calm your customers’ fears of commitment? You can start with a few business strategies and marketing buzzwords, like “no obligation.”

Attracting customers who are afraid of commitment

Whether it’s fear of buying a house or a new pair of sneakers, consumers have a real fear of committing to purchases. Why? Every purchase comes with a little bit of risk (even if that risk is a couple of bucks lost on a subpar new yogurt flavor).

There are four main types of risks consumers face when making a purchasing decision:

  1. Financial risks (losing money).
  2. Performance risks (product not working).
  3. Time risks (wasting time).
  4. Social risks (going with a brand that isn’t good enough).

Some buying decisions trigger all four types of risks while others may only trigger one or two. As a business owner and marketing extraordinaire, it’s your job to show customers how you mitigate each type of risk.

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Here’s a closer look at how you can attract customers who are afraid of commitment by alleviating risks.

1. Use commitment-free buzzwords in your marketing

Include certain risk mitigation buzzwords in your customer emails, on your website and social media pages, and in your storefront.

Buzzwords that emphasize your commitment to a stress-free experience include:

  • Try before you buy.
  • No obligation.
  • Free trial.
  • See a demo.
  • No-strings-attached.
  • Money-back guarantee.
  • Satisfaction guarantee.
  • Free shipping on returns.
  • Free setup.

Using phrases like “no obligation” reminds buyers of something that’s music to their ears—they still have options if they’re unhappy.

2. Revisit the contract concept

Ah, contracts. Love ’em or hate ’em, they’re standard in many businesses. But if you want to appeal to consumers who are afraid of commitment, you may consider eliminating contracts or providing a contract-free option.

Of course, this step doesn’t apply to all businesses. So if it doesn’t apply to you, feel free to skip to the next tip.

Contracts may be good for companies. For consumers? Not so much—even if they’re locking into a good rate.

So if you want to give your target audience a little more flexibility, consider adding another plan option to your offerings that’s contract-free.

Let’s say you want to offer a contract option and a month-to-month option that’s commitment-free. You could give customers a discount on the 12-month contract plan to entice customers to sign up for it. But, you’d also give customers the option to choose a month-to-month plan. Win-win. Your pricing structure could look like this:

  • Month-to-month: $50/month ($600 for 12 months)
  • 12-year contract: $550 ($50 savings!)

3. Help customers save time

Again, time commitment is one of the top purchase risks. And when you think about it, most purchases are pretty time-consuming.

For example, think about the process of buying a TV—you probably spend time:

  • Comparing options.
  • Buying the TV.
  • Loading the TV into the car.
  • Getting the TV set up in your home.
  • Enjoying the TV (yay!).

And if things go south with said TV, you spend more time on:

  • Loading the TV back into the car.
  • Returning the TV.
  • Waiting for your refund.

Exhausting, isn’t it? Consumers invest a lot of time on a good purchase, and even more on a bad purchase. It’s no wonder that new purchases can be so intimidating.

Help customers who have a fear of committing too much time by saving them time. You can do this through customer service, a website with a good user experience, personalized shopping experiences, tailored marketing materials, and an easy checkout.

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4. Share reviews

Nothing helps mitigate social risks like social proof. Social proof is a concept where people are more inclined to do something that others have done or are doing. Buyers want to know what kind of experience others have had—good or bad—before committing to a business. Cue the reviews.

Reviews help consumers get an in-depth understanding of the kind of experience they can expect without having to commit to it themselves. In fact, the majority of buyers read and trust reviews:

  • 98% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses.
  • 93% of consumers said online reviews influenced their purchase decisions.
  • 92.4% are more likely to make a purchase after reading a trusted review.

Want to ease the fear of purchasing through user reviews? Here are a few ways to get started:

  • Ask customers to leave reviews.
  • Respond to both positive and negative customer reviews.
  • Show off detailed reviews on your website.

5. Flaunt your credentials

Some buyers are scared to commit to a product or service, especially if buying from a new business. To ease some of the fear of commitment, show customers who you are and why you’re trustworthy.

Sure, telling customers they’re under no obligation to buy from you is one thing. But showing them you mean it—and they can trust you—is another. You can start with a strong online presence that highlights your credibility and trustworthiness (aka flaunt your credentials).

On your website, consider adding an “About” section that establishes you and your business as credible. You might include the following to show who you are and why you started your business:

  • Business history.
  • Team bios.
  • Photos.

Easing customer fears throughout the buying journey

Skimmed to the end? No worries. Here’s a quick look at examples of how you can mitigate each type of buying risk:

  • Financial risks
    • Refunds
    • Contract-free options
  • Performance risks
    • Credibility
    • Try before you buy
  • Time risks
    • Free setup
    • Easy checkout experience
  • Social risks
    • Reviews

At the end of the day, you’re never going to be able to remove all of the risks associated with purchases. But by recognizing risks (financial, performance, time and social) and showing customers how your business mitigates each, you can make strides to ease buyers’ minds.

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