This may be a bold opinion, but a self-liquidating offer (or SLO) funnel is NOT the be all end all strategy that other leaders in the digital marketing space claim it to be.

That’s not to say that SLO funnels can’t be profitable, they absolutely can be!

But I’ve seen so many make the mistake of believing that they can just have a SLO funnel that they can put minimal effort into and that it will make them millions.

That’s not how it works.

A SLO funnel is an amazing lead generation tool that can offset your ad spend and be profitable when tied in to your other offers and overall marketing strategy, but only if you know how to properly execute it.

In today’s episode of The Hirsh Marketing Underground Podcast, I’m sharing all of my team’s 2020 self-liquidating offer funnel best practices. If you’re considering creating a SLO funnel in the new year, or if you tried to implement one in 2020 that you couldn’t manage to get converting, you don’t want to skip this one!

After tuning in, I’d love to know how this episode inspires you to create (or improve!) your own SLO funnel. Feel free to slide in my DM’s on Instagram (@emilyhirsh) and let me know.

If you need support creating and executing a SLO funnel (among others) in your business in 2021, head to helpmystrategy.com to apply to work with Team Hirsh before we hit capacity on our client and student roster!

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Emily Hirsh: 

Hello everybody, welcome back to the podcast. I hope that you are spending today that this releases with famil if you celebrate Christmas and it’s Christmas Eve. I know I will be unplugged and offline and I’m looking forward to lots of quality family time. My whole family is coming here to my house, so we will have a very full house, including like people sleeping in my office. So it’s going to be really fun. And I am excited to spend time with my dad and my brothers, and my mom’s coming after Christmas, and really just have a lot of unplugged time, which I value so much and have done a really great job this year, prioritizing. And it’s made a big difference in my life and I’ll spend the week after Christmas really taking it easy since we’re not going anywhere. I am going to be working a little bit, but I’m going to use it as like content free space, white space on my calendar, get stuff done and then a lot of planning for the new year, just personal planning and personal goals and reflecting. So I love taking the week in between Christmas and New Year’s to spend time doing that, and then of course spend lots of time with my kids, but I’ll still thankfully have some nanny help so I can do some things for myself too, like that planning and self-care. 

So today I want to dive into a new funnel, best practices, which it’s going to be the self-liquidating offer funnel. The last podcast episode I did was webinar best practices, just 2020 what’s working, what’s not working with these funnels, and I’m going to do a couple more of them to finish off the year. But today we’re going to dive into self-liquidating offer funnels, which really picked up a lot of traction in 2020. 

There’s a lot of people trying to do a self liquidating offer funnel, or maybe having one that is successful, and we actually did a whole series on self-liquidating offer funnels in July because I was seeing and have been seeing so much success with them, but there’s a few key things to making them successful that most people don’t realize, even honestly, the people teaching it who have had successful ones don’t fully give you the big picture of what it takes to have a successful self-liquidating offer funnel. So if you’re listening to this and you’re like, “what is a self-liquidating offer funnel?” It’s also referred to as a SLO funnel, SLO, and it basically means you sell a small price digital product with usually upsells. So you have a $27 offer. It goes add to that $27 offer, and then maybe you offer them another, you know, $17 thing on your order bump on your order form, you’ve got a little box that says, “yes add this on,” and on the same thank you page you’ve got an upsell for $97.

There’s tiny, micro digital product offers, and typically you’re running it from the ad straight to that sale. So it’s a lot like an e-commerce physical product strategy because you’re going ad to sale versus like a webinar strategy where you’re going ad to webinar and then you’re selling on that webinar. So that’s kind of the difference with it, and they picked up a lot of traction this year for a few reasons. One, because there was a couple of people who started teaching it, created like a membership about it and had success with it, and then started teaching that to their audience. And so a lot of people started following their systems and doing that as well. But also, I think this year, a lot of people started buying small priced digital products because they were this low risk, very high reward for their product.

So one of the keys is, which I’m going to talk about in the best practices, is that first offer has to be absolutely incredible. Like, it has to be a no brainer for that low price. I’m going to buy this, I’m going to get a quick reward. I like to call it that it’s a tool, and the mistake people make is they will sell like a video training or a mini course or something that takes a lot of time for somebody to go through when what works the best is selling like a tool or a template. You’ve probably seen a massive social media calendar planning, or you’ve seen like ours is a toolkit. So it has all these tools like ad copy, swipe file and a projection calculator and actual things that somebody can buy and then use, and that works the best as that first product. But I think the reason, one of the reasons why SLO funnels took off so much in 2020 is that people wanted those very valuable, low priced offers. And they really started buying them because it was that low risk, very high reward, instant gratification in buying that. 

