The decision to put your prices on your site is a strategic one for your business. In some ways it can make you feel vulnerable.
But ask yourself: What does my prospective customer want and need?
Studies have shown the consumers want to see prices of products and services. Even a price range is sufficient. But many business owners have reasons why they prefer to not include pricing on their websites.
How can you decide which way to go? Here are some pros and cons to consider:
YES: Nine reasons to put your fees and prices on your website
- Trust. Many potential customers will not do business with a company that is not forthcoming about pricing and fees. They simply won’t waste their time talking with a sales rep only to find out that the price is too high, or that the price is too low, which may feel cheap or low quality to them.
- Price Range. Customers want to know what they’re going to pay for your service or product, or at least have a ballpark figure. It helps them with budgeting.
- Unaffordability Beliefs. Some customers believe (perhaps incorrectly) that if the price is not shown, then it must be a very high price. They reason that if they aren’t shown the price, they probably can’t afford it.
- Efficiency. People who can’t afford your services or products will not request a prospect sales phone call. Hear me out: do you want to spend time convincing people on the phone that they can afford you, when they really think they can’t or don’t see the value you are offering? It’s hard to have sales meetings with people who have unrealistic expectations because they don’t know the fees. Trying to convince them is a hard-sell tactic that I choose to avoid.
- Branding. Pricing is a strategic marketing decision and helps to set your brand apart from others. Are you the low-cost leader? Are you the expert who people pay more for because you’re worth it? Your fees tell the prospective customer where you place yourself among the others in your industry and which target market you want to serve. There is no right or wrong pricing strategy. The key is that you’ve developed a pricing alignment strategy while doing your marketing and branding plans.
- Discounting. For products and classes, there’s typically no negotiation in pricing: either they purchase it or they don’t. If you want a tiered pricing approach for your products and classes, you can either offer coupon codes or separate landing pages for those who will get your discounted pricing, while keeping your full-price offer on your website as well. If you don’t plan to offer discounts, you can offer payment plans, if that helps your customer with a buying decision. If you offer special pricing for nonprofits, put your regular fees on your website and add a sentence about the availability of nonprofit pricing.
- Budgeting. If people feel like they can’t afford you, but want to work with you, they now have a price-point from which they can start savings towards working with you. I have had a number of clients tell me that they saved for three months in order to work with me.
- Honoring. Your customers are busy and time-constrained. They need information at the moment when they have time to do their research. Don’t make them jump through hoops. Try to be helpful in getting them all the information they need, not just in your pricing, but in the valuable benefits you offer.
- Information Gathering. People who are looking for a price range so they can get some budgeting ideas may be a perfect customer for you. One of the important stages your customers’ sales process is the Information Gathering phase when they are researching possible solutions. Get to know your prospective customer’s process for making buying decisions and plan your marketing accordingly. This is especially true when marketing to women: they do a lot of research before they buy.
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NO: Ten reasons not to put your fees and prices on your site
- Customized Services or Products. Sometimes you can’t list your prices, because each person gets a customized quote based on what they need from you, like a home builder or a website designer. But you can offer packages with a note that says, “Fees start at…” for each package. Or show them examples of your work and indicate what each of those project fees were.
- Competition. You’re afraid your competition will find out how much you charge. Bad news: your competition already knows what you charge. It’s easy for them to have a friend pose as a prospective customer and get your entire price list. Or your customers tell others what they paid. You are going to have a tough time keeping your pricing private, especially in the internet age.
- Value and Selling Strategy. You feel that they need to talk with you first, so that you can show them how valuable your service is, before quoting them a price. That is the job of your website copywriting. If your website is written well, it will easily show someone whether you can solve their problem and that the price they’ll pay is worth it. Then, when a prospective customer finally does call you, they’ve already been pre-sold by your website and you don’t have to struggle to convince them of anything. I figure if a sales rep needs to speak with me, it’s because they think the product or service “needs explaining,” or that they need to “handle my objections.” Neither is a good excuse to waste my time on something that doesn’t need explaining or should have been explained thoroughly on the website. Need help with your copywriting? Read my blog post on 6 Copywriting Steps for Non-Copywriters.
- Rapport. Your service is based on your personality and your rapport with your customers. Therefore, they need to speak with you in order to make the human connection and see if it’s a good fit. I agree with this 100%. But if it’s a perfect fit, and they can’t afford you, how does that benefit either of you? Why not put some videos on your website, or offer some free webinar or workshops, so they get a chance to “experience” you before the sales meeting is scheduled.
