So you’ve been hearing all the buzz about “value ladders” and wondering whether you need one? Or how to set one up? Well, you’re in the right place my friend, we’re going to walk you through all of that and more! But first, a definition:

What is a value ladder? A value ladder is a lineup of offers that increase in price and value in order to meet people where they are on their journey to become a customer: from initial awareness to their final decision to buy your premium offerings. It’s an effective way for you to build trust and maximize the lifetime value of each customer.

The way it works in a nutshell: you start off by offering something of value for free and then increase the price and value with your subsequent offers.

They’re usually discussed in the context of sales funnels and it can sometimes sound like: “get as much money out of ’em as possible for as long as you can!”

But a business’s first imperative is to get and keep customers, and when you do that, the revenue will follow. So when you’re planning your value, be sure to make your customer’s experience the primary focus.

A value ladder, when executed correctly, is actually interlinked with your brand strategy.  Your lineup of offers is used to build trust and ultimately, inspire brand loyalty. In other words…

You use a value ladder to get and keep customers

Before we get into the details about how to create a value ladder, let’s first take a look at how this all works from the perspective of your customer.

Why You Need A Value Ladder

It’s easy to forget that most of your customers who see your marketing messages aren’t going to sign up instantly. There’s no magical formula that can persuade someone to whip out their credit card and purchase a premium offering if they’re just not ready.

Enter… the value ladder.

It’s a way to meet people where they are in their decision-making process and readiness to commit to a purchase. So let’s talk about what that looks like…

Your customer’s decision-making process to make a purchase

The goal of your brand strategy should be to communicate the reasons why customers should choose you instead of all their other options.

Along the way, your job is to provide value and earn their trust in order to help them make that decision.

(Also known as marketing.)

From your customer’s perspective, the journey looks like this…

When businesses forget that potential clients are going through this process, they do things like drop a bulleted list of capabilities on their services page with a “get a quote” button and call it good.

Which, for all of the people who are just beginning to become aware that they maybe-possibly need help, sounds like this:


Kind of awkward on a first encounter, right?

A value ladder, in contrast, takes prospective clients by the hand from the very first interaction and walks side by side with them as they grow to trust you.

A value ladder guides your clients toward purchasing your premium offers by providing them with smaller offers along the way

Visually, then, it looks something like this…

Customer decision-making process & offers that meet them where they are.

Now, their journey and your offers aren’t always going to line up perfectly like this. For example, people in the consideration phase may sign up for a free offer. But here’s the key takeaway:

Having different offers at various price points means there’s something for everyone.

A little sneak preview for ya here (I’ll get into more detail when we talk about how to create a value ladder), but what we’re essentially going to do now is take the idea of creating different offers as part of the customer journey, and then rotate the customer journey funnel onto its side. And voila! Now it looks like a ladder.

Neat, right? 🙂

A Basic Value Ladder

The ladder is a great metaphor because as you can see, now we can visualize how we’re going to create offers that will increase in price and value and naturally lead from offer one to the next.

The Benefits of a Value Ladder

A value ladder focuses on solving a problem your client is grappling with and gives them options to solve that problem based on their readiness to commit and their budget.

Because you’re the expert, you’ll design service offerings that give them the outcome they desire.

This approach is very different than reacting to a potential client who rolls up and tells you what they think they need and asks you for a quote. They’re not steering the ship here, you are, which is why figuring out what to include in your offers takes a bit of upfront work.

But the advantage is that for you, there’s no recreating the wheel figuring out what each and every potential client wants and preparing time-costly proposals–instead, you’ll be identifying the problem(s) in advance and have solutions to offer them all ready-to-go.

Because it’s your process, and because you’re presenting it like a product (you’re selling whatever is needed for them to get that outcome), you’ll be perceived as the go-to expert rather than an order-taker. And when you do that, it’s easier for people to understand. They’ll come to you to follow your process because you’re offering the outcome they want. Make sense?

Have The Flexibility to Upsell and Downsell Your Offerings

Once you have the steps of your ladder in place, you’ll upsell along the way.

For example, when people buy your low-priced INTRO offer (also known as a tripwire), you can pitch your LEAD offer as a next step. Then, you can present your BULLSEYE premium offer and so on.

You can also experiment with the order!

For example, you might offer something for free — let’s say a webinar — and then pitch them on your highest-ticket offering.

For those customers who don’t buy your high-ticket offer, you can “downsell” by offering them an INTRO or LEAD offer instead. (Which can be set on autopilot with automated follow-up email sequences.)

By having different offerings at varying degrees of value, you’ll have something to offer people based on what they need and how much they’re willing to spend.

Earn The Trust of Hesitant Customers

A tripwire or low-cost offer helped me win clients who were interested in my premium 1-1 services.

I found that 10% of the people who purchased a low-price offer (a $30 eBook) went on to sign up for thousands of dollars in services. In those cases, they were interested in hiring me (closer to the “decision” phase), but they wanted some final reassurance that if they trusted me with their dollars, I’d deliver value.

So they grabbed one of my low-priced offers to “vet” me. Interesting, right?

Here’s where it gets even more interesting…

The price of that product was $30.

When I calculate the lifetime value of a customer who does 1-1 work with me, it works out to about $3,600 per customer. (Some are a few hundred bucks one-and-done and some are tens of thousands over years.)

So for a small investment in my time to create a simple eBook, I’m able to shortcut the time and effort it normally takes to earn the trust of a complete internet stranger and potentially for life. Which is far more than $30, it’s more than 100 times that! (Results will vary of course, but I did want you to see the big picture.)

Not only that…

A Value Ladder Extends The Lifetime Value of a Customer

Because you’re incorporating different offerings into your lineup, you have the potential to extend that lifetime value.

An introductory or low-price offer (which should be a digital product of some kind) can actually be quite profitable and generate an evergreen passive income stream.

A lead service (which I’ll get to in a sec) can help you recapture all the time that slips through the cracks pitching your services to people who are just kicking tires and are never going to get there.

The way I like to think of these initial steps in your ladder is they’re a way to monetize your sales and marketing and leverage your time (so you have more of it to fine-tune your processes and make passive income products!)

You can also extend your premium services by creating “loyalty” offers!