So here are my best practices for SLO funnels. The first I kind of already talked on, but the first offer that you have, that very front of your SLO funnel has to be incredibly enticing. I don’t recommend it’s like a video or a training or a masterclass or something that’s going to take a lot of time for someone, because then you automatically have that objection of time. So the first one I recommend it’s some sort of tool or template or a swipe file or a combo of those that if I buy it, I will instantly see results. I will instantly be able to utilize this and save myself time, save myself money, do something cool with it. It’s that tool. And then your upsell can be the systems that you use for that tool. 

But where people get confused is they’ll be like, “well, I have to sell the system before I can sell the tool.” And while you might think in your head, “well, the best thing is for someone to buy the system before they buy the tool,” at the end of the day, they want the tool. Your audience wants that, like I said, fast reward, high reward, I can use it right now, it doesn’t cost me a lot of time. They want that. So if you can make that first offer super enticing, it will just sell a lot easier and it will be a lot more successful. So that’s the first best practice that you follow that kind of tool format and your first offer is a no brainer. Honestly, you should be able to genuinely charge three to five times what you sell it for. Not like the fake, you know, it’s valued at $10,000 for $27, but really you could confidently sell it for three to five times the cost. If you feel that, and it is there, it will be a successful SLO funnel because people will just love and want that product. Okay. 

The next best practice is to make sure you create a big enough average cart value. So that means you can’t just sell that first product. And most likely you will not be profitable if you are just selling a digital product for $27, and that is your strategy and that’s all you’re selling. When you go to run numbers on ads, you’re going to quickly see that it will be very hard to be profitable. So my recommendation is that you have upsells, you have things that create a much bigger average cart value, ideally at least a hundred dollars. And even then we’re going to talk about how it should lead to something even bigger. 

So your average cart value, you really want to be even like around $97 and you want it to be that or above. What your average cart value means, if you take all the people who bought from you and then all the money you made from those people and you divide it, what’s that number that you get? Because obviously, some people will buy the upsell, some won’t, some will add the order bumps, some won’t. What’s the average amount you’re making per customer? That’s going to help you understand how much you can pay to acquire a new customer with your ads. So make sure you don’t go into this with just thinking if you see someone with a successful SLO funnel and you’re like, “oh they’re selling a $27 offer. That’s all I have to do is get that to convert.” It’s wrong because the reason they’re successful and making money is what’s happening on the backend of the SLO funnel. And I sometimes think people treat SLO funnels like, “oh, this is just the easy funnel to do and I’ll make a bunch of money from it, and it’s the minimal effort from me.” And it’s not true. SLO funnels are not easy. 

There is no such thing as an easy funnel, that does not exist to get something just converting super easily. You have to put effort and work into everything that you do. And so if you choose to do a SLO funnel, you’re going to still have to put effort and work and arguably even more, because it’s harder to get someone to buy something than it is to sign up for a free webinar. Now also you’ve got to get that webinar to convert. So there’s pros and cons to all of it, but it’s not easy. If you’re choosing a SLO funnel because you’re like, “oh, that’s the easy way to make a million dollars or have a successful funnel, and I saw dah do it,” don’t choose it for that reason. You need to have an optimized funnel, and the important piece is that you do have a big enough average cart value, because if all you make per customer is $20 on a digital product, it will be very hard to be profitable with your ads. Okay. All right. 

The third best practice for SLO funnels is to lead to something bigger and more expensive on the backend. So you’ll have your upsells where you have your $27 offer, and then maybe you’ve got, like I said, a $17 order bump and like a $97 upsell. That’s your SLO funnel. And then what are you doing with those leads? In my opinion, there might be some people who disagree with me, but in my opinion, a SLO funnel is a lead generation tool. You’re getting leads. You’re hopefully paying for those leads, maybe profiting like two times your ad spend, but you’re hopefully making some money off your SLO funnel. It’s not going to be massively profitable. So ideally you have something higher ticket and a bigger picture that you’re sending people to, whether that’s a membership, a software product, a thousand dollar course, a service. 

