The Death of the "Tripwire"

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By Ryan Lee

Lately, a lot of people in Internet marketing world have been using the term, "Tripwire" - and I think it's disturbing.

A "tripwire" is basically a low-cost product someone buys and then, offered more products as upsells. It's a way to get a prospect buying with a low-friction offer. And you get them into your funnel

The idea is solid - and essentially what we used to call a "front-end" offer. I've used these for over a decade.

However, this week I started to think differently. Not about the "idea" of a tripwire, but the actual term used.

I meet every month with a tight knit group of 3 other entrepreneurs. They have become family. During that last meeting where we took over a booth at the Silver Star Diner in Norwalk, CT for about 3 hours - one of our members, Michael Fishman (a highly respected marketing consultant and a true master of words), first brought it up. We were talking about front-end products and offers. The term "tripwire" was mentioned and immediately he said, "The term tripwire is disrespectful to your customers. Think about what it really means. It means you are tricking your customers. A tripwire is about pain and deception".

He then later said, "If someone brought up the word "tripwire" at Zappos and tried to introduce it to their culture - it would immediately be eliminated".

It hit me like a ton of bricks. He was 100% right.

2014 04 17 soldier setting tripwire The Death of the Tripwire

Soldier setting a deadly tripwire.

Check out one of the definitions of a tripwire in wikipedia: tripwires are frequently used in boobytraps, whereby a tug on the wire (or release of tension on it) will detonate the explosives.

Think about that for a minute. It's literally an explosion. A boobytrap (yes, I said booby - you can stop giggling now). And this usually results in serious injury or even DEATH.

Right now you might be thinking, "Relax Ryan, it's just a marketing term. You and Michael are over thinking it. It's just semantics."

Maybe we are. But maybe we aren't.

Maybe, just maybe, this is what's WRONG with the direction Internet marketing has been heading. And this environment is becoming toxic (one of the reasons I haven't spoken at or attending a "marketing" event in almost 2 years).

The words we use have power. Words can tear apart families. Words can topple Governments. Words can change the world.

And we have to be very careful with the words we choose to become part of our industry lexicon.

How would YOU feel if you just bought a product and found out the owner of that product is smiling because you "setoff a tripwire". Does it make you feel good about that purchase? Do you want to buy more from them? Do you want to refer other people to them? Do you want your parents, siblings, spouse, or children setting off tripwires?

Look, I LOVE marketing. Love it. Love it. Love it. I live and breathe marketing. I can't imagine doing anything else in this world. It flows through my veins. And I love coming up with new marketing concepts and ideas.
When I coined the term "Nano Continuity" a few years back, it was based on a low-priced continuity program at $5 and under.

Sure, I could have called it "Under the Radar Continuity" or "Ninja Continuity" or even something catchy like "Camouflage Continuity" - but those have a negative feel. They are sneaky, like you are trying to hide it from the customer - which was never the intent. The intent was to start a relationship with a customer at a low price point.

But there's a better way.


2014 04 17 welcome mat The Death of the Tripwire

A better way... the Welcome Mat.

I was speaking with my friend, and copywriting legend, Kevin Rogers about this topic and term. And while we were discussing alternatives, he came up with a great one. It just feels good and sets up a positive relationship with your future customer.

Goodbye "tripwire". Hello WELCOME MAT.

Ahh… that just feels good. You can't say "welcome mat" and not get those warm and fuzzies all over. It feels better deep in your soul.

Seriously, say those words loud right now and pay close attention to how you feel?

First, say "tripwire". Then say "welcome mat". Do you feel the difference? Does your body posture change? Does one make you feel better than the other? (If tripwire makes you feel better - you are likely a sociopath and need professional help. Seriously).

I want to go out and create dozens of new welcome mats. It gets me excited. I feel good about that. But the idea of creating tripwires feels like I'm starting a war.

Instead of starting off with tricking them into a tripwire - you are welcoming them into your world with a welcome mat.

Instead of setting tripwires… you can place welcome mats.

This might sound like a pipe dream. And perhaps I am dreaming. Maybe too many just want to put on war paint, play soldier and "extract" money from their customers.

But maybe one day we all stop with the BS. And the tricks. And the deception. And the sneakiness.

And we focus on putting out good products with a solid offer - then build a long term relationship.

The world of "online marketing" or "Internet marketing" will always been seen as shady as long as we continue to treat our customers as people who need to be tricked into buy from us. Or worse, treating them as an enemy in a battlefield.

And this all starts with something as simple as the words we choose. I propose we no longer call these introductory products "tripwires" and instead refer to them as "welcome mats".

This is not meant to be a personal attack on any one person. But, at the very least, it's a conversation worth having.

About the Author

Ryan Lee has a borderline obsession with entrepreneurship and independence. His life mission is to help as many people as he can live a better life.

Ryan started his first web site back in 1999 while still working full-time. That site was to promote his sideline personal training business which grew into a massive empire spanning multiple markets which now generate 7-figures per month of income in everything from health and nutrition to software and membership sites.

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