Hopefully, by now you’re chomping at the bit to get started, so let’s get into it…

The Value Ladder

How to Create a Value Ladder

There are many ways to go about it, but here’s a formula you can use to create a basic value ladder. Some value ladders have three steps and some have eight, it really all depends on what you’re offering.

If you offer more than one service line–for example, say you offer web design services and social media management, you would create a separate value ladder for each.

The Value Ladder

Step #1 Free Offer

Definition: The purpose of the free offer is to generate sales leads. Once you’ve identified your ideal client’s problems, you’ll demonstrate your expertise (you’re the one to solve it) by helping them solve their problem (5-10% of the way) with a free offer.

Ground rules: It has to be valuable. Your free offer is going to take the place of you getting on a sales call with them to demonstrate you’re trustworthy and an expert at solving this problem. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be valuable, quite the opposite.

Examples: Blog posts, a free e-book, checklists, swipe files, worksheets, how-to videos, audio exercises, a free introductory course, a webinar, etc.

This is how you’re going to get people to your website, but keep in mind that as people are going through their decision-making process and figuring out whether you’re the one to trust, it may take interacting with your brand 10-15 times or more before they’re ready to commit.

Having free content as an incentive to interact with you isn’t a magic sales bullet, it’s used to build trust. Make it valuable and focus on solving their problems, and when they’re ready to commit with dollars, you’ll be the one they turn to…

This is called reciprocity.

The idea is that when you’re providing value for free, your audience will begin to feel grateful for your help and even indebted to you. When deciding who to choose, they’ll be much more likely to go with you because you’ve already helped them solve their problem part of the way for free.

Step #2 Intro Offer

Definition: An intro offer is a low-priced offering that solves the problem a little bit more than your free offering

Ground rules: Again, it must be valuable. You’re still nurturing trust and establishing yourself as the go-to expert. Make sure it solves a specific problem and you’ve clearly articulated the outcome they can expect when they purchase it. The price should be set somewhere between $7-$49. Important: it should not require your time working 1-1 with clients.

Examples: eBook, paid workshop/webinar, an email challenge, a mini-course

Your intro offer isn’t designed to make a profit, but rather, to offset the costs of creating it and promoting it. The goal is to create a customer as quickly as possible so you can lead them to the next step, which is…

To learn more, we have an entire blog post devoted to setting up an intro offer (or tripwire) right here.

Step #3 Lead Offer

Definition: Your lead offer requires a larger financial commitment but it includes a much greater value. Here, you can begin offering 1-1 services that require your time, or, if you’re selling digital products, it will be a higher-priced offering than your tripwire but still less than your high-ticket offerings. This offer should be designed to be profitable.

Ground rules: Focus your lead offer on a specific outcome or “quick win” you can give your clients.

It must solve a problem and not create one. For example, if you’re designing a 1-1 service, an “audit” creates problems (“here are all the things you need to fix, have fun!”) whereas a road mapping or strategy session solves one (“here are your biggest opportunities and next steps”).

You should strive to create a service that allows you to replicate the process you’ll guide your clients through (no re-creating the wheel). This way, you can become better (more expert at solving this problem) and more efficient (and more profitable) the more you do it.

Things to consider:

  • What aspects of your process are you currently doing for free that you can monetize instead?
  • Is there an aspect of your larger high-ticket services you can “break apart” as a first step?

Examples: Road-mapping session, a done-for-you playbook or strategy, an introductory course, 1-1 coaching/consulting to achieve a specific result

Step #4 Bullseye Offer

Definition: A bullseye offer (or a “core offer”) is something we go into more detail about in The Bullseye Offer Formula, but basically this is where you pull out all the stops and do whatever you need to do to solve your customer’s biggest problem.

Ground rules: It should be priced based on the value of the outcome and really, the sky’s the limit. It’s your process and ideally, should utilize your zone of genius, the expertise you want to become known for. It must also be something your dream clients already know they need.

Examples: This is a high-priced offer–either a more comprehensive course or done-for-you 1-1 services.

Guiding people to a bullseye offer is where most people call it good, but to maximize the lifetime value of a customer, you can also create a…

BONUS (Step #5): Loyalty Offer

Definition: A loyalty offer extends the value of your signature offer by offering ongoing or ancillary services and digital products that continue to help them solve their problems.

Ground rules: Your loyalty offer provides you with ongoing revenue and allows you to create an ongoing relationship with your customers. These may be priced lower than your signature offer, but extends value over time.

Examples: Ongoing done-for-you services, a mastermind group, weekly group coaching calls, private paid Facebook group or slack channel, a membership site, subscription-based content, additional digital products, and courses to help them continue on their problem-solving journey, annual workshops or retreats.

Variations to Your Value Ladder

Again, the above is just an example to get you thinking about offering value along your customer’s journey. Every business is different and you may find that creating three steps is enough: maybe a freebie offer, an introductory offer, and a premium or signature service offering.

Maybe you’ll want six or seven steps in your ladder. You might decide to create two or three signature offers and a value ladder for each. Maybe you won’t have a signature service at all, maybe it makes more sense for you to create multiple introductory offers and then get people right into a loyalty offer.

Inside our course, we walk our students through the four key steps of the value ladder as a starting point, starting with the Bullseye Offer. Once you know where you’re leading people to, it becomes a “no-brainer” to create a logical, related line-up of offers that lead people to your premium 1-1 services.

Value Ladder
Create a bullseye offer first, then your lineup of offers

In summary

A value ladder helps make marketing your services easier. It allows you to earn trust, scale your business by increasing the lifetime value of a customer, and move away from selling your services like a commodity.

A commodity has no differentiated qualities; a brand is the opposite of a commodity and focuses on the value you can provide your customer. So in a way, the value ladder is just a framework for you to build your brand.

By creating different degrees of value-based offers corresponding where your customers are at in the decision-making process, you’re not only better positioned to get and keep clients but to maximize profit and lifetime customer value as well.

If you have any questions, hit us up in the comments and be sure to grab our FREE value ladder planner below!


“Tripwire” is one of those jargon terms that make even our most hardcore marketing friends cringe, but there’s no denying they’re a powerful tool for creating sales funnels that convert.

If you’re interested in building a list filled with eager-to-buy customers rather than just freebie-collecting subscribers, and if you’re looking for a way to add passive revenue streams to your business, stick around as we walk through how to use tripwires to do just that.

