Bryony ThomasWhen I talk people through the Thirteen Touchpoint Leaks, one that almost always comes out flagged Red or Amber is Leak 4 – No Gateway. They get the idea of the fix for this in concept, which is to create a compelling product ladder. But, many struggle to visualise how this might apply in practice in their business. So, I asked Accredited Consultant, Kara Stanford, to find some examples from a range of businesses to bring the idea to life. ~ Bryony Thomas, Author – Watertight Marketing


If you don't show people an easy way to take their first step as a paying customer, they may never do so. Kara Stanford

Before a customer spends a large amount of money with your company, they will probably want to sample what it’s like to work with you or sample your products, in a relatively low-cost, risk-free manner.

A defined Product Ladder can do exactly this. This is formed of a complementary set of products or services that lead from an initial lower value, or lower risk, purchase through to a premium offering – should include a Gateway Product. This is a paid-for taster of what you do. Above this on the ladder is a Gateway Offer, which is not bought with money, but with time and data.

(Video snippet taken from Bryony’s keynote at EADIM 2014 with Drayton Bird. Unlock the whole session here.)

Two examples of Gateway Offers

Definition: A packaged introductory product or service that is procured by the buyer with just their time and data. 

A free User Experience (UX) overview of your website

A content management system (CMS) software and web design company offers their prospective customers a free UX overview of their website, delivered as pdf report and an invitation to talk them through the report.

As their prospects are housing associations and other not-for-profit organisations, there is an involved decision making unit (DMU) for IT purchases. This gateway product effectively engages marketing and communications staff, who are important in the DMU, rather than just the IT and web techie folks.

Templates and seminars

A CRM provider has developed a series of Gateway Offers for their charity sector prospects. These include 'Build the Business Case' and "Identify your Requirements" templates, as well as free seminars based on these templates. People access these in return for their email address and permission. This differs from a Lead Magnet, which is where you provide something of general interest, a Gateway Offer is directly linked to what you actually sell.

The Gateway Offers all effectively help organisations who are considering CRM change, and/or are struggling to develop the business case for senior management. They also allow the CRM provider to show that they understand the charity sector’s requirements, culture and challenges, and position themselves as a sector specialist.

Three examples of Gateway Products

Definition: A paid-for product or service that leads as a stepping stone into your core offering.

Trial packs

Global nutritional specialists, HerbaLife, offer 3-day low cost trial packs of their nutrition programmes. They are easy to use and easy for their distributors to carry with them ready to sell. They provide potential customers cost-effective way to see if they like the product, and if it works for them. HerbaLife have recently extended this idea to their new skin-care range.

A feasibility study

This specialist engineering firm, operating in the B2B sector, designs and builds complex, bespoke, highly sophisticated engineering solutions to very specific sectors. These are six figure projects,

As a stepping stone towards this, they can purchase a feasibility study and design specification report.

This approach to such a high value product has many advantages. It allows potential clients to find out what it is like to work with the firm. They can see the quality of their outputs, assess if they are happy to commit a larger budget. It can also mean that departments with lower budgetary responsibilities can engage the company for the feasibility study within their sign-off level, and then use the report to sell internally when requesting larger budgets for the bigger project.

Set course lunches

A restaurant opened up in a seasonal tourist town and had to convince the urbane visitors that they were worth spending their money with. Their Gateway Product, used by many restaurateurs, is a set three-course lunch at a third of the price of the average three-course evening meal.

The twist in this example, was that the final course was a take on the French Café Gourmand. Instead of desert, they offered a coffee with a small, rich chocolate or piece of cake, all of which changed daily to complement the menu.  Visitors and locals flocked to try this lunchtime option and shortly after, their evening bookings increased, with bookings at peak season essential for both lunch and evening service.

Gateways vary according to sector, company, product and service offering and price. However, what they all have in common is that they allow your prospects to assess what you are offering, determine if they want to move to the next step of the buying decision, and give the companies providing the Gateway  an ideal opportunity to get to know their prospective customers.

© Kara Stanford

To find out more about #4 No Gateway, take a look at these related posts:

Kara Stanford

Kara Stanford

Watertight Marketing Accredited Consultant

Kara is a strategic marketing consultant based in Hampsire. She works with ambitious business who aren’t satisfied with being ‘good enough’.

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