- Price Fixing. You (or your industry) is concerned about price fixing. By definition, price fixing is a conscious agreement among businesses within an industry to keep the price of something unnaturally high or low, instead of letting free-market forces determine what each customer pays. Putting your own prices on your own website is not a conscious agreement with other businesses, it’s not a conspiracy, and therefore is not price fixing. If you’re really concerned that you’ll be accused of price fixing, consult your business attorney.
- Mimics. You are concerned that competitors who are less qualified than you will increase their prices to mimic yours, but offer poor service. Let them. You cannot be responsible for what your competitor does. If they charge too much and offer a shoddy product or service, they’ll be out of business soon enough anyway.
- Uniqueness. You feel that your service or product is not unique, and is exactly the same as what your competitor offers. This is called a “commodity.” But a commodity implies that what the customer is purchasing is the same, regardless of the vendor (like milk, flour or gasoline). By being clear on what makes you unique, different, or better than your competitor, you avoid being seen as a commodity. This is called your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). If you don’t have one, get one.
- Ongoing Marketing. You’re concerned that if someone sees your prices but doesn’t reach out to you, you won’t have any way to connect with them in the future. It’s an easily fixable problem. This is where having a free or low-cost offer on your website which adds them to your mailing list is helpful. Think: email newsletter, webinar, tutorial, or whitepaper. However, you need to handle these people differently than you would a bona fide prospect, because they’re in the Information Gathering stage of the sales cycle, not the Decision Making phase. Establish your sales and marketing strategy and funnel, and reach out to people based on where they are along the sales path.
- Price Shopping and Tire Kickers. If they’re shopping on price alone, they’re probably not your ideal customer unless you are Wal-Mart. People who shop only based on price will leave you when they find someone cheaper. So if you put your prices on your website, you get them to exit before they waste your time. If a prospective customer is truly only shopping on price, then it wouldn’t matter if you tell them the price on the phone or on your website.
- Not Knowing Your Worth. It’s true. Many small business owners feel uncomfortable setting their prices because they don’t truly know their value. Here’s my blog post about setting your service fees.
What to do?
Whether you put your prices on your website or not is a personal business decision. It depends on your business and marketing strategy. Just make sure you make your decision based on what’s helpful to your customer and right for your marketing plan and brand, not based on your fears about what “might” happen.
If you don’t put your prices on your website, it may be helpful to explain to people why you didn’t include them, and explain what the next step is in the process. Prospective customers will be curious to understand why they need to speak with you first.
So…should you put your pricing on your website or not?
The best thing you can do is test it. Put your prices on your site for four weeks, and compare the results. If you get more inquiries, more sales, easier conversions, then you know your audience found it helpful.
You’ll never know if something works or not until you try it.
Do you put your prices on your site? Why or why not?
When visiting other sites, do you want to find pricing there? If you don’t see a price on a website, does that mean you stop shopping there?
Boy that’s scarey. I guess I could try it and find out if it makes a difference. But I do like to see prices on other people’s site. Does that make me a hypocrit? 🙂
Susan, I know it can be a bit nerve-wracking to put your prices on your site. I think the key is to ask yourself, both from a business strategy standpoint and a personal emotional standpoint, why or why not would you do it?
Not a hypocrite, Susan, just someone who is experimenting with their website! LOL
I hope you’ll tell us what happens when you do it. I”m curious.
I just went through this decision (I’ve always shown prices on my website, but someone suggested I might try requiring folks to sign up to get the price list.) I got enough feedback from folks that tells me at least for my market, having the prices on the website is important.
You may be able to figure this out by asking folks in your market…or by seeing what your competition is generally doing. Or, as Karyn suggests, doing an A/B test.
I heard that idea, too, about making people sign up to get your price list. I wondered if it wasn’t just an extra barrier to helping them get the info they needed, so I never tried it. I thought, “How would I feel if someone asked me for my email address, just to get prices?”
I create illustrations for companies and individuals, so every one of my assignments is truly unique, requiring various degrees of effort. One aspect of my business that I do give prices on is creating custom greeting cards using caricatures or cartoons of the company’s staff. As you can imagine, drawing the likeness of one business owner working at his desk takes much less time and research than drawing a staff of six people all doing different tasks around a specialized office setting. So on my website I state a base price, as Karyn suggests, and list the ‘extras’ that may occur in a drawing that add to the price. I realize few people use artists often enough to know what to expect when requesting a caricature. So I know giving them some range will cut out the folks who really don’t value the work involved (with whom I wouldn’t want to work anyway), and relieve the clients who are truly interested but just needed to confirm their curiosity. I also get frequent inquiries on children’s book illustration; this is usually such a large project that I have developed an Author Tip Sheet that I send to all inquirers. It explains what authors should have ready before contacting an illustrator, and ballpark prices on my past book illustrations so they can see the difference between illustrating a 32-page full color picture book and doing 10 black-and-white spot drawings for an older reader story. That too cuts out the chaff and reinforces the real potential clients.