But first, if you’re wondering, “What is a tripwire?”  let’s start by breaking down some basic definitions in real-human lingo…

What is a Tripwire Funnel?

A tripwire is an irresistible low-cost offer (usually a digital product priced at $49 or less) that’s designed to turn a member of your audience into a customer quickly.

Irresistible because the perceived value is much greater than the price and it solves a painful problem for your customer.

At ConversionMinded, we stick to a rule of “$49 or less” but often our tripwires are priced much lower in the $7-$22 range. For our B2B audience, this fits squarely into the “impulse purchase” price range.

If the price is less than the value of having that problem solved, there’s very little anxiety around their decision to buy without doing a ton of research and taking time to consider, so they’re more likely to take action the moment they see the offer.

Say you offer a coaching package or digital course priced at $2,000. That’s a pretty big financial commitment (especially for people who don’t know what it’s like to be your customer yet). Your customer will need to compare all their options, do a bit of digging to figure out exactly what to expect, and psychologically process all of their objections before feeling confident about spending that money.

A product that’s priced very low is a less-risky first step. So maybe for you, that first offer comes in the form of a $25 workbook that helps your target audience inch closer toward their goals as they relate to your coaching program.

Once your customer “converts” (makes that initial purchase), you can continue to nurture the relationship with them through automated email sequences, webinars, and other marketing tactics to guide them toward your premium offers. But now, after getting a sample of the value they can expect when they give you money, they know they can trust you if they make another purchase.

A tripwire is the first step in a larger funnel that guides customers toward an additional or larger purchase. It’s about getting a cold audience to take a leap of faith and to put it crudely, “pull out their wallets.”

Because the decision to trust you with their money has already been made, you can also offer them something else that will help them solve this problem even more during the checkout process. Your second offer might be an “upsell” to a complementary product or an “upgrade” to a larger package.

Or, if you’re selling services or high-ticket programs and courses, your “pitch” might happen after you nurture the relationship with emails and other content so they can get to know you and your approach a little better first, but you want to do this immediately by automating your follow up emails because this is when they’re going to be most engaged and will be actively looking for solutions.

Think of it like “stacking” one offer on top of another in a way that helps your customer solve a specific problem or achieve a desired outcome.

Either way, if your tripwire is hyper-relevant to your other offerings, it’s a very effective way to attract the right people into those funnels.

Why You Need A Tripwire (No Matter What You Sell)

When someone makes a purchase there is an exchange of value (their money in exchange for your solution) and that changes the relationship. That psychological shift is the key to understanding the purpose of a tripwire.

Once someone trusts you with their cold, hard cash and you deliver value in return, they’re no longer a total stranger, they’re a satisfied customer.

And a satisfied customer is exponentially more likely to take you up on another offer (even a much more expensive offer!) than someone who has never made a purchase before.

In other words, a tripwire fast-tracks the customer journey.

For that reason, it’s a good idea to use a tripwire to introduce your brand to new customers whether you’re selling services, courses, digital products, or even physical goods online.

The Role A Tripwire Plays in Your Larger Marketing Strategy

Let’s talk about the “value ladder” — more marketing lingo, I know, but this is a goodie because it’s a visual metaphor for exactly what you’re aiming for, so it’ll help you remember it and put it into practice.

Avalue ladder is simply a series of offers that guides people from complete internet strangers (“who are you again?”) to loyal customers and raving fans.

The idea is that each of your offers will increase in price and value so you can meet your audience where they are in their decision-making process (to hire you or make a purchase).

As we’ve covered, when they first encounter you, it’s highly unlikely they’re going to be ready to commit to a high-ticket purchase. They’re just starting to become aware of the problem they’re experiencing and options to solve it.

The customer decision-making phases

At the awareness stage, they’re probably only willing to invest a bit of their time to read a blog post. Then, if the blog post was valuable to them, they’ll likely be willing to give you their email in exchange for a free offer. And deeper into your marketing funnel they go…

A Tripwire is a Bridge Between Your Free Content and Your Marketing Emails

Now, what most people do at this point (after your audience subscribes to your list) is to start sending out newsletters to “stay in touch” hoping someday, eventually, their subscribers will be ready to take the next steps. And that’s fine, we do that too, but we all know the chances are very likely that this person will be one of the 75-80% who, on average, doesn’t even open your emails.

Enter the tripwire.

By making an irresistible offer right away, a percentage of those people who sign up for your list will become a customer immediately. And that’s magical because a customer is something entirely different than a random person who doesn’t know or trust you who just signed up for your list to grab a freebie.

Now, before you start getting dollar signs in your eyes…

A Tripwire Builds Trust & Brand-Loyal Customers

Yes, you can make money selling tripwires. (Some people make a lot.) But always remember that the most valuable role your tripwire plays is to earn trust. So come at it from that angle and make that your primary goal. You might even think of the revenue it generates as the cherry on top.

Always remember “if they don’t trust you, they ain’t buyin'” so establishing trust and credibility is crucial for larger ticket sales, repeat business, and customer loyalty.

If you offer some flimsy cheapo thing that doesn’t have a whole lot of value, they might not be too upset if they didn’t pay a lot for it. But be careful here because if the value doesn’t exceed the price they paid for it, you’ve blown your chance to retain a customer for life and maximize revenue in the long run.

Because it’s exponentially cheaper to keep a customer you have than acquire a new one, tripwires are a great way to build a list of buyers. Once you’ve established trust with a customer, they’re exponentially more likely to buy something else (even a high ticket offer).

So you want to be thinking in terms of your lifetime value of a customer, not a one-off low-ticket sale.

In the following value ladder illustration, I’m calling the tripwire an “intro offer.”

This offer represents the first time you’re putting a price tag on the value you provide –it’s higher in value than your free offers (blog posts, freebies, webinars, etc.) but less than your high ticket programs, products, courses, or 1-1 services.

It needs to be a digital product of some kind (not a discounted consultation or service) so you’re able to scale and make the best use of your time. That is, it needs to be a 100% automated and passive thing working for you in the background.

Where the tripwire offer fits into your value ladder

Want some help launching your first (or next) digital product? Grab our Digital Product Launch Blueprint! ?

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The Benefits of Using A Tripwire

Tripwires Help You Build A More Target Emal List

Because you’re taking a shortcut in the customer journey by turning them into a customer right away, that means you’re able to more easily build a list of customers rather than a list of anonymous strangers who are just there to consume your free content and peace out.

