Value Ladders: What They Are, Where to Start & How to Create One

Jenna Kutcher 

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November 1, 2019


What if I told you there was a way to increase your revenue AND your impact by just changing one thing? You might’ve heard the phrase “value ladder” in podcasts or from marketing peeps, but it kinda sounds like another one of those business buzzwords that’s difficult to detangle the meaning, right?

Today, I’m decoding value ladders (I promise it’s way simpler than you might imagine) and walking you through how you can implement this powerful strategy to your business ASAP — like, right now! Value ladders are totally approachable, and may even be the one thing that shifts your income and influence into high gear.

What are value ladders, anyway?!

A value ladder is basically a method to map out your products or services in order of value and price. So, the bottom of the ladder would be your LEAST expensive, or maybe even free, offer. This is the item meant to get your customers in the door to get the pleasure of working with you, even on the lowest maintenance level (aka, lowest price and lowest value).

Ideally, a customer will climb the ladder, so once they’ve bought an entry product or service, they would continue to purchase more expensive and valuable items from you. This allows someone to enter into working with you at low risk, give it a try, and continue down the path if they like it.

A value ladder could even start with a freebie to grab their attention and get a foot in the door by offering something valuable (think: a discount code, a resource that gets results, or free shipping — something that will endear them to you and that provides value to them).

Why are value ladders important?

If you own a business that offers your products or services at just ONE price point, you’re probably missing out on a whole bunch of potential customers! Hear me out… Maybe you offer a product for $50 and have three potential customers who are interested in what you’re selling, but one has a $35 budget, one has a $50 budget, and one has a $100 budget.

That low-budget customer would be a lost sale, but if you offered something a little less valuable than your $50 item, that first customer would buy.

Customer two would be your one fair sale, which is great! Cool, one solid sale! That’s a win, for sure… But then you have customer three, with $100 burning a hole in her pocket. She gets your product for $50 when she was willing to pay more, and you potentially could’ve made double the income of your offer.

Catering to the needs of more budget-level customers and higher-paying customers alike by creating products that offer lower value at a lower price point and products that offer massive value at a higher price point is a way to meet the needs of all kinds of customers. You’ll win more customers AND be able to serve them all better! (Which, by the way, will keep them coming back to you again and again as their budgets increase!)

Value ladders give you the power to meet someone’s needs, no matter where they are at in the process. I work with business owners and have products for those JUST starting out and products that are more advanced that someone would need further along in their journey. I can serve a broader audience and continue to serve them as they grow and mature.

Even better? It’s an opportunity for you to make more money in an honest and ethical way by simply adjusting the format and levels of your offerings.

How to prepare and launch your own value ladder

The ladder isn’t just about money, it’s about creating a customer experience! Think of it this way: let’s say 100 people opt in for a freebie, then 50 use it, love it, and want the next step and you pose the next offer to them that’s a smaller investment level, maybe 25 will complete and obsess over that and be eager to do what’s next. If your offers are dead ends without invites, you’re leaving money and impact ton the table.

Don’t make the mistake of creating your biggest, most valuable signature course right out of the gates. Instead, think about what your perfect customer would need first, before they get to the big kahuna. Then what? What else could you supplement? Lead them on the path to that big product or service instead of starting with the largest possible offer you can think of.

I truly believe the best baseline for a value ladder is a freebie. What better or more effective way to get someone in the door than offering them something of value for absolutely no cost? I always recommend that product-based businesses offer a juicy discount (I’m talking like 10% to 15% off their first purchase) in exchange for your customer’s email address.

For education, service, or information-based businesses, a freebie resource containing the BEST 10% of your information is an amazing way to get your ideal clients intrigued and willing to hand over their email address. They’re going to immediately think: If that’s what she’s giving away for free, I can’t even imagine how valuable her paid service or content is.

I always share these sorts of freebies alongside content or blog posts that cover similar topics as a pop-up or footer to wrap up the post because I already know the reader is interested in the topic and probably wants to learn even more.

The MAIN thing to remember for freebies is to keep them concise, to the point, and result-driven. Now, you don’t have to promise (or try) to get 57 major results for your audience, but they should walk away from the freebie with something that they can immediately apply to their life and business to make it better. Just one thing that is useful right then and there.

And there are SO many ways to deliver freebies. Most of mine look like downloads just because it’s so easy to create a quick PDF, get it all pretty and branded, and then track how many people are interested in it. And once you have one freebie, that’s the start of your value ladder!

You now have a way to get your future customers on your email list, where you can deliver more free content (low rungs on the ladder) before offering some different price points to them as they climb that ladder.

For more on the types of freebies you can build out and offer your audience, check out this blog post all about creating an attractive image, putting together information people WANT to get from your freebie, and getting it set up through a platform where you can track your numbers easily.

What’s next after creating a freebie?

After you have a starting point — that lowest rung on the ladder that is your freebie — think through the experience or journey you want to take someone on. What do they need to know first to work with you? As they grow, would there be a next best step that you could offer another level of training or service?

And then: how many steps should there be? I’d recommend at least three to start: freebie, lower-priced item, and premium-priced item. You can always add as you go, but you want to make sure to have a few offerings on the table right away so they can opt into whichever makes the most sense for them.

Statistics say this strategy (alone, mind you) can increase profits by up to 50%. Pause. Rewind.

YES. 50%! If you serve your audience well, you’ll have people who just want to work with you no matter what you’re selling, and to offer multiple opportunities to buy your stuff is going to pay off huge in your business — in more ways than one. (Cha-ching.)

How does this look in real life?

Okay, so here’s an example. Say you’re a nutritionist. You could potentially create a meal plan as a freebie. The next item on your value ladder could be an e-book on nutrition, and the next tier might be a group coaching opportunity. The big shebang, that final rung on the ladder, would probably 1:1 coaching or consulting.

If someone loved what you were about and wanted to work with you, but they had a budget and you only offered 1:1 services, you would lose the sale. Instead, they might be better suited for your e-book or group coaching, so you want to cater to the needs of all kinds of levels.

When we introduced my Shop, Instagram course, and Pinterest course, they were wildly successful because there was a group of people out there wanting to work with me, but they couldn’t afford one of my pricier signature courses.

So, ask yourself this: What are you currently offering? Are there any gaps you could fill? Are there different mediums you could consider serving your people through, like in-person events, e-books, or courses? Is there a customer journey you can take your people on as they gain more confidence in what you offer and are ready to take that next step with you? 

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel and offer everything you can think of… Just start with three rungs. Three levels for clients with different budgets to have access to your offerings so that you can serve them in the best way possible, and improve your income as you do it.


Considering adding a course to your value ladder? Here’s something to help!

3 Tools You Need to Create a Digital Course

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  1. […] ladders? I know it sounds like this hoity-toity technical term, but I promise it’s simple. This blog post really breaks them down in detail, but essentially, it’s just creating different offers at different price points so that anyone […]


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A small town Minnesota photographer, podcaster, educator and puppy rescuer, my happiest days are spent behind my computer screen sharing my secrets with the world. I'm glad you're here.

I’m an expert at online marketing, a nerd when it comes to the numbers, and my obsession is teaching others how to make a living doing what they love (without it taking over their life). 

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