Fix your broken value ladder (more revenue, less effort)

Read Time: 6 minutes

Welcome to BE THE EXPERT! In today’s issue:

  • Fixing your broken value ladder
  • Instagram Clarifies Advice on Single Word CTAs
  • Major Descript updates!

My value ladder was broken…

Many couldn’t reach the first rung…

Others would fall off halfway up…

value ladder is the structure of your offers, programs, and price points. Ex. entry-level offer ($97), flagship offer ($997), high-ticket offer ($4,997)

Sounds simple right?

But when you dig into it, you find that those choices have a profound impact on your expert business.

What you offer, how you price it, the order you launch them, and the “distance” between them determine the type of customers you’ll attract and the profitability (or not) of your business.

Today’s marketplace for online and expert businesses is different so a lot of what worked before is not working now and new strategies are required.

Let’s dive in!

It started out fine…

When I started the Expert Business Agency some years ago, we started with our high-ticket offer: done-for-you services.

(I still recommend most people start with their highest-ticket offer, more on why below)

So we had the top rung of our value ladder launched first and that worked very well. We made our first $15k sale when my email list only had 46 people on it.

Why did it work? We targeted the right people: time-challenged folks with the need and the means to build their businesses fast.

As we grew, some cracks started to emerge…

Why my value ladder was broken

Three issues limited our growth and needed to be addressed.

Top rung only

Our value ladder only had the highest rung (a $3k/mo program), we didn’t have middle and entry-level offers or even free content at the time.

So we had to pay money (ads) and time (calls) to attract, convert, and ascend people to our offer.

I had planned all along to have a full value ladder so this wasn’t a surprise, but I got bogged down in building our team and working with clients so we went almost 2 years with just the one offer.

We were sorta successful but I now know we left a LOT on the table.

No bottom rung

Eventually, I broke out one of our services (the content engine) as a separate offer. It had plans starting at $750/mo and a narrower (but still highly valuable) focus.

So that was the middle rung of the ladder (now we had $750/mo and $3k/mo programs)

At the same time, I started publishing a lot of content (using the content engine) and building an audience.

That helped us improve our ROI on ads and time as we had an organic audience and more approachable price points.

But there was still a pretty high hurdle to get to that middle part of our value ladder.

All of our services were done-for-you, which are great, but not as high a profit margin as DIY or DWY.

Too big of a gap from the bottom to the middle

So we also built some free and low ticket offers (our content planner and some small one-time offers)

We drove a lot of paid ads to those and had what looked like great results (very low-cost leads) but we attracted less ideal customers because many of those were interested in DIY and DWY solutions (which we didn’t have yet!)

So that is where there was a gap in the value ladder and people would fall out.

What I learned and how you can apply it

I’ll net out some key rules for your value ladder.

  1. Build and launch each rung as fast as you can
  2. Build from the top down
  3. Have a proportional “distance” between the rungs in terms of price, value, etc.
  4. Strongly consider having all of the rungs be recurring monthly/annual pricing
  5. Consider your content as the first rung of your value ladder

Let’s break those down:

Build and launch each rung as fast as you can

This was my biggest mistake. Only THIS MONTH, after four years, will I have a smooth value ladder of content + DIY/DWY/DFY offers all aligned and working together.

The key is building related but differentiated versions of the same overall system, what I call your signature system.

Our system is helping you establish the Strategy, Systems, Tools, and Team (or AI) needed to build and grow your expert business.

We started with DFY as mentioned, but now have DWY for the middle tier and DIY for the entry tier.

Having them all in place dramatically improves our ROI on content, ads, and time because we have offers now that fit a wider range of scenarios and budgets within our niche.

Build from the top down

I still absolutely recommend starting with your highest-ticket program first, which for most people is 1:1 coaching or done-for-you services.​


High-ticket has the potential for quick cash flow: you don’t need an audience, you just need 1 – 2 customers.

Cash flow is the fuel businesses need to survive and grow.

Starting high-ticket and 1:1 helps you learn from your prospects and customers directly what they need.

But as I learned, you NEED to build and launch the other parts of your value ladder as quickly as possible.

This is where the DIY/DWY/DFY spectrum comes in. Start with high-ticket/DFY. As you systemize things, offer that as your DWY (i.e. group coaching).

There is still high value as your clients have access to you, but you can scale more with group coaching and offer a middle tier of pricing now.

Then as you prove your system and results with DFY and DWY services, you can turn those into courses/memberships with low or no direct time with you and a lower price point as your entry-level offer.

Have a proportional “distance” between the rungs in terms of price, value, etc.

If your entry-level rung is $97 and the next level up is $2997, that is too large a distance between the rungs. There isn’t a smooth path for someone to ascend.

