Tripwire marketing is not the most profitable business model for some, especially if you're in the thought leader business.

With tripwire marketing, you first turn people into leads by giving them a free offer. As soon as they sign up for your email list, you offer a low-value product (aka "the tripwire"). The idea is to turn them from a lead into a customer in a painless way.

Painless for them, that is. For your part, fulfilling on the tripwire offer may mean a loss for you, but it doesn't matter, because all you care about is getting your leads to take the next step, which is to spend money with you.

This is why a tripwire has also been called "loss leader." It can cost as little as one cent, one dollar, $7.... You're not after making a profit at this point; you just want to change the dynamic of your relationship with the person who has recently entered your marketing funnel.

You lose money, but only in the short term. And that's okay, because your plan is to get the customer to spend more money with you, eventually.

If you've ever joined a DVD club because for $1 you get 7 DVDs, or rushed to the grocery store because steaks are on special for 50% off, then you've experienced someone else's tripwire marketing. You probably ended up buying more DVDs in the months, even years, following your club membership. And while picking up the steaks, you probably also bought potatoes, drinks, and even new dinnerware.

Sounds like a great plan, right? It certainly works for many businesses.

But for others, it's absolutely not necessary.

The Advantage of Thought Leaders

If you're a thought leader, then presumably you have a blog, a podcast, and several speaking engagements. In other words, there are many ways for people to discover you.

People come into your orbit and learn that you're someone they should trust and listen to--all based on all the free stuff you already have out there.

And so, a low-priced, information-type product becomes redundant.

Now, that doesn't mean people won't buy it. That doesn't mean it can't serve as part of your ascension model if that's what makes sense in your business, and if it excites you.

But why make your prospects go through all these hoops, and why make more demands on your effort and attention, when it isn't necessary?

(I hate the term "tripwire," by the way. Conceptualizing your relationship with a prospective customer in a combative or oppositional way is just awful.)

Where Entrepreneurs Trip Up

People often lose sight of the strategy or the philosophy because they fixate on tactics. When they think about the value ladder, they imagine a funnel with offers at $7, $17, $97, $197, $997, and so on.

They figure, "These are the price points. Now I need to slot something in each one." So they try and plug in a product for each price point. But this approach misses the point completely.

What people end up doing is they think, "Oh, here's my $97 thing, but it won't create the outcome that you ultimately want. For that, you need my $997 thing." That's the opposite of what you're supposed to be doing.

The ladder of ascension is not built in terms of price points, but in terms of steps your perfect customer is ready to take with you. You want to move them forward towards whatever your core offer might be, based on their needs at that point.

For example, let's say your core offer is a $997 product. Half a step before they're ready to sign the dotted line, they're not quite there yet. Maybe they don't understand their problem quite enough. Maybe they aren't quite far along in their business or in their life. Maybe they don't trust you enough yet.

Some movement, some evolution has to happen with them and their relationship with you first. If that evolution corresponds with a problem you can solve with, say, your $97-product, and they're happy to pay you that amount at that stage, then great, the $97 product will very likely lead to the $997 sale.

With other people, though, following you online, getting your emails, and watching you speak on stage may be enough for them to take that $997 offer.

So instead of "tripping" your prospects, why not "ease" their way into increasingly higher levels of engagement with you?