🪜 The Value Ladder Framework (And how it works)

Hey friend 👋

Hello and welcome to Listen UP IH.

Today I'll talk about the value ladder framework. It's a simple idea that can help any solo business grow and it should be applied by every creator and indie hacker.

But before we get into it, a quick shout out to a fellow indie hacker -

Shoutout of the week

This week’s shout out is for the Mac productivity app Elephas by Kamban.

It’s a very interesting application of generative AI that I haven’t seen anywhere else before. I’ve also witnessed Kamban build the app from scratch, and in public.

Recently he went passed $500 MRR which is amazing because he’s had 10+ failed projects before this over the last few years.

He even quit his job to go all in on Elephas!

His story is truly inspirational.

Today Elephas is on Product Hunt, let’s support a fellow Indie Hacker 💪

Check out Elephas on PH.

Now, onto today’s topic -

The Value Ladder Framework

Hypothetical question -

If your dream customer walked up to you and asked you, what's the most expensive thing I can buy from you? How much is it?

What will you answer?

  • $100
  • $1000
  • $10000

Or more?

Do you think they will buy from you immediately? Just as you make that offer?

The answer depends on many factors -

  • Can they pay that much?
  • How much do they trust you?
  • Do they think you're equipped to solve their problem

It's hard to get someone to pay for your offers if they're hearing about you for the first time. It's like meeting a stranger on the street and asking them for a thousand dollars.

They're not going to pay you.


If you introduce yourself to them, over time give them great value and build trust.

Offer some low priced products to explain to them that their investment in you won't go to waste.

And then, when they're ready, and they trust you, and they truly believe that you can solve their problem, they will take you up on your most expensive offer.

That's how I got a $1000 client within 24 hours of launching my ghostwriting service.

My premium clients didn't discover me 1 day, and bought the $1000 plan the next day. They had been following me for a while, consuming my content and testing out my low priced products before making a larger commitment.

It's a Ladder

A ladder is a good analogy to think about this idea.

Think of your work as laying out a ladder for your dream customer.

Each rung is a new offer, more valuable (and expensive) than the previous one. And your customers climb them up one by one.

Nobody reaches the top rung in one go, they get there one step at a time.

So if you're creating info products, your value ladder can look like this -

  • Free Content (Twitter, Newsletter, blogs)
  • Free guides, cheat sheets
  • Low priced eBooks, courses
  • High priced courses, community
  • Premium priced coaching, consulting

And if you're building software products, your value ladder can look like this -

  • Free version (limited features)
  • Low priced version (limited usage and features)
  • High priced version (full feature set)
  • Premium priced (Full features + priority onboarding and support)

This framework is also beautiful because as you grow, you make higher value offers and you witness your customers grow with you. I know so many people who've enjoyed my free content and products for a long time.

And then when they felt ready they got my higher priced products and services.

How to apply this framework

It's tempting to look at the value ladder and craft the expensive offers first. But it can be a huge mistake.

The beauty of the value ladder framework is that you create the rungs with your customers as they grow. With every low priced offer you get feedback from your audience -

  • Is it valuable or not?
  • Does this problem matter to them?
  • Are you capable of solving this problem?

These signals help you in crafting the next rung exactly based on the need of your customers. So it never happens that you build something and  nobody wants it.

This also beautifully overlaps the transformation framework I've written about before.

Each rung is a specific transformation.

You're helping your customers achieve a transformation and learning about the next transformation they will need.

You never build anything blind.

For SaaS products this means you build a core set of initial features in your MVP. Solve 1 transformation for the user.

And then iterate based on customer feedback. Figure out the next set of problems they face and improve the product.

Thank you for reading 🙌

That's it from me this week.

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