Tripwires Provide a Way for Hesitant Customers to Vet You Before Investing More Money

This is an unexpected surprise I learned about tripwires after implementing them to make a bit of extra passive income…

I figured people would buy them as part of the natural flow of a very simple marketing funnel: blog post > opt-in freebie > tripwire offer.

But what I didn’t expect was that people who were considering me for my higher-priced 1-1 services were purchasing my low-cost digital products as a way of sussing me out. My tripwires were intel for them!

I know that because time after time, I’d get on a sales call and the person on the other end would kick things off with, “So I read your ebook!”

Sometimes what they purchased had nothing to do with what they wanted to hire me for. They just wanted to know if they gave me money they’d get value in return.

I realized they had been eyeing the top rung of my value ladder (my premium services) and decided to skip back down to the low-priced offer as a way to overcome final objections and lingering doubts.

And that? Makes sense. Whatever works. 🙂

You Can Use Tripwires to Gauge Interest in Larger Offers You’re Thinking About Creating

You can get creative with tripwires and use them to validate other ideas you have for larger product or service offerings. That is, create the tripwire first and then create more offers for your funnel if it works out.

Say you have an idea to create a product about branding and you outline all the things people need help with when they’re doing their own branding project.

What you can do to “test the waters” of interest in your course or product is to create a smaller digital product that relates to it and solves a very narrow, specific problem.

To get ideas you’ll start by brainstorming all those problems…

“How do I come up with my brand name?”
“What colors should I use for my branding?”
“What fonts should I choose for my branding?”
“How do I create a logo?”
“Do I need a tagline? What even is a tagline?”

From this list, you might choose the problem of selecting great fonts to use in a branding project. Cool. But that’s still a pretty broad topic, right? That is, you don’t want to create a typography course, that would be solving the problem too far and you don’t want to get too carried away. ?

So think about…

How can you offer a quick win? What kind of tool or training could you create to help your audience quickly choose fonts for their branding project?

This is the exact process I went through when I came up with the idea for The Font Personality Swipe file, one of my very first tripwires. I included 75 Google Font combinations categorized by brand personality and I priced it at $7.

I just offered a quick win for one very specific problem. People struggling to choose brand fonts can use this swipe file to find options that will work for them.

I knew that if people gobbled that up? I could continue solving their problem further. That little $7 download sold really well so I invested a bit more time in creating a larger product – the Brand with Confidence Toolkit which, no surprise, also sold really well and continues to. Because the tripwire sold well I knew there was a pretty good chance solving that problem further would be a winner.

Tripwires can be a great way to understand your audience and what they need help with and they shouldn’t cost you a lot of time to put together.

Plus, even if a tripwire flops, chances are good you’re going to make some sales to offset the costs of creating it. You would be surprised how helpful even a $7 product can be for your bottom line when you give it enough time. (As my accountant mama used to say when I’d ask her for money, “It all adds up!”)

Tripwires Can Be Repurposed As Bonus Incentives For Larger Offerings

Once you’ve created a tripwire, if it naturally relates to another product or service you offer, you can easily throw it in as a bonus. People LOVE bonuses and it helps you to create the perception of higher value without lowering your prices when you offer something extra for a limited time.

Over time, you can even build up an inventory of low-cost digital products to use as tripwires and limited-time bonuses in email promotions to help you create a sense of urgency.

Tripwires Are The Easiest Way To Make Passive Income

And last but not least, one of the biggest benefits of adding a tripwire to your marketing mix is to make extra passive income.

If you’re considering creating a larger course and that’s new territory for you, I’d encourage you to try creating a tripwire funnel as a first step — they take much less time to create and test.

You’ll learn a LOT about how much time, money, and effort it takes to set up sales funnels and automate the sales process, and then you’ll be able to apply what you learn to a larger offering. (The higher the price, the more complicated the marketing will be but this is a great way to get started with the basics.)

While it’s possible to make oodles of money with low-cost digital products, “how much” largely depends on the size of your audience and how aggressively you promote them.

Be realistic because passive income is a long game, it takes time to gain momentum. But if you consider the money you make as a way to offset marketing costs and the time/expenses it takes to create them, you’ll be more likely to keep adding to your inventory of digital products.

If your tripwire converts really well you can lean into that and focus on getting more traffic to it, even running paid traffic (advertising), and adding more offers to your funnels (upsells, downsells, etc.).

When I was just starting out many years ago I had a relatively small audience and wasn’t getting rich selling tripwires, but every week I’d get a paycheck and it amounted to a few extra thousand bucks per year in additional revenue with virtually no overhead. It may not seem like a lot, but consider that even years later, those products still sell without any additional efforts and negligible overhead costs.

What Makes a Great Tripwire?

TLDR; it’s all about value, value, value.

At this point, I want to mention a common mistake people make based on my experience coaching clients through setting up their first funnel…

As we’ve established, a great tripwire is a low-cost offer ($49 or less) but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be incredibly valuable. In fact, it should provide much more value than the price you put on it and that can feel painful when you’re just getting started.

What a lot of beginners do is consider all those hours they spent creating their digital product and calculate the value of their time. That is, if they’re a freelancer charging $100 per hour and it took them 20 hours to create, they’re thinking that was a $2,000 opportunity cost (so, they’d better price it pretty high).

You might be tempted to think that a tripwire that’s priced at $10 means you’ll have to sell 200 before you “break even.”

But selling digital products is not the same as selling your time. It’s not an opportunity cost, it’s an investment, and the payoff won’t happen instantly like it does when you send an invoice for services.

And remember, your first goal isn’t to generate revenue, it’s to earn trust and to attract people who are good candidates for your other (higher priced) products and services. You can even think of creating a tripwire as a marketing investment.

A great tripwire helps your customer solve their problem a little bit of the way (toward your other solutions) and gives them a quick win. If must relate to your other paid offerings (see value ladder above) in order for it to be a win for you as well.

Quick example. My first digital product was an eBook/workbook written with my ideal client in mind. I priced it at $47 and made less than $1000 in sales the first year. Not awesome, right? ?

I had no idea what I was doing and no clue how to even get my product in front of the right people. But, I had created something I knew would be valuable to the people I wanted to work with 1-1. When I crunched the numbers I realized 10% of them went on to become a client and those clients paid me thousands of dollars for my services.

