Stack Your Offerings

I’m about to share with you one of the most useful tools I use with around half my consulting clients.

It’s a very simple model that can help you reveal new layers of profitability.

It does not suit every business, but you may be surprised how many business it can apply to, once you try it out.

I call it “The Offering Stack” and it really means layering multiple offerings at a range of price points.

Prospect Continuum

The fact is, prospects’ needs differ. Some have more time, more skill, less pressure, and less money. Others will have no time, no available skilled people, but budget available. It’s a continuum.

Let’s say you’re an AdWords expert, and you offer your AdWords management service at $1000 per month. That’s one offering, and it’s pitched at prospects who can’t (or don’t want to) do their own AdWords management. And that’s great. They invest more cash and less time. You’re offering a premium service at one layer in the stratosphere.

But if that’s all you do, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table!

For example, you could provide a $19 “AdWords Kick-Start” ebook, which tells people how to do what you do. They have to put in the time to read the book and to practise what you tell them (so they invest less cash and more time).

But there are many layers in between too!

Ken McCarthy’s Football Game Model

ken-mccarthyIf you’ve never heard of Ken McCarthy, don’t be surprised. He isn’t out there advertising courses all over Facebook and claiming to have cracked the code to “killing it” in Internet Marketing. But Ken is one of the most brilliant and influential people in this industry.

After reading one of my books, Ken gave me my first speaking gig, which changed my life. And he’s responsible for discovering a lot of other people who are household names in Internet Marketing today. Ken ran a conference back in 1994 (the year I got into web design) that said the Web was a Direct Marketing medium (read more). He was right, of course.

I digress.. But the point is, when Ken teaches you a lesson in marketing, you pay attention.

His “Football Game” model was a lesson he told me once, and it has stuck. It’s brilliant.

Think about the choices you may have about watching any football game.

  • Most people sit at home and watch the game on TV. That’s pretty much free, other than the relatively small cost of the TV access, and the indirect costs of watching ads. The real cost to you is likely to be under $10/£5.
  • If you go to the stadium to watch, you could sit right at the back, paying a two-figure fee.
  • Or you could get tickets up near the side of the pitch, by the halfway line, and pay three figures.
  • Or if you want to make a big impression, and you have the means, you could hire a corporate box, effectively paying four figures per person.

You see how it goes up by an order of magnitude each time? But here’s the rub.

It’s the same game!

In fact… you’ll probably get a better view of the game sitting on your couch at home!

So why do some people pay a hundred times what other people pay, for the same game? Answer that, and you’ll reveal a whole new dimension of marketing!

The simple answer is, people aren’t paying for the game… They’re paying for the game packaged in a way that fulfils their needs.

  • The view of the game from the back of the stadium is worse than you get on TV, but you get the atmosphere.
  • The view from the halfway (or fifty-yard) line is great. You’re in the thick of the action. You don’t get to see everything, but that isn’t the point. It’s a treat for a sports fan.
  • The guys in the corporate boxes may not even watch all the game. But they get air-conditioning and champagne. And maybe the person who bought the tickets wasn’t buying a ball game. They’re just as likely to be buying a good impression for a client.

So everyone has different needs, which have different value to them, different-sized budgets, and there’s an offering to suit each of them.

What This Means For Your Marketing

There may be a lot of people who need what you do. You’re probably serving some of them already, maybe with products, maybe with services. It’s unlikely you’re offering both.

But the #1 most important lesson is: You Can Sell What You Do In Many Ways, To Suit Many Different Needs.

Some of them want to implement what you do themselves. They may be entrepreneurs or small business owners: small-scale, low-budget, low-risk, more free time, more determination.

For others it may be more critical to their business. These may be looking for an expert consultant to charge in and rescue the situation. These guys are large-scale, high-budget, high-risk, zero time flexibility (i.e. high urgency), and do not have the time or the desire to master these skills themselves.

Think back to the football game analogy. It’s the same thing, ultimately! It’s that thing you do.

But that doesn’t mean you have to sell it just one way!

You can sell the same thing in many ways, and at multiple different price points.

My Master Stack

Let me set out a more comprehensive Product Stack for you. Line this up against your offerings, or any client’s offerings, and see how many of the layers might apply to your case.