These are great ideas, Pat. I knew there would be some creative ways to list prices, even if what you do is highly customized and need a per-project quote. I especially like the Author Tip Sheet. I imagine that it helps prospective clients to understand the process.
I’ve been working on this subject this week. Like Pat I have a business where the price can range from $500 to $50,000 so I’ve decided to offer a short list of options. Not only does it help clear up the money issue it also shows clients some of my other offerings. Some have pricing and others explain why even a ballpark price wouldn’t be fair to quote. I too have developed a new client questionnaire to give me better insight into their wants and needs without spending an hour on the phone.
Thank you for a timely post!!
Rick, you make a good point. By showing your pricing you also get a chance to show your offerings and your work. Your new client questionnaire sounds like a good tool to find out what they want/need. It also gives them time to think about it deeply, which helps them find clarity.
Thanks for a great article Karyn. I’ve struggled with this for years, putting prices up, then taking them down etc.
Now I’ve decided I am putting my prices on my website (and they’re there). My reasoning, among other things is, I like to know prices in advance – it helps me make a decision based on having ALL of the information I need to make my decision, and it also helps clients self-select whether they want to go ahead and speak with me further. That way they already enter the conversation knowing what it’s going to cost, and then it’s just a matter of determining if we’re a good fit for one another, and which program/product is right for them for where they are at and where they want to go.
Tracey, that was my reasoning, too, for putting my prices on my site. I think we have to TRUST our prospective clients that they’re smart and analytical. They aren’t making decisions just based on price. But price is a factor they’re looking at, so why not give them the information they need?
I’ve always shared price on my site too. The initial inspiration was because I prefer to see price on other people’s sites (and even locally – i.e. car sales lots). I noticed that I mistrust when price isn’t revealed. I’m a tell-it-to-ya-straight kind of gal and so I appreciate that from others. I don’t want to have to jump through hoops or waste time just to gather the info I need to make a confident decision.
And what I’ve realized is price has become another layer in the filter I’ve created to attract ideal clients. If they leave because of price … well, you said it best above “If a prospective customers is truly *only* shopping on price, then it wouldn’t matter if you tell them the price on the phone or on your website.”
This is what works for me and I realize that others may have an audience who prefers a completely opposite experience. I always say guesswork is optional (and not recommended). Love the A/B split test idea and simply… asking 🙂
Well THAT is a brilliant idea, Gina. Why not ask our customers if they would prefer to see our prices on our site? 🙂
My work as a freelance B-2-B marketing copywriter does not lend itself to posting prices. Take something as easily quantified as a trifold (3 panel) brochure. Measureable variables such as the number of words do not lead to reasonable pricing.
The big variables are how well clients have already defined their market positioning as well as the number of people and meetings involved in their approval process. This is hard to determine in advance, especially if you haven’t worked with the company before. A simple brochure may be written in an hour or it could require20 hours over the course of six months.
The corporate executives I work with understand this and would not expect to see prices posted.
The exception may be internet content, that is, informative articles of 400 to 700 words. Even here, you have to present yourself as a specialist whose work cannot be readily compared to the people of varied skill levels on freelance bidding boards. There’s no use posting prices unless you are a low-cost provider, and in this market, the low prices are so low as to be absurd for a capable writer.
Wow, Diana, it sounds like your projects are very varied. I wonder if you could offer just a “marketing postitioning” consulting service, that they purchase before getting any copywriting work done?
Like Diana, my projects vary so widely I’ve told myself in the past that I couldn’t put prices on my website. Recent experience has convinced me otherwise. From now on, I’ll describe packages that can be customized with “Starting at” prices.
I agree with you, Karyn, that your website should give “shoppers” the information they need to filter you in or out. They are judging not only on your products, services and prices. Your website should convey your qualifications and style.
For example: I’m a speaker who bounces around the room, passes out toy maracas and leads “Let’s Make a Deal”-style games. I’m a coach who nudges my clients out of their comfort zones with question after question, then does a literal happy dance when they reach goals. I’m not for everyone. My speaking and coaching pages should appeal to prospects who will shake those maracas and do the happy dance with me.
We often forget that marketing must include the “pre-purchase” phase of the cycle, the phase where prospective clients are gathering information and trying to figure out what help they need. This is where your speaking style is great, Deb. You show them a bit of your personality and your style, and how you can help them. They may not be ready for you for 3 or 4 months, but they’ll certainly remember the experience when they are ready! 🙂
Thanks Karen, I always value your advice and its great to see the benefits to both sides.