So think about…

  • What problems do you solve? (With your 1-1 services or higher-ticket products/programs.)
  • What problems do your customers have as they relate? (Brainstorm a big old list!)
  • What’s the ultimate outcome or transformation they want? (Really take the time to get clear about the big picture.)

Then think about…

  • How can you break this problem down and solve one specific aspect of it?
  • How can you give them a “sample” of your larger offerings without giving away too much?
  • What can you create that’ll be useful to them (for example save them time or money, or help them achieve an immediate goal)
  • What do you need to include in your product to give them a standalone solution? (In other words, they win whether they make another purchase or not.)

The key to a great tripwire is that it solves a specific problem. Be ready to define exactly what that is and what outcome they can expect when they buy.

Note: don’t go wild and start solving all of the problems your dream customers have. Just make it hyper-relevant to your other products and services in your value ladder and aim to give them a quick win.

Examples of Tripwire Digital Products You Can Create

Since we’re talking digital products here, we’re talking about content and that can come either as…

  • Written content
  • Audio content
  • Video content
  • A combination of all three (like a small course)

Once you have an idea for what you can create, play to your strengths and choose the format that will be most useful to your audience.

  • It might be an interactive .pdf workbook or an eBook or guide, a calendar, a swipe file, templates, a spreadsheet or a combination of digital documents
  • An audio guide or an audio series is great if your audience includes people on-the-go – they can listen in their car, on their commute, while doing chores, or at the gym
  • Maybe it’s a video masterclass or tutorials
  • What about a bundle or toolkit that combines different options from the list above?

Brainstorm some initial ideas and then ask yourself:

  • What is the outcome my customer will get when they’ve used this product?
  • Are there any gaps that will prevent them from getting that outcome? (Fill those in!)
  • What can I include that will make it even easier for them?
  • How can I save them time in achieving this outcome?
  • What would make this even more valuable to them?

PDF Workbooks, Swipe files, eBooks, and other Digital Documents

You don’t need special software or design skills to create a digital document. It can be as simple as hopping on Google Docs or Canva and creating a document as you do, then, save it as a .PDF, and voila!

But as a former professional designer, I know first-hand that good design can elevate the perception of value so my advice is to create a nice cover and mockup and make sure your documents are well-formatted. You might even find a freelance designer or virtual assistant with design skills to help if that’s not your cup of tea.

Or, check out our Make it Sell it Toolkit which we created for digital product creators for this very reason. We put together an epic collection of Canva templates for creating documents to sell (plus matching landing pages and sales pages for WordPress).

Audio Guides

Admittedly, I’m no audio expert so if you’re a podcaster or have experience with this, just fast forward, nothing to see here. ?

I keep it cheap and easy by using QuickTime (already installed on my computer) to record audio. I don’t have a fancy-pants microphone (yet) and I don’t think you need to to get started… but, you do want to make sure your audio is clear and free from background noise. Customers will forgive a lot if you’re working on a budget but not bad audio.

I either use earbuds that have a microphone built-in or a lavalier mic. If you’re “one of those people” and only top-shelf will do, a top tip I have for you is to look in the description box for your favorite YouTube podcaster, they usually link to the equipment they’re using.

For editing, check out Audacity. 

To sell an audio file, you can use something simple like Gumroad.  Just sign up for an account. You can use the free plan to start (they just take a bigger cut of any sales) and upgrade when you’ve got money coming in.

Video tutorials, workshops, masterclass, small drip course

If you can teach something that’s better presented in video format, you could create a video presentation or a series of smaller videos to be delivered as a “drip course” (for example one short lesson delivered each day for a fixed number of days).

Setting that up can be as simple as hosting your videos as “unlisted” on YouTube and then creating an automated series of emails that link to the videos with a tool like MailerLite or ConvertKit.

Both email tools make creating automated sequences easy but my preference is MailerLite if you’re just getting started with something like this because it’s free until you hit 1,000 subscribers.

The easiest way I know how to host and sell videos, though, is to set them up in a digital product hosting service like Podia. You simply upload the videos directly into the lesson and they handle all the hosting for you, you can even set it as a “drip” course.

It’s also extremely user-friendly for people who are consuming your content and works on all devices. If you have supplemental text, checklists, or workbooks, or documents, you can upload them as well. Easy-peasy.

Side note: I know there are lots of great membership sites and digital product e-commerce solutions out there that I’m not mentioning. I’ve done tons of research and have used lots of technologies for different projects. But, I use these in my own business and I’m a huge fan of choosing the easiest solutions to start — my feeling is, tech headaches and frustrations are not a good use of time until the revenue justifies it.

3 Simple Tripwire Marketing Funnels You Can Try

Once you’ve created your low-priced digital product, you can’t just stick it on a “products” page on your website and expect people to buy it. Some may, but most people will miss it. The idea is to present them with an offer they can’t resist at exactly the right moment.

Remember that your tripwire is the bridge between your free offers and your email marketing content.

Free content > Free opt-in incentive > Tripwire > Email marketing

Your tripwire sales page needs to be shown to them immediately when they sign up for your email list. That’s when they’re most engaged and actively looking for solutions. Presenting your tripwire offer can be done in one of two ways:

  1. It’s presented on the “thank you” page that you redirect people to after they opt-in to your email list
  2. And/or, it’s offered in your delivery welcome email

👉 Note: the easiest and most effective way to offer a free opt-in incentive from your blog is to create a Content Upgrade, so be sure to check out this post if you need help with that step. You can also create a landing page to direct traffic from social media and Pinterest. You can grab templates to help you set that up here.

There are lots of ways to go about setting up a tripwire funnel but here are just a few ideas for you. Just remember that the purpose of the tripwire is to create an offer that’s so attractive it’ll wow your audience so much they’ll want to buy it on impulse.

1. The One Time Offer Funnel

The “one-time offer” (or “OTO”) is a very common funnel used by bloggers and digital product creators. To set it up you’ll need:

  • Relevant blog post(s) that relate to your tripwire product
  • A content upgrade (a freebie + an opt-in form within your post)
  • A landing page to redirect the user to after they fill out the form with a “one time offer” for a limited time
  • A follow-up sequence of emails that guides them toward your next or more premium offer
Tripwire marketing funnel

How this works is immediately after they sign up for your mailing list, you’ll send them to a “thank you” page. Most email service providers have this functionality (we use ThriveLeads to create our forms and redirects).

