High Bar Offers: Why Your Campaign May Be Asking Too Much

In the demand generation business, we often talk about “low bar” and “high bar” offers.  The bar in either case is the level of time, effort, and commitment required of the prospect or person registering for said offer.  So, for example, on a spectrum from low to high:

high bar offers* a white paper is a low bar offer (very little asked of the prospect)

* a Webinar is a low bar offer (though not as low as a white paper because of the additional time commitment)

* a demo or free trial is a high bar offer (due to the time and resources required)

* a consultation or meeting is a high bar offer (not only due to the time required but, like a demo or free trial, it requires that the prospect be at a stage in the sales process or otherwise is feeling enough “pain” where he/she is ready to meet with sales.)

It’s critical that the type of offer – and where that offer falls on the low bar to high bar spectrum – is consistent with the recipient’s awareness of you and your solution, and where that individual is on the buyer’s journey.  High bar offers, in particular, are likely to be wholly inappropriate, and ineffective, for anything but the most qualified leads possessing a high degree of familiarity with your brand.

It’s ironic then, that in an Age of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and Intent Data and IP-based Advertising, when B2B marketers are looking for any short cut possible to find, meet, engage, and close the prospect who is ready to buy, that high bar offers are more and more popular.  For ABM campaigns in particular, it’s become something of an accepted truth that if you’re going to the trouble of constructing a highly personalized, highly orchestrated, multi-channel, multi-touch campaign, then naturally you want to ask the prospect for a meeting.

But even if you’ve done everything else correctly – stunning creative, personalized and relevant message, identifying the ideal personas – the wrong offer will sink your campaign anyway.  Offering a meeting with an “expert” (translation: salesperson) is a high bar, a very high bar.  And no matter how compelling your campaign in every other respect, a prospect will refuse that offer if he/she just isn’t ready to take that step.

Instead, high bar offers like meetings are best utilized:

*  As “secondary” offers on thank you pages or follow-up emails (e.g. “If you have an immediate need, contact us to schedule a meeting …”)

*  As a triggered offer to prospects exhibiting behavior consistent with an immediate need

*  As part of one-to-one sales outreach

If you’re offering the prospect a meeting as first step in any other circumstance, you’re likely eliminating the possibility of that prospect engaging, no matter what the interest in your product, simply because you’ve asked too much.  (If you’ll forgive the well-worn analogy, this is akin to making a marriage proposal on the first date.)

If you’re using meeting offers appropriately and at the right time in the process, it’s also critical that you sell that meeting effectively by communicating the value of the investment.  I wrote about how to get prospects to say “yes” to a meeting in this earlier post.

For a more detailed look at offer strategy, download our free white paper: “How to Choose Your Carrot: Effective Lead Generation Offers for High-Technology Marketers.”

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash


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