I promote myself as being someone open who people can trust, therefore for me it’s important that people can easily see the cost. I am the only one in my industry (in Australia) that does this, so I feel it makes me unique.
Agreed, Anne…it will really make you stand out from the crowd in Australia. Do you find that prospective clients speak positively about it when you first speak with them? Or is it simply expected that you would post your prices for prospective clients?
Great post, Karyn. I’ve struggled with this topic for far too long. Right now folks need to schedule a 1-1 conversation in order to get pricing for my mentoring/coaching programs. As a matter of fact, I don’t have a listing of my offers on my site, as I’ve tended to use email + sales pages to promote. You’ve inspired me to shift this approach. Time to test and see what happens!
Let us know what the results are Adela! This way people can hear about you both through your email/sales page route and your website…double the pleasure! 🙂
Karen, I learned from you a long time ago during one of your classes that I could avoid unnecessary inquiries if I put my prices on my website. I have to say it was the right thing to do – for me. It certainly cuts down on inquiries from less than ideal clients.
I’m so glad that long-ago-advice worked for you, Suzanne! 🙂
Great article Karen! I would like to share this link on my blog, if I may. 5 STAR Members would appreciate this.
Sure, Chris, you’re welcome to share the link to this article with your folks. I hope they find it helpful and practical.
This is a very comprehensive article that I agree with. When I redo my website (a two-year work-in-progress), I intend to include prices.
I do pro bono coaching for people who really can’t afford a professional coach, so I don’t mind anyone calling to talk to me. I usually wind up coaching them for an hour for free, sending them to other free resources, recommending books, etc., but I think most people avoid asking for price information, both in person and over the phone. People don’t want to be embarrassed by having to say, “I’m sorry, I just can’t afford that.” They’re also afraid of speaking to a very aggressive sales person who doesn’t want to take ‘no’ for an answer.
You’re right, Eugenia, people want some idea of pricing so they know if they can afford it or not (or how much they’ll have to save up, or go in debt, to purchase the item).
Rev. Stephen B. Henry, PhD.
This is some of the best discussion and advice I have ever seen on this difficult topic. As someone who has been around the Internet for a while and in business a little longer than that, I’ve tested and tried both ways and developed my own position that works for me. The advice in this post should help anyone make their own choice. There is no right answer; only the answer that is right for you and your business needs! -Steve/wiz.
That’s the best thing any of us can do, Stephen…test it, try it both ways, and find which way works best for you and your customers. Too often we do what others are doing without any analysis about whether it’s right for our biz. Or we RESIST doing something that could be of great service to our customers out of our our fear. In the end analysis, the best advice is: Try Something!
Thank you Karyn, this topic had started to keep me awake at night. As a consumer and a marketing consultant I started to think business owners are often too disconnected from their “consumer persona” and end up neglecting something as obvious as explicit price lists. I hope you don’t mind if I refer my blog’s Italian readers to your thorough analysis here!
I know that sometimes having an explicit pirce list isn’t appropriate or possible for some types of businesses, Vittoria. But for many, many businesses it IS possible to list prices, programs and fees…it just takes a little courage and a willingness to give customers what they’re looking for.
I believe that being upfront with your prospective clients includes letting them know what your prices are for your services. That is why I have listed the prices of my typical executive and business professional coaching costs on http://www.Leadership401.com
Professional coaching is effective and powerful, however less than one percent of the workforce can afford it. That is why I have written a number of self-coaching books and blog posting at little or no cost—so as many people as possible are able to afford and use these self-coaching tips in their personal and work lives.
Yes, John, knowing your target audience and what they can afford (or, at least their own perception of what they can afford) is helpful. Then you can create programs and products to serve as wide or narrow a swatch of your audience as you desire.
Karyn, this is such a great article. I was working on this topic with a client last week and have sent him your blog post.
A friend of mine recently raised her prices significantly and was feeling very nervous about having to “say the big new number” to the next prospect. She had changed the prices on her website, and when it came time for that first conversation about the higher price, my friend said that having it publicly stated on her website gave her courage to say it to the prospect. Like… her website had her back, LOL.
So… there is reason number 10.
Great idea, Martha! And when you inform all your existing and past clients about your upcoming price increase, you can send them to your website to see all your offerings. Perhaps they can’t afford your new pricing for your highest-tier offer, but they might be able to afford the next tier down. People do understand that businesses need to raise their prices from time-to-time.
Actually we have here 18 reasons to put our prices on our websites 🙂
Thank you for the useful article Karyn.