But instead of just a simple “thank you” message, you’ll also present a special offer… you might call it:

  • An exclusive offer that’s not available anywhere else
  • A one time offer that won’t be made again
  • A limited time offer for new subscribers

To give you a visual, it looks something like this…

STEP 1: Create a landing page

A landing page is different from a normal web page because you’ll remove all distractions with the exception of your offer. That means it should have no header navigation, no footer, no links to other things, no “follow me on social media” — just the offer.

I recommend learning how to set up landing pages on your own domain because to me, committing to using a third-party landing page service (which are usually not cheap) is a monthly expense that’s not worth it when you’re just getting started.

The WordPress theme I prefer to use to create landing and sales pages is Divi – it’s as simple as choosing the “blank page” template. Then, I just use their visual drag-and-drop editor to set up the page.

Visual builders like Elementor or Thrive Architect are also great tools that allow you to do basically the same thing.

(You can check out our toolkit that includes pre-designed sales pages and landing pages for all three builders with copy prompts and mockup templates to set these pages up quickly.)

STEP 2: Integrate a countdown timer

I know you’re probably thinking “Oh no, those cheesy things?” but without them, there’s no real urgency to take action. But here’s the thing… you mustn’t just put a countdown timer that doesn’t really expire the offer.

You need to use one that legitimately offers it for a limited time and if they don’t buy, the page should expire.

An affordable option I use and have been pretty happy with is Countdown Dynamite. It’s a simple plugin that integrates with WordPress and is easy as pie to set up. You just turn it “on” on any page where you want it to appear, tell it how long you want the timer to run (e.g. 15 minutes) and then the page redirects to a page of your choice once that timer runs out. For around $10 bucks it’s a bargain and definitely gets the job done.

The ONLY thing you need to be aware of is that when your countdown timer runs out, it runs out for YOU too, and if you’re working on the page, it’ll tell you time is up and redirect you! ? Either work fast or just be aware you need to turn it off while working or go into your post to clear cache and restart the timer.

2. The Tripwire Upsell Funnel

Another way to go about it is to drive traffic to a landing page with a freebie and for that, you’ll need:

  • Traffic (ads, seo, social media, etc.)
  • A landing page with a freebie and opt-in form
  • A sales page with tripwire offer to redirect them to after they sign up
  • An upsell offer right within your checkout process to add to their order

Once people opt-in to your freebie, you would then redirect them to a sales page with your irresistible offer. Once they begin the checkout process, you can invite them to add an additional purchase to the order.

How you price your upsell all depends on the price sensitivity of your audience and what you’re selling, but generally these aren’t super high ticket offers (those take more nurturing, usually with emails, sales calls, free trainings and webinars, etc.) but to just give you an idea, most of our upsells are under $200.

Note: this is not a hard-and-fast rule, it’s just an example:

Tripwire upsell funnel

These are just two simple examples and if you’re wondering… Yes, you can totally mix and match these ideas or edit your funnels in a way that makes sense.

For example, you might drive traffic right to your tripwire page and skip the freebie landing page step. Or you might add an upsell to the “one-time offer” funnel that starts with a blog post and content upgrade. Visuals always help us but it’s really just to get you started thinking about the possibilities.

Take out a piece of paper and sketch out the path that guides your target audience to your offer and then test, test, test to see what works best!

Note: It usually takes a bit of experimenting because some top-of-funnel content (blog posts, freebies, etc.) will work better than others and you’ll want to create multiple paths for your audience to find your offer too.

Whichever way you go, it’s important to create a sense of urgency.

If it’s just a low-priced offer that they can get any old time any old where they are unlikely to take action and become a customer quickly (the goal).

To create urgency for something that really isn’t scarce (a digital product can be sold an infinite number of times), the OFFER must be scarce and/or time-sensitive.

For that, you’ll need a couple of tools to create a limited-time offer. There are all kinds of expensive funnel products out there but with a bit of creativity you can easily set this up yourself to just get started with it.

3. The Email Tripwire Offer

The other way to do this is after they’ve signed up for your email list, to make them a limited-time offer and put the countdown timer right in the email itself. For that, you’ll need something like Deadline Funnels.

Keep in mind that when people opt-in to your mailing list, they’re MOST engaged in the initial emails you send them. When you send them a welcome email, you can make them a limited, one-time exclusive offer there.

Or, you might set up a welcome sequence where you build interest for your tripwire, warm them up to the idea, maybe offer it first without a timer, and then offer a “last chance at this price” email with a timer.

There are a lot of ways to go about this and I’d experiment a bit… if one method isn’t working, try another! That’s what conversion optimization is all about: testing and tweaking until you get a certain % of people raising their hands for the offer.

Then, once you get that sorted out, it’s just a matter of getting more people to that offer. (Another story for another day!)

I hope you found this helpful! Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments. Have fun with creating your tripwire marketing funnel, and before you go be sure to grab our Digital Product Launch Blueprint to help you create your irresistible offer!

Get the Digital Product Launch Blueprint from ConversionMinded

Are you a coach, consultant, creative professional, or any type of freelancer? Then there’s no doubt you know this story…

One day you’re so swamped with client work you can’t even think about where you’re going to find your next client. Then when things slow down, you realize there’s no work lined up → PANIC! then finally, a bunch of work comes in again → PHEW! → and the cycle starts all over again.

This is known as the “feast or famine cycle” and it happens when you don’t have a system for attracting clients while you’re busy serving the ones you have. 

But just imagine being able to relax into your day-to-day work knowing that consistent interest in your work is always flowing toward you on autopilot.

In this post, we’re going to show you exactly how to get there! ?

What is a Sales Funnel for a Service Business?

While we usually talk about “sales funnels” in the context of selling products, the income and work consistency all service providers crave is exactly why you need them too. For you…

A sales funnel for service businesses is simply a series of steps that guides people from becoming aware of you to booking your services.  

Even though we like to believe it’s a straight shot from discovering we exist to getting booked for a gig, you’ve probably already discovered first-hand that it just doesn’t work like that.  It all comes down to timing.

A sales funnel gives people the information and nurturing they need and when they need it until they’re ready to hire you. 

