Imagine I’m standing at the top of a sheer cliff, waving my awesome product (which you need), and asking you to just climb up to me to get it. Would you? Or would you prefer if I carved some safer and more manageable steps into the rock face to help you?

Well, if you’re selling a high-value product or service, or the buying decision is complicated or emotionally difficult, and you don’t have a tiered path to purchase, then you are expecting your customers to scale a cliff face to get to your product instead of providing a nice, easy route for them.

So, how do you create those crucial steps that help your buyers make that first purchase more comfortably and easily? You create a Product Ladder for them.

What is a Product Ladder?
A product ladder is a tiered set of complementary products or services that goes from a low-value or low-risk offering to a high-value, premium offering, and beyond.

A robust product ladder looks like this:

1. Gateway offer
2. Gateway product
3. Core product offering
4. Extras

Here’s how you create an effective Product Ladder that helps your prospects easily make the journey to being a customer.

1. Gateway offer
You might not be familiar with the name, but you’ve certainly come across it at some point. It is typically a free trial, sample or tool that is usually given away in exchange for a customer’s data (name and email at a minimum but could be more depending on the value of the offer) and time.

2. Gateway product
A gateway product is the most common missing “rung” of the ladder, but it allows customers to dip their toe in the water without committing to a large and expensive product or package of services.

It should be priced just below the level at which a customer would need to seek approval from any other decision-makers (e.g. their boss or spouse).

If your business doesn’t disclose its prices until quotation, then publishing the price of a gateway product or package gives potential customers an idea of roughly what to expect when asking for a quote for a project. This means that you are less likely to lose potential customers because your quote was a lot more than they expected.

If you need some examples of great gateway products, have a look at this blog from KMS Marketing’s Kara Stanford.

3. Core product offering
This is your main product or service and where your real profits will come from.

4. Extras
And lastly, there are all the extras that customers can buy if and when they need to. Things like on-going maintenance or support contracts, product refills and other models of cross-selling and up-selling come here at the end of the ladder.


So do your customers have nice, manageable steps they can use to get up to you? Or are you expecting them to take a deep breath and start climbing, hoping the offering at the top of the cliff is worth the risk? If you are expecting them to take a risk, then we’d advise you work on your product ladder straight away and watch your revenue rise.



Co-authored by Ros Conkie from Ros Conkie Marketing, Bristol  and Kara Stanford of KMS Marketing.

Do you need to put a clear, easy route to purchase in place for your customers? Then get in touch and let’s discuss how to make it happen.


This blog draws on key concepts, frameworks and illustrations that form part of the Watertight Marketing™ methodology. These remain the intellectual property of Watertight Marketing Ltd and are used with permission and under license.

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