So for me, it would be a service and I’d send people to our application. I highly recommend you tie your SLO funnel into that bigger thing. If you don’t have it yet, just plan to do this. And how that could look is you have a SLO funnel and you have those upsells, and then you’re sending those leads to a webinar. And then on that webinar, you’re pitching your bigger thing. And that’s absolutely fine. You don’t have to go straight to the bigger thing. I think people get confused with they’re like, “how do I go $27 offer to $97 offer, to a thousand dollar offer?” It’s not direct. You don’t have to do it right on the page itself. You can have a webinar or some other form of a funnel in between, but still overall, you want to be sending those leads to something higher ticket, something that is your core offer. 

I don’t believe, and I know this is probably a bold statement and people will disagree with me because there are a very select few who has proven this wrong, but very, very few, because even if I think about the people who I’ve seen have very successful SLO funnels, they have backend offers. They have a mastermind or a large course that they’re selling. So I don’t even know if there’s one who’s been fully a hundred percent successful, millions of dollars in their business on just a SLO funnel. So my bold statement is I don’t think a SLO funnel is a business just having that and selling these tiny, tiny digital products. Maybe if you sold like a lot of volume and that’s all you did, and also if you had that audience, like for example, people who target teachers and people in the education space, they buy a bunch of low price products. So we have a client who has a membership and that is her core offer, but she also sells a lot of templates and small price things and she’s able to be profitable with that. But she also has her membership as her core offer. So the SLO funnel is not the end all be all. 

And that’s the mistake that so many people have made this year. And we have to correct clients coming in who are like, I just want to do a SLO funnel and we have to educate them on this exact thing of like, you can’t just do a SLO funnel. It has to go to something bigger for this to be profitable in the long run. And if you plug in, like in our projection calculator, if you start plugging in numbers, you’ll quickly see why and why that is a reality, because it’s almost impossible to make this the profitability you need. Yes, maybe you can get profitability on just the ad spend, but that’s not going to pay for your whole business. That’s not a profitable business model. You need to have that bigger thing. So if you don’t have it now, or if you do use a SLO funnel to gather leads, it’s a lead generation tool. It’s not just a sales tool and that’s it and that’s your only business strategy. You’re gathering leads to then take those leads into a core offer, like I said, membership, mastermind, high ticket service, larger course that’s like a thousand dollars or more, a software would work. Anything that is your core offer and the SLO funnel is the method to getting them there, the lead generation tool to taking them there. Okay. All right. I have two more best practices. 

The next one is it’s really important when you are running ads that are straight to a product that you have a lot of variety in your ads, and you’re testing a lot of different angles. You can’t just have one or two creative versions of ads running to that product. You have to have variety in your ads that lead to that bigger product. And it’s like, e-commerce, it gets even more important in your messaging that you hook the person in that ad because that ad is doing most of the selling for you. Whereas a free webinar, there’s a lot less of a risk for me to go sign up for a free webinar. Whereas if you’re convincing me to buy something, then you have to really do it in that ad. So testing Instagram Reels, GIFS, animated images, 15 second or less quick videos. Very, very compelling copy that talks about your offer, why it’s different and what problem it solves. And then making sure you have that variety in your ads that lead to that SLO funnel is very important. 

And I think people do overlook this because they think like, “okay, I’ll get the good product. I’ll make the sales page and I’ll just run ads to that and it will work.” And the ad, like I said, has to do the selling. So always important to have good creative and good messaging in your ads, but it’s even more important arguably with a SLO funnel because you’re convincing people to buy it within that ad. So make sure you have that variety leading to there. And then to add on this, to add on the ads piece, make sure you have retargeting. So let’s say your funnel is this main product with an upsell and then your goal is to send people to an application, and maybe you have a webinar in there. Well, you want to retarget all the leads who came into your SLO funnel to that webinar. And so this becomes a part of one massive funnel strategy that you’re directing people to the different steps. So make sure to build out that complete picture ads strategy to get the most return on your ad spend. Okay. 

My final best practice that I’ll add in here is if you’re having a hard time getting that SLO funnel to convert, so if you’re having a hard time going ad to the sale, and you’re just not getting sales, maybe you’re getting a lot of clicks, but it’s just not converting, one thing you can do is put just an opt-in on the front end and then put the self-liquidating offer on the thank you page. So that way you can start also gathering leads and you’re not spending a ton of money getting traffic with no information for that traffic. So for example, you could have your $27 offer on the thank you page of this really valuable PDF guide. I would recommend it be like an opt-in, not a webinar because that’s going to get you a more expensive cost per lead, but if you had something that’s very easy to download. 

