The Birth of the Tripwire
The term “tripwire” appears to have originated with Ryan Deiss of Digital Marketer. I have to admit, I am not at all in love with the negative terminology that seems rampant in online marketing these days. “Tripwire” seems negative. I prefer the original term, front-end offer, which you’ll hear from me most often when I talk about “top of funnel (TOFU)” campaigns.
What is a Tripwire Offer?
A “tripwire offer” (aka, a front-end offer) is a lower-cost entry offer which is presented to prospects early in the marketing campaign. Note that I say “lower cost” very deliberately, because low cost compared to a $199 core offer is chump change compared to the low cost alternative to a $10,000 core offer. (And by core offer, I mean the main product or service you’re selling.)
In the days of direct mail, this was the offer presented on first mailing. In online marketing, this is a chunk of your core offer broken down into a piece that’s easily consumable for the prospect yet costs something more than free.
I’ve seen tripwires (or “front end offers”) as:
- $1, $3.95, $9.95, or even $19 trial of a software or membership
- $27 Execution Plan (see below!)
- $497 Webinar “Masterclass” (the full product was $15,000!)
- $7 Book (or “Free + Shipping”)
- 7 books for $1, 10 CDs for $1, etc.
- $99 “Special Report”
- $37 annual newsletter
- Buy 1, Get 1 Free Product Offer on something small
These examples should be enough to grease the wheels of your imagination about what’s possible for your business. Now let’s look at a few examples of front-end marketing offers.
What are Tripwire Marketing Examples?
I’m glad you asked! Below is a direct response publisher, Nutrition and Healing, offers a newsletter + FREE BOOK as their front-end “tripwire” offer, which you’ll see below:
I highlighted the second option because, as you’ll see, the first option isn’t really an option when you consider that their target demographic is over 55. So this is technically a “tripwire” offer at a mere $37 per year.
Here’s another example, this time from Ryan Deiss of Digital Marketer:
I highlighted the low cost, here $27. Their goal is to get you to join their core offer, Digital Marketer Lab, so they’re making that look appealing by placing the “free trial” against the “$27 Execution Plan”. Either way, someone new to Digital Marketer may try the low commitment $27 plan as a way to test the value of the products offered.
Here’s another, this time by “RightMixMarketing” in their sidebar. It leads to their $19.99 blogging course, on sale for just $10.
Hopefully, you’ll see now that a “tripwire offer” has the following characteristics:
- It appears early in the marketing cycle.
- Is low cost compared to the core offer, but NOT free.
- Gives prospects a “taste” of what working with you is like.
- Is easy to purchase (requires no application or sales call).
- Is highly benefit-driven and designed to solve a single problem.
- Is easy and quick to consume by the prospect.
- Is often “DIY” instead of “DWY” or “DFY”.
The Tripwire Offer Controversy
There’s some debate as to whether a low cost tripwire offer is even needed. Some high ticket marketers insist the only way to sell is to start with the big core offer and then downsell until someone buys, rather than start with the low cost and work upwards.
According to Todd Brown of Marketing Funnel Automation, a tripwire gets the buyer psychology all wrong, at least if you’re in information marketing. He says,
“…most of the highly successful internet marketers start with a high-priced offer. Something in the range of $200 to $500. What this does is it gets the “cream of the top”, so to speak. There is a certain percentage of people who are going to take advantage of the higher offer like that.Then we create a frame of value around the product for those who don’t jump in right away.”– Todd Brown, “Why you DON’T want to start your funnel with a tripwire”
He explains that the best course of action is to start with the $200, $500, or $1000 offer, because the best prospects will bite right away. Then, he says that those who don’t bite will take payment options. Those who don’t take that offer might take a streamlined version of the product for a lowered price. And those who still say no might invest in a tripwire offer. He believes this approach better anchors your “value” in the mind of the prospect than a traditional “moving up the ladder” marketing funnel approach.
One point to keep in mind is that not all businesses would benefit from a tripwire. High ticket consulting businesses, such as those in the Information Technology space, likely can’t offer a tripwire.
Or can they?
An example of using a tripwire in this space could be a paid evaluation or consultation. Or perhaps a training for their team. Either way, these options are likely to cost less than the hundreds of thousands some IT projects cost.
In the e-commerce space, tripwires which work well are free gifts, such as a sample set of perfumes. I’ve even seen “matchbooks” of lipstick samples as a tripwire offer!
What Happens if There Isn’t a Tripwire Offer in a Marketing Funnel?
Look, I’m not going to claim that the sky’s going to fall if you don’t include a tripwire offer in your marketing. However, not including a tripwire offer where one would be beneficial will, at the very least, cause you to leave money on the table.
That’s because you always want to have an offer for everyone. Not everyone will buy at your highest tier; nor will everyone buy at your lowest tier. Allow your clients to choose the level of quality, service, and DIY they prefer at the price point they can afford. Not giving these options may mean that you’re turning away paying clients who would invest if only you gave them the opportunity!
How to Create a Tripwire Offer Funnel
By now, you should already have some idea of what to create for your tripwire offer. If not, here are some front-end marketing offers you can swipe today:
- Ebook or Book
- Webinar or “Masterclass”
- Cheatsheet, Checklist, or Workshop
- Low-cost Trial (e.g., $1)
- Miniature Course
- Short Consultation Call
- Free Product or “Buy one, et one free”
- Product Sample for low price
Pick a tripwire type and then ask yourself, “Which urgent problem am I hoping to solve with this tripwire?”
In one of the examples above, it’s finding natural cures to difficult health problems. In another, it was how to grow a business using a blog. Pick a problem your clients ask to solve most often.
Then, ask yourself, “What is the most powerful benefit of consuming and implementing this tripwire?”
Now you know what to create, which problem to solve, and the big idea of your opt-in marketing copy. Go at it!
Note that you’ll need to create all of the following to successfully launch your tripwire:
- Image of the Tripwire (I like to make 3D images)
- Tripwire Offer Squeeze Page
- The Tripwire (Marketing Asset) itself
- Purchase ability (e.g., button which goes to a cart)
- Delivery Mechanism (e.g., email delivery, course login)
- Follow-up Sequence and Offer (e.g., core offer)
And of course, if you want help with this, you’re more than welcome to get my help on your next marketing campaign.
How Much to Charge for a Tripwire
Traditionally tripwires cost less than $50. That being said, I’ve seen them cost as little as $1 and as much as $99. The choice is up to you, and I urge you to test your price as much as you test everything else in your marketing.
Tripwires can be useful tools to grow your list and add revenue to your business. Many entrepreneurs use them to give prospects an opportunity to “test drive” before purchasing a bigger product. If your business supports it, then you would do well to test tripwires. I wonder who you’ll prove right – Ryan Deiss of Digital Marketer or Todd Brown of Marketing Funnel Automation?
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