It keeps you top of mind, helps inspire trust, and can even position you as a go-to expert so when the time is right, it’s a no-brainer for them to take the next steps with you (there can be no substitute – it has to be YOU).  

And because a funnel is largely automated, it works in the background for you 24/7/365 to generate leads and line up future work — even when you’re booked, busy, burned out, or heck, just want to take a week off. #treatyourself

Not only that, you can use your funnel to create financial leverage with passive income! 

Offering a low-cost digital product to customers who are going through your funnel is a great way for service providers to offer a low-risk first step. It also provides an option for people who can’t afford your 1-1 services and gives you a source of revenue if you do experience a slow period.

Right then. Before we get into the steps and components you need to set up your funnel, let’s peek behind the curtains of your new “client attraction system” to see how it’s going to change the game for you. If you raise your hand to any of the following problems, you definitely need a funnel… 

3 Reasons Why Service Providers Need A Sales Funnel

#1. You’re attracting clients who don’t want to pay you what you’re worth, don’t respect your time and process, and blow up your phone with non-urgent requests on the weekends ?

If you find yourself saying “yes” to projects and clients you’d really rather say “no” to, it’s probably due to “famine anxiety” — because you never know when the money might stop flowing, it’s hard to turn any work down.

Not only does this scarcity mindset zap the joy from your work, it puts all the power into your customers’ hands. In other words, if you don’t have the power to say, no, you’re at their mercy — and how your business is going to go for you depends entirely on them. 

But check this out…

A well-structured funnel allows you to attract and qualify higher-quality clients, focus on the work that’s most fulfilling and profitable for you, and even make passive income along the way. 

You can design your funnel to attract only the types of clients you want to work with doing the type of work you’re meant to be doing (rather than all that other stuff you say yes to only because you need the cash). It’s your funnel and you can use it to steer your business in the right direction. Now that’s what we call taking your power back! ?

#2. You don’t have time to market your business strategically and consistently (you’ll get around to that once you get your client projects are under control?) 

Has it been a while since you’ve dusted off your Instagram account? Been a hot minute since you’ve emailed your list? When you have a free hour to work on marketing tasks, do you stare at your screen wondering where the heck to even start? 

When you’re busy serving clients It’s understandable that you need to put marketing on the backburner, we all have bills to pay and marketing takes time — time you just don’t have. We get it. 

But marketing is the only way to create leverage in your business and line up future work so you can feel in full control of what you do, for whom, and even how much you can charge. 

The truth is, there’s never going to be a convenient time for you to put your business in the #1 spot on your priorities list rather than your clients’, but that’s exactly what you need to do in order to break the feast or famine cycle. 

The good news is…

The more you can create and automate up-front by creating a sales funnel, the easier it will be for you to create a marketing routine that doesn’t take up much of your time to maintain. 

Once it’s set up, you’ll mostly just focus on getting new people into your funnel (e.g. via social media) and let your funnel take care of the rest. 

(Be sure to check out our Content Calendar System if you need help with what to post and what to say on social media in order to be consistent and get people into your funnel – it’s a huge, huge time-saver!) 

#3. Potential clients take their sweet time about their decision to move forward but you’ve got bills to pay today

Your potential client’s readiness to start work is rarely in sync with your financial needs. You can’t convince people who aren’t ready to buy something to buy it – just think of the last time you were “sold” something you didn’t want or need at that moment… it just doesn’t happen.

But if you understand what’s happening from their perspective, you can get head of timing frustrations…

Fortunately, the process your clients go through before they decide to hire you is predictable, and we can use that to our advantage when planning a funnel.  Your sales funnel educates, positions you as the best solution, and provides so much value along the way that when they are ready to buy, they choose you

In other words, you’re not really “selling” them something they’re not in the market for today, you’re giving them lots and lots of reasons to buy from you when they are.

So let’s look at this predictable process in more detail: 

  1. First, they need to be aware they have a problem and that you (the problem solver) even exist
  2. Then, they need time to research and compare their options
  3. Once they’ve done that, they start to consider whether you’re absolutely positively the best option
  4. When they’re satisfied your solution is the best choice for them, they decide to move ahead! 

Along your customer’s journey, you want to be sure you’re providing them options for ‘next steps’ that make sense for them today and depending on where they’re at. 

If you’ve got a website and you’re relying exclusively on that to book work, and if the only options they see are…

? “Hire me”
? “Let’s work together!”
? “Schedule a discovery call”

…if they’re in the early stages of this process, you’re asking them to take a HUGE step – one they’re just not ready for. It’s kind of like asking someone to marry you on the first date.  

At this point they’re not a “yes” or a “no”… they’re a “maybe” and you’re asking them to skip over several steps…


Your “maybe someday” audience is busy today. This isn’t a priority. They have time to explore their options. You’re in a rush to book them NOW but that’s not their problem.

When you ONLY give them a binary choice:
1. Hire you
2. Click away

… you’re missing the opportunity to nurture a relationship with people who’d love to hire you – just not today. That’s where your funnel really shines, so now let’s look at what you need to set it up: 

The Easiest Way to Plan A High-Converting Sales Funnel

The first thing you want to do is decide WHAT you’ll be offering (or what service you’ll “pitch”) in your funnel. 

Here you can really dream big and decide how you want your business to be – who is the ideal customer you want to target? What service offerings do you want to become known for?

We always start at the end and work backward. So think about… 

What’s the FINAL destination?

What’s your “bullseye” service? What problem are you solving for your dream customer and who are they? What does your service include, how much does it cost, and how long does it take?

Once you’ve figured out where you’re ultimately taking people, you’ll want to “break apart” that solution to solve it a percentage of the way at each step of your funnel. So now it looks something more like this… 

By providing free value and low-risk solutions that relate to your bullseye service, you’ll get the right people into your funnel and keep them hooked. 

If we rotate this funnel-shaped graphic, now it looks like a ladder – neat right? This is a value ladder. If you’ve ever wondered what that is, a value ladder is just a series of offerings that increase in price and value. 


? Click the image below to grab our free Value Ladder Planner that goes into more detail about what to include.?

Now let’s put all of these ideas together and see how your funnel will look: 

Sales Funnel for a Service Business

Traffic > Free offer > Intro Product > Lead Service > Bullseye! 