So for me, it’d be like the Hirsh Marketing Report, or maybe our case studies. And we do have our self-liquidating offer funnel on the thank you page of those. So I’m getting those leads and then I’m going to get a percentage of those people to buy my product. And so if you’re having trouble selling that first step, this is a strategy you could do so that you can still gather leads and get some SLO funnel sales, but you’re not wasting a ton of money with nothing really to show for it. So if you’re struggling with that, or if you’re new and you have to test your messaging, this might be a good strategy option. It’s also referred to as like a tripwire, and it’s just a way for you to make sure you’re getting the name and email address of somebody while also sending traffic to your self liquidating offer funnel. 

Now you have to make sure that that opt-in is extremely valuable because that will be important in getting like you want $2-$3 leads if you can to an opt-in. If you’re paying a ton cost per lead, you may as well just send people to a webinar. If you’re paying $8 for your opt-in lead, and then you’re going to a SLO funnel, it’s going to cost you a lot of money because only a small percentage of people, maybe 10%, are going to buy on that thank you page. And I was actually even high sometimes. So that’s an option if you’re having a hard time getting it to convert. 

Final thing I want to say that I was thinking of as I was talking, and this isn’t a best practice, but I want to touch on this cause it’s very important, is selling a book and doing the free plus shipping model for a book. Somebody could see that as a SLO funnel because the book price is low and then there’s upsells. And I did, I think I did a podcast about the problem, I did a podcast about the problem with paid challenge funnels. I don’t know if I’ve talked about the book funnel. Here’s the thing. A book is not a good option. Unless you have a huge name and you are a big influencer with a big following who already will buy your book like Russell Brunson, like Rachel Hollis, like those names, it will not work for you because a book is not an enticing offer. 

To be honest, let me ask you this. If you saw an ad for somebody who you had no idea who they are and you saw a book, would you buy it? Not knowing who they are and not knowing any credibility around the book and the information in the book, would you buy it? I’m guessing your answer is no. I know my answer is no because reading a book costs so much time for me and is already a big objection. I need to make sure this book is going to be good, and to be honest, there’s a lot of crappy books out there these days. And everybody thinks I can just write a book and do a free plus shipping book funnel because Russell Brunson said so, and it’s not a SLO funnel. I don’t recommend it. I have a book. We do not run cold traffic ads to that book. I included it in other ways, I sell it on my website. I give my book away to all our clients and our students. I still think a book is an amazing tool to share your methods and your process and or tell your story or whatever you’re using your book for. It is not an enticing enough offer to run cold traffic ads to a book and get people to buy it at a profitable rate. You might lose money on it and be okay with that because maybe you’re using that as a lead gen visibility tool, but it is not a good enough offer because it’s not. If people don’t know you, they’re not going to buy the book. 

And so I’ve spoken openly about that. Same with the paid challenge funnel. I have the same problem with that. If I do not know you, I am not going to pay to participate in your challenge because it’s going to cost me a ton of time and I don’t trust your content yet. I haven’t built that trust with you. Yes, it’ll work for Russell Brunson. It’ll work for those people who have that name and that credibility already, but it’s a disservice for them to then go say everybody should go and do this and this is a converting funnel without taking into consideration, you have a completely different audience, a completely different offer, and that has to be considered with your marketing. So I want to mention that because going back to my first point, that the first offer has to be super enticing. A book is not super enticing. A video training is not super enticing. And this has to be a tool, or a template, or something that I cannot get anywhere else. It is three to five times the value I’d be willing to pay for it and it’s a no brainer that I should buy it. Okay?

All right you guys, those are my self liquidating offer funnel best practices. And I want to mention if you are considering working with Hirsh Marketing, our calendar is so packed and booked from our secret podcast series last week that I would get on our calendar, I’d go to helpmystrategy.com, I’d see if you qualify to work with us. And we have two different options. We’ve got our completely done for you agency, and then I have my done with you program, where we take you through the trainings and the materials and coach you with one-on-one calls to achieving your marketing success. We’re going to be going into 2021. I want you to think about this year and how you’re going to achieve your marketing goals. You’ve probably set revenue goals and business goals. How are you going to take your marketing to the next level? We would love to partner with you if you are the right fit to work with us. And we’ll tell you if you are not through our application and through our process, but if you’re considering it, go to helpmystrategy.com and get your application in. We only have a few spots. We actually had to start limiting spots to our course night because we offer those one-on-one calls, and so the success coach can only handle so many. So we’ve got a number and then once it’s capped, you’ve got to go on a waiting list to get in. So make sure you get in, otherwise, I’ll talk to you guys next week.