One of the most fascinating business figures of all time is the legendary P. T. Barnum. Best known for his sideshows and establishing the Barnum & Bailey Circus, Barnum knew how to draw an audience. He was known to say, “There’s a sucker born every minute” in regards to his ability to get people to pay to view hoaxes.

In reality, he knew how to make a show out of delivering his performative type of humor. Essentially, he was delivering entertainment, not reality. His viewers were actually skeptical and most enjoyed being in on the joke. In fact, Barnum declared his hoaxes, “…advertisements to draw attention…to the Museum. I don’t believe in duping the public, but I believe in first attracting and then pleasing them.” From his promotion of the Cardiff Giant to his hilariously bad Fiji mermaid, Barnum found ways to not only attract his audience but also keep them coming back.

“There’s a sucker born every minute.” – P.T. Barnum

Similarly, the internet today is full of hype. From click-bait to free offers, most people have become skeptical of online information. Furthermore, we hesitate to turn over our email addresses as currency in exchange for information of questionable value. While websites promise they won’t “abuse” your information, the chance that they will send spam outweighs the promise beside that web form.

However, you can still find landing page after landing page with the same weak marketing offers.

4 Weak Marketing Offers That You See Everywhere… and What to Make Instead

Putting together an offer that equals the exchange of an email address requires raising its value. Otherwise, those contacts will really feel like suckers. Then, their frustration makes them less likely to become customers.

Below are alternatives to those weak marketing offers that you see everywhere.

eBooks that are really Brochures

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen an eBook offer that turns out to be an extra-wordy brochure. Most of the time, they just repackage a sales packet with a pretty front cover. While brochures have a purpose, using them as an eBook offer is basically a bait-and-switch. Throwing some client testimonials next to key features does not usually interest audiences at those early stages of the process. They’ll feel cheated and you’ll lose trust.

Instead try curating a collection of articles. To create this type of eBook, get key players at your organization to write 1000 to 3000 words on a topic they are passionate about. It should be related to best practices in your field. You can even use people from partner organizations, suppliers, or vendors. Just remind them not to “sell”.

Once you put these together, you have a valuable tool with information relevant to your industry that does more than turn your brochure into a book.

Courses that Don’t Teach Anything

With the success of both online subscriptions and youtube tutorials, it’s tempting to churn out a series of your own. Except, some companies put together videos that don’t really teach anything. Instead, they just ramble about their organization and maybe cite some industry facts.

Not only is this boring, it doesn’t deliver as promised. The value on these is low and a user will feel betrayed for signing up.

Instead, try a virtual walk-through. This will only work if part of the walk-through remains outside of a gate. Leave a few interesting areas or “easter eggs” that can only be accessed by signing up. It can be a really interesting and genuine way to show people your company. If you think of them as a documentary, with all the dramatic arcs of storytelling, this video can be compelling and interesting. Bonus points if you find an interesting way to organize the video as they travel through your space.

Demos that are a Sales Pitch

Demos, whether live or recorded, should actually show what the product does. However, so many of them fail to answer basic questions. Then, when you submit a question, you’re told that only users can find out that information. In reality, it’s a sneaky sales tactic to get to start a trial or move into a purchase without understanding the product fully. Software companies can be especially bad about this because their product is easy to “return”. Either way, signing up for a demo is disappointing when you are actually connected with a pitch that wants to sell you more than help you.

Instead, try publishing a video series based on frequently asked questions. By breaking the videos into small segments focused on a single question, your prospective buyers can jump to the information that interests them most.

Also, you can create a very “sticky” path that helps prioritize prospective customers. The more videos they watch, the closer they are to buying. Then, you can employ that data to make the hard sell at the right time.

Checklists and Cheat Sheets that Feel Lightweight

Swapping an email address for a single-page document always feels like an imbalance of value. Some cheat sheets are amazing. Others look like they were put together in 30 minutes. If a website visitor has to submit their email to find out, they likely won’t.

Instead, try developing a guide that gives thorough instructions for your checklist or cheat sheet. Keep the one-pager outside of the gate. Then, use it to tease people into downloading the entire guide. By ensuring that each item on the shortlist is covered in the guide, you deliver more value and raise your brand’s authority.

Come One. Come All for Better Marketing Offers

Despite P.T. Barnum’s adage, most people aren’t suckers. So, you shouldn’t tease them with unsatisfactory offers. Instead, swap weak offers for ones that provide actual value. If you make sure that your content pleases visitors then, their website conversion will actually turn into a long-term relationship.