This is what happened when I bought something being sold by a bro marketing firm on Facebook; what the tripwires looked like; and what I learned from the experience
Wanna know a secret? I sometimes buy things for curiosity’s sake. I have a part of my budget set aside for what I call ‘knowledge reconnaissance’.
Basically if I see something that I find intriguing, or that makes sweeping claims, I’ll investigate it, if at all possible.
Pre-iOs 14, I’d seen A BUNCH of ads for a company called Traffic & Funnels – run by two dude bros. The ads were, by all accounts, not my style or flavour. I thought they looked scammy, to be honest.
The whole schtick was they taught people how to go from $0 months to $1,000,000 months.
That’s the wildest claim ever.
I mean, most seven-figure entrepreneurs I know, will tell you that it took them ten years or more to have their first 7-figure YEAR yet alone going from 0 to a million in a month.
And then, I forgot about it all.
Until last Sunday when I was served another ad by their company. This one with a generic stock photo of a woman as the picture. (Clearly, they were either refining or testing their marketing strategy).
I clicked the ad and read through.
The copy of the ad promised to show me EXACTLY and the ONLY thing I needed to do to create a constant stream of clients (no mention of perfect clients or the right clients).
It claimed to have the exact code to fill up my calendar with sales calls (which, to be honest, is not my goal – but I digress).
It said I was doing ONE thing wrong in my marketing that was easy to fix… (ummm, okay).
And this new product that was going to teach me all of this was only $27.
Ah! Cue the mini product! Hashtag-Self Liquidating Offer!
A self-liquidating offer, or SLO funnel as it’s known in the business world, is one that pays to market itself. The idea is that you create a mini product, or something low-ticket – usually $27 or $37 dollars and sell it using paid advertising.
If you spend $50 a day on the ads, you hope to sell 1.8 of your product that day to break even on the ad spend. If you sell more than that – it’s gravy.
And the bonus is that by doing this type of advertising, you are effectively growing your list for free.
So I knew if I bought it, I would be into an SLO situation. I’ve studied SLOs, had a funnel coach and been in a Mastermind on how to manage SLOs, so I’m no spring chicken when it comes to these things.
And to be clear, the SLO model is not what made this Bro-y. SLO’s are ethical and a great strategy to grow your business.
What made this bro-y was the content of the ads making sweeping wild, income claims and what came next… the tripwire experience.
I knew to be ready for a tripwire – but I didn’t realize HOW READY I needed to be.
Okay, first, you’re like ‘what’s a tripwire?’ A tripwire is also known as an OTO or One-Time-Offer.
It usually looks likes this – you opt-in to a free resource on a website or through an ad (or you buy a small $27-$37 offer). Upon purchasing, you are immediately redirected to another page making a bigger offer for you to either buy or add to your cart.
The catch is that the offer is only available on that webpage and if you click away, the offer goes away.
Think of it as a little trap door you find in the buying process that if you close, you’ll never be able to find again.
It’s part of the SLO model, because if more people buy your tripwire off a free resource or a mini product, your ad spend will be more cost effective.
I bought the $27 thing that was going to change ALL of my marketing (eye roll)… and then was promptly redirected to a tripwire for a $97 masterclass with a bunch of other bonuses that intrigued me (again, based on claims).
So I bought that one because it was within my budget.
But that’s where I tapped out on my reconnaissance spend.
However, what I noticed about the tripwire is that it was an ACTIVE OPT-OUT.
Meaning, if I didn’t scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the exact link that said ‘NO, I DO NOT WANT THIS’, it was going to include it in my order anyway.
Ummmm, shady as f**k, don’t you think?
Then this happened
Once I bought the $97 thing, I guess I didn’t click or put my credit card number in fast enough, because just as the NEXT TRIPWIRE was loading (I’ll get to that in a minute) I got a friggin’ TEXT MESSAGE from them saying there was a problem with my order and it didn’t complete.
Even though I was still in the process of completing the order.
This tells me that this company uses pressure tactics and FEAR to get people to make purchases they might not have intended to make.
Because I knew, like I knew, there was nothing wrong with my purchase.
I ignored the text message (so annoying) and moved on to finish my order… and then this happened.
Before I completed the $97 offer, I was sent to yet another OPT-OUT tripwire page. But this time it was for a $1000 program.
Like, for real.
I needed to scroll to the bottom of the page, find the ONE LINK, to tell them I didn’t want to buy their $1000 thing.
Clicked on that.
At this point, I was annoyed I bought anything from them.
This final tripwire was a one-time-offer for a payment plan for the $1000 thing I didn’t buy half a second before.
At least that’s what I think it was.
Again, it was OPT-OUT enabled, so I very carefully scrolled to the bottom and opted out to finish that hellish experience.
I got a bunch of emails with access to the program and I made a mental note to consume them over the next few days so I could see what I had wasted my money on.
The next day, in the middle of the afternoon – the company CALLED ME, out of the blue.
I answered, because I was in a meeting with my team, and promptly said ‘No thank you. Remove me from your active call list.”
They did not.
Seconds later, I got an email with the subject line:
“Re: [my phone number] does this number still work?”
Ummm… wtf. You just called me on it. Yes it still works.
I deleted the email.
Two days later – at supper time, THEY CALLED ME AGAIN.
This time, I played ball and answered. I said “Hi. I’m not interested in being upsold. I bought your product out of sheer curiosity and I’m not wanted to be coached by or consult with a company I don’t trust. Can you remove me from your active call list please.”
And then the guy, suave AF, said he wanted to send me something free before removing me, but had to gather information from me before knowing what to send.
So I played ball.
He asked what I do – I told him I own a consulting firm and executive production company.
He asked if I have a monthly revenue goal.
I said yes.
(It annoyed him that I didn’t instantly tell him what my money goals were, LOL).
He asked what I was struggling with in my business right now. I said I don’t find my business to be a struggle.
That also seemed to befuddle him.
Cuz in bro marketing – if you aren’t in PAIN or HUSTLING HARD, you’re doing something wrong… so I think the mere fact that I didn’t identify with his pain based question threw him off a bit.
Then he offered to send me the free class and told me that ‘he’d follow up in three weeks’.
Cue -him NOT respecting my boundaries or taking me off their active call list.
Well, for starters, the 0-$1M strategy is to join all the Facebook groups you can, post specific types of posts that don’t annoy the admins, make people check out your personal profile, friend as many people as possible and get them to book calls with you.
There. I just saved you $27.
And the quality of the content is just meh, in my opinion.
But beyond that, what I learned is that I can appreciate why so many people think online marketing is a scam.
If I wasn’t as savvy as I am, or if I didn’t have the wherewithal I do, I could have lost my shirt to that company in two days flat.
I never got to find out how much it costs to work with them – but the guy on the phone did squeeze in that they ‘have $2 million months’ and have more than 3500 case studies and have been in business for only six years.
My caution to you is this – if the energy feels frantic? If you feel like your door is being literally knocked down by a company who’s only branding or marketing claim is how much money THEY MAKE, then your spidey senses should be on high alert.
Your gut is right. And bro-marketing, whether it’s done by a man or a woman, is gross.
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CEO, Erin Trafford | Story & Strategy, Co-Founder Story Studio Network
Erin works with creative entrepreneurs to help them unlock their Stories and find a path to strategic alignment with their content. She blogs and podcasts about content strategy and business on this site and on Permission to Leap.
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