  • We start with free offerings.
    • Why is it critically important to put some of what you know and do out to the world at no cost? Because it shows people what value you can add!
    • I do this through this website, through doing interviews with other experts in my industry, and by speaking at large events.
    • The important thing at this end of the market is that you’re making the material once, but reaching as many people as possible.
    • You should not offer any services at this level unless you’re desperate!
  • Cheap offerings might require a one-figure investment (in £ or $).
    • These are easy ways for people to try out what you do, or who have a casual interest.
    • Cheap offerings suit the DIY (do it yourself) market, who probably have more time than money, or who need to develop skills in their own time.
  • Modest offerings may be two-figure investments:
    • This is for people who have a slightly greater need.
  • Intermediate offerings could be in your three-figure order of magnitude:
    • These are the more heavy-duty courses, which require a more significant investment.
    • So here you’re talking to serious entrepreneurs or small biz owners, or larger businesses.
    • People might expect a lot more detail at this level, worked examples and case studies.
    • You may also start offering one-on-one services at this level, such as strategic reviews, design work, or simple development projects.
  • In the four- or five-figure bracket, we’re talking about Significant investments.
    • This is where you’ll find significant consulting engagements, where people get your full focused attention, maybe on-site.
    • Another option over the $1000 mark (and sometimes below) could be hybrid versions of courses, which can include course material PLUS either one-on-one or live group coaching to reinforce the learning process. That will suit people who want to master skills faster, or for whom it represents greater value.
  • At the very top level, as I’m doing with my business, comes investing in joint ventures.
    • Here you may be investing significant time and/or money long-term, and it requires a significant commitment on both sides.

You’ll notice a few patterns in this…

  • As you go up the price scale, you deliver more service (hours) and not simply products.
  • Lower down, your market is DIY. At the higher end, people are paying for a “DFY” (done for you) service.
  • You can often carve out a space between other offerings. You don’t have to jump straight from a course (product) to a consulting offering (service). How about a hybrid of course-plus-coaching, or delivering your course as a live seminar, or even as an on-site gig? Remember: The same content, packaged differently, and with a price tag to match.

The 80:20 Perspective

This all correlates perfectly with the 80:20 principle (Wikipedia definition of 80:20).

80:20 tells us that, out of any population (market), the top 20% of earners have 80% of the wealth, and ability to spend.

And, out of that top 20%, the top 20% of them have 80% of the spending power… and so on. (It’s a fractal distribution, if you’re geeky about these things. To get the full impact of 80:20 on your marketing, get Perry Marshall’s book.)

So, let’s say you can offer something to the bottom 80% of the market, but they can’t afford even $10 so they want information for free. That’s fine, because they are actually investing something. They’re giving you their attention, which is an extremely valuable commodity. In return, they’re hopefully taking on your core message, and understanding what you offer (i.e. your global proposition).

Turning now to the 20% who can pay… crucially, we don’t just go for the lowest payer out of them!

Perry Marshall created a great free tool to go along with his 80:20 Sales and Marketing book, at The tool gives you multiple ways to put in seed data, and then lets you extrapolate unknowns, using the universal rule of 80:20.

Say we’ve discovered a market of 1000 people all of whom were prepared to pay $10 for a product. Here’s what that would look like on an 80:20 curve.


Applying 80:20, what this is telling us is, if 1000 people are prepared to pay $10 for what you offer,

  • 200 of them would have the inclination and the means to pay at least $40 (for something you offer packaged in a different way for them)…
  • The top 100 would probably pay $75 or more…
  • 50 would probably pay $200 or more.
  • The top 10 would pay at least $500.
  • And four would pay over $1000.

So, instead of just taking $1000 x $10 ($10,000 revenue) as a given, you could segment this market according to its ability to pay.

According to this model, that could give us…

  • 4 x $1000 = $4000
  • 6 x $500 = $3000 (remainder of the top 10)
  • 40 x $200 = $6000 (remainder of the top 50)
  • 50 x $75 = $3750 (remainder of the top 100)
  • 100 x $40 = $4000 (remainder of the top 200)
  • Plus a further 800 x $10 = $8000

Total revenue = $28,750… that’s 187 percent more revenue than you would have taken with one low-value product alone.

What To Do Next

I advise taking a step back and having a good hard look at any business model, and think what skills, resources or material you may have that could be repurposed into other products or services.

You may be surprised how many revenue streams you discover!

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