While studying digital marketing tactics, I ran across a way to organize products and services that encourages clients to increase their business with you, while paying you to do so. It’s called a Value Ladder, and it’s anchoring my clients’ new marketing and product strategies.
In Russell Brunson’s book, “Dot Com Secrets,” he explains that the Value Ladder is a family of products that lead a client into increasing levels of commitment to a brand. The products can be tangible goods, services, programs, or digital content.
The Value Ladder has two parts: 1) a series of progressively valuable and expensive products or services, each leading logically to the next; and 2) continuous value, recurring income from a Continuity Product.
The premise is that you offer an initial introductory product or program at a no-brainer, entry-level, chance-to-prove-yourself price. Then you provide so much value in that first experience that clients are eager to progress to the next rung. As they progress up the ladder, they learn about your Continuity Product. The Continuity Product offers ongoing value for which clients will pay repeatedly, a subscription if you will, while maintaining contact with you for future offers.
The Value Ladder’s rungs are sorta like a sales cycle, but instead of you spending money to cultivate the client, clients actually pay you at each step to gain more value.
Brunson uses the example of a dentist’s practice to illustrate a simple Value Ladder. The dentist’s portal product is teeth cleaning. The next rung on her ladder might be whitening, and then straightening braces. Cosmetic dentistry is her Top Rung on the latter.
As it turns out, I’ve inadvertently had a loosely organized Value Ladder for my one-on-one mentorship programs for the past ten years.
While I often met new clients from referrals to specific programs, most clients came to me by first taking the Missouri Bank Business Edge course I lead. It was the least expensive program I offered yet allowed clients to experience excellent value for their investment. Many in the course progressed to continued work with me. Some hired me for specific Spot Treatment of a problem or opportunity, and others joined my Circle of Trust for continued think tankery from me, and a group of peers. And then many Circlers progressed to Mountain Time for my most immersive, personalized work year-round.
The top rung of the Value Ladder is where clients can experience the greatest value from your collaboration. You create all marketing communications to speak to the person who fits your Ideal Client profile for your Top Rung – knowing that in the process of moving from one rung to the next, a client may happily stabilize on one rung of the ladder.
This is totally acceptable. As Brunson points out, and I’ve experienced, clients get a unique level of help at an affordable price, and you make money while uncovering which Ideal Clients want your highest offer and can afford to pay for it.
Sometimes clients enter at a higher rung as their first, usually because of a referral. Or maybe they are aware enough to recognize a higher rung is the solution they want and are willing to pay to get. This too is okay. That’s the value of the Value Ladder. It’s still very focused and targeted marketing, yet very flexible for the client.
The Value Ladder model also allows you to manage your capacity more consciously. True, not all will become Top Rung clients, and you likely couldn’t service them all if they did. Those high value results and experiences typically require your best effort. The lowest priced Portal Rung products are where you can create products and programs that are more easily scalable. And again, all are introducing clients to the worthiness of your ladder’s climb.
Here are a few guidelines for building your own Value Ladder:
- Define your Ideal Client, the one most likely to be a Top Rung buyer. You will want each rung on the Value Ladder to be truly valuable to this person.
- Build your Value Ladder by starting at the Top Rung, with the utmost value product or program you could possibly provide. You may not even have dared to create such a thing, because you have dismissed it as “Not very many people will buy it.” Indeed they won’t, and again that’s okay. It’s the Top Rung from which you’ll earn the most money from a few clients who are willing to pay for this level of value.
- Then determine your Portal Rung – the entry-level product that will be a true no-brainer, yes price point, must-have value proposition for your Ideal Client.
- Finish your Value Ladder, by filling in the rungs between your Portal Rung and your Top Rung. Imagine the logical progression for solving your client’s problem, helping her make a specific transformation, or delivering a particular custom product. Consider breaking these progressive steps into rungs. It’s how I’m building my digital product Value Ladder – starting with a inspirational visioning tool as the Portal Rung, then progressing to how to turn dreams into an actionable plan, then to individual support for planning and implementation.
- Shoot for a 10-times value and price increase for each rung on your Value Ladder. But don’t just sell more volume of a single item or program. Make each rung a progressive value proposition, not a progressive quantity proposition.
- Consider how you will deliver each rung’s products or programs. If a rung requires more resources, or your exclusive attention, the price and value should be higher. Accordingly, the higher rungs are also likely to be less scalable for mass production. But your lower price point items could be less specialized and therefore easier to produce in scalable quantities.
- Pack MAX value for the price at each level, it’s the conceptual key to automatically encouraging the client’s next step.
Here’s my own revised Value Ladder for the Fun AND Profit brand I’ve developed. You’ll see that I’ve added a couple of rungs that are much less expensive and time-intensive than the mobank Business Edge course. And I’ve added a Continuity product that is less expensive than Circle of Trust – a monthly group conference call for Q&A.
Notice too that I’ve built the ladder to reflect the volume of clients I expect at each level. I’ve started with infinitely scalable digital products at the bottom of the ladder, focused on content and value that encourages my Ideal Client to climb the ladder as high as s/he wants – eventually transitioning from digital products to my limited capacity, highest value, in-person mentoring.
Now with awareness about this logical and effective progression, you can deliberately build your business using a Value Ladder. You’ll be able to identify on the internet new people who have the characteristics of your Ideal Client, and direct them to that Portal Rung, thusly launching your own Semi-Automatic Marketing Machine.