2x to 5x between the rungs is often the sweet spot. Example: $97, $497, $2997.

Then in terms of value provided, there needs to be clear distinctions like DIY/DWY/DFY.

This helps people identify where they can start and where they want to get to.

Strongly consider having all of the rungs be recurring / monthly / annual pricing

This one is very important.

For all of your efforts, would you prefer to receive one payment from your customers or multiple?

Yeah, me too!

The value ladder discussion popularized by Russel Brunson of Clickfunnels was built on the assumption that products were one-time sales (courses, ebooks, etc, etc.) and that you needed additional products in the value ladder to increase the lifetime value and profitability of a customer.

But in the last few years, the market has changed and he has started talking more about recurring revenue products like memberships, newsletters, etc. as people have burned out on paying gurus a lot up front for questionable value.

So what does this look like today?

Well, for my value ladder, each level is a membership now:

  • For DIY, we will be launching a $97/mo program that includes all of our training and related resources. We’ll also have a $297/mo tier that adds our full ACCELERATE suite of tools.
  • For DWY, we will have a $997/mo tier that adds all our coaching, systems, and additional support.
  • For DFY, that is $3,997/mo and includes my team doing a lot of the work FOR our clients.

Then to make that first rung even easier to access, in the beginning, we’ll be offering the first month at only $27 AND including a free trial of the ACCELERATE platform.


So that people can see and experience the insane amount of value we’re providing at an absurdly low price…

With each of those being recurring programs with low initial entry costs, it reduces a lot of friction in the sales process and provides a smooth path for people to upgrade as they need or want more support.

Consider your content as the first rung of your value ladder

Your content as the first step of your value ladder as it is usually your audience’s first encounter with you and your brand.

As we teach in our programs, a revenue-generating content strategy means aligning your content to your business needs.

It means closing a gap or answering a question for your ideal customers WHILE opening a new question or gap that the next rung of your value ladder addresses.

Why do I talk about the importance of strategy, systems, tools, and teams?

Because A. they are important and B. the next steps in my value ladder help you establish them!

Isn’t it interesting how the topic of structuring your offers, programs, and price points seems simple but has such a profound effect on your odds of success?

Take Action

While this is fresh in your mind, I’d suggest writing down your current (or planned) value ladder as it stands right now.

Then consider the rules we just described and see if any changes make sense for yours:

  1. Build and launch each rung as fast as you can
  2. Build from the top down
  3. Have a proportional “distance” between the rungs in terms of price, value, etc.
  4. Strongly consider having all of the rungs be recurring / monthly / annual pricing
  5. Consider your content as the first rung of your value ladder
Whenever you’re ready, here’s how I can help:

Solo to Virtual CEO™ – Training + Community: All of our core training in one community! Includes courses and detailed tutorials for each of the nine foundational elements all online businesses need and our Expert Business Operating System for planning and managing your entire business…

Solo to Virtual CEO™ – DIY/DWY/DFY: All of the above plus our entire tech platform (DIY), daily coaching/support (DWY), and MY team working FOR YOU (DFY) to build your expert business…

Expert Business Content Engine: Done-For-You content editing, repurposing, and publishing! We help you create and publish content at scale across all channels (YouTube, Podcast, Blog, Socials)…

Saturday Spotlight 💡

Content Spotlight:​

video preview

I reveal the 9 essential systems all online businesses need for success. You can’t build an income and impact-generating online business if you’re missing even one of these systems because they all work together to enable growth. If you’re not making at least 6 figures in revenue, it’s because you’re missing one or more of these systems.

Tool Spotlight:​

Big Descript Updates – Descript

A rundown of the things Descript CEO Andrew Mason is most excited about with the release of Underlord, a powerful AI editing assistant that helps you make human content at inhuman speed.

Descript is our preferred editing tool for beginners and anyone DIY’ing their content editing and repurposing.

In fact, we INCLUDE it in our ACCELERATE suite of tools.

It just got major updates this week that make our content engine systems even easier and faster.

News Spotlight:​

Instagram Clarifies Advice on Single Word CTAs – Social Media Today

Yikes, this is one of the things that works great on IG. The idea of in your content saying “drop #tools below and I’ll send you XYZ” and then starting a DM conversation is the #1 way today to generate business of of IG.

It sounded like they were going to kill reach for those types of posts but the clarification makes more sense and seems to indicate this is still ok…

David Ziembicki

CEO, Expert Business Agency

David Ziembicki is the founder and CEO of the Expert Business Agency, which helps coaches, course, and membership creators build their online businesses. David has been an industry-leading technology and business consultant for over 25 years having worked at Microsoft, Deloitte, SAIC, and Avanade.