While this may feel like a lot of things, chances are you already have at least some of these components already and others really don’t take that long to set up! You’ve got this. ?

Now let’s take a look at the components of your funnel….

9 Components Of An Ideal Service Business Sales Funnel

#1. Landing Pages

The standard service provider website usually consists of a home page, about page, services page, and contact. 

The problem is, these pages typically have lots and lots of options for your website visitors to choose from and that can lead to “analysis paralysis” and that binary choice we talked about – “yes or no!” when most of your site visitors are “maybes.”

Your site visitors need to know EXACTLY what to do next if you want them to take action and if they’re not ready to hire you, they need a SMALL, low-risk step.

[Note: We’re not saying you shouldn’t have these common website pages – they’re especially useful for people who are super close to making a purchase and just have a few remaining questions and they need to know how to take the next steps to hire you.]

For your funnel, you want to start thinking about your website as a series of “landing pages” that you can link to from any content you create and social media (at the top of your funnel) and in your emails (the middle of your funnel).

A landing page is one page with one goal, that’s it. It makes it crystal clear what the visitor is supposed to do next (sign up, book a call, buy now, etc.) 

#2. A Useful & Relevant “Lead Magnet” (Free Offer)

This should NOT be something that takes you a lot of time to create – it just needs to give your audience a “quick win” as it relates to your service offerings.

Think worksheet, 10 tips, a template, a cheat sheet, or a checklist.

(Check out Lead Magnet Mastery to learn how to create killer freebies that’ll get the right people into your funnel.) 

#3. A Social Media “Home Base”

Figure out where your dream clients are most likely to be and focus on building your audience there – you don’t need to be everywhere, consistency is what matters. As you get the hang of that, you can branch out and master other channels.

Important: you’ll want to spend a % of your time promoting your free opt-in and getting people into your funnel. Don’t worry about being spammy! If you’re mixing it up with value posts you’re good. Remember that most of your audience will miss most of your messages most of the time.

#4. A Strategy to Drive Traffic to Your Landing Pages

OPTION 1: Free traffic – If your audience is on Pinterest, that’s a GREAT place to promote your freebies and get people into your funnel. If you have a blog, a YouTube channel or a podcast – always add a “call to action” that invites people to get your freebie and onto your mailing list. Plaster links to your opt-in landing pages everywhere and every chance you get.

OPTION 2: Paid traffic – You can also run ads to your freebies on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. — this is a good option for you especially if you don’t have time to create content. 

(And of course, you can do both!)

⚠️ CAUTION: What you don’t want to do is just run ads to your website because as we’ve established, people won’t understand their next step and they’re likely to just click away without taking the action you want them to. But if you run ads to a landing page with a free offer or even a low cost digital product, you’ll be getting the right people into your funnels. Essentially, you’re paying for leads and if you have a low-cost product, that will help offset your advertising costs. And, you may even turn a profit! It took time, but we’ve transitioned completely from serving clients to just selling just digital products!

#5. An Email Service (Autoresponder)

You’ll need to set up automated nurturing email sequences you write in advance to deliver your freebie, introduce them to your digital product(s), and provide value so you can earn their trust. 

After your audience has a chance to get to know you a little bit (we call this a “warm audience” – they’re warming up to you and the idea of purchasing from you), you can do a hard pitch to get them on a sales call or purchase your service package or program.

If you’re new to email marketing, MailerLite is a great place to start and is free for up to 1,000 subscribers.

#6. Automated Email Sequence(s)

Your email engagement is going to be highest when people first sign up (their problem is top of mind) so over the next 5-7 days after they sign up, you want to send out valuable emails that relate to their problem and the services you offer.

Then, once you’ve established the know, like, and trust factor with your super helpful emails – you’re ready to make your pitch! 

This next step is a really powerful way to turn a member of your audience into a customer while they’re still in the research and consideration phases and that is to offer… 

#7. A Low-Cost Digital Product (Optional but Recommended) 

This is a GREAT way for you, as a service provider, to start creating passive income but it also helps you earn trust with people who are considering hiring you. 

What you want to do here is relate it to the service you’re leading them to and help them solve the problem they have part of the way (in order to go further, they need to take the next step and hire you!). 

If they find your product valuable, you’re establishing trust and staking your claim as a go-to expert. This step provides more value than your free offer but less than your done-for- or done-with-you services. 

#8. A “Conversion Tool” (Optional but Recommended) 

If you really want to create a banging funnel, you can add in a super valuable resource to really demonstrate your expertise and value. 

These take more time to create than your “quick win” freebies so it’s perfectly okay to circle back around to this when you have time. But the idea here is, you’re giving them so much value they won’t even think about hiring your competition.

Examples include webinars, a free course, or a series of training videos. 

❗IMPORTANT! When you’re just getting started, do NOT hold things up until you create a digital product or a conversion tool. Start with a simple funnel that includes a freebie and a series of emails. Then, add more to the funnel as you have time to work on these more robust components. 

#9. A Pitch

By now, your audience has warmed up to you because you’ve been delivering value and it’s time to call them to action. 

This could be to book a discovery call or to a purchase a lead service. (A lead service is essentially paid discovery but you’ll package it as a roadmap, success path, blueprint, etc. – a clear deliverable with standalone value.) 

Let’s see how all of these components work together now! 

Putting it All Together 

In Summary

When it’s all set up, your sales funnel will look like this:
>>> Traffic
>>> Opt-in landing page with a freebie
>>> Thank you page (you can offer your digital product here if you have one)
>>> Freebie delivery and nurturing email sequence
>>> Pitch
>>> Continue nurturing and optimizing your funnel as you have time

…that’s it! Set it and forget it!

Now you can focus on planning AHEAD rather than finding a client during a desperate famine phase. Whoo hoo! ? 

Of course, there are many ways to go about this, but this is a great foundation funnel to put lead generation on autopilot… but really, this is just the start and the sky’s the limit from here. You can continue to add to your funnel by testing different freebies, layer on additional email sequences, offer additional products, add more “conversion tools,” etc.

You can test different things in your funnel too to get it converting even higher – things like adding urgency (special pricing for a limited time), exclusive subscriber bonuses, and so on.

The important thing is that you get started and there’s no time like RIGHT NOW to break that dreaded feast or famine cycle for good!

We hope this was helpful! Will you be setting up a funnel for your service business? Let us know in the comments below!