One dilemma faced by service-based businesses is whether to display their prices on their website or not.
It can be daunting, especially when you are newly launched or just starting out, to put a number out there and see what happens. Often you're concerned that clients will see your prices and make a decision on whether to contact you or not based on what they see.
But it may not be quite as simple as that, and I'll discuss some considerations and how to mitigate the problems associated with displaying your prices in a moment!
Benefits of displaying Your prices
- It makes you appear honest and transparent
It's clear exactly what clients can expect, with no surprises.
- It removes a barrier for people to get in touch
Often people can actually be put off getting in touch with you if you don't display your prices, because they assume you will be too expensive.
- It cuts out the 'back-and-forth' emails about prices and fees
When people know how much you cost, you don't need to do any to-ing and fro-ing about how much X will cost and why.
- It's quick for you to create contracts & sort payments
It takes a lot of time to create custom quotes for each and every client, so having set prices makes it much easier to send over pre-written contracts & invoices.
- It's a great way to target only the clients you want and save time!
If someone doesn't contact you because they've seen your prices and they're too high for them, it saves you spending time emailing them back etc. when they would have had objections about your quote anyway!
Common concerns of Displaying your prices
- It can put people off even contacting you
If they don't even make it to contacting you, there's no way for you to talk to them about why your prices are this way or about potential discounts.
- Your competitors can see how much you're charging
No one wants to be copied, and (especially if you're trying to undercut the competition with more affordable prices) this can be a problem if competitors see how much you're charging.
- You are committed to that price no matter who the client is
Of course, you can always offer discounts or special pricing to anyone if you like, no matter what it says on your website. But the other way round can be tricky... often we will be contacted by clients who require more time and dedication because their needs are different or they're more demanding (just being honest - it happens!), and this can be mitigated by charging a premium for your services with them. However, they may not understand this if your prices are fixed on your website.
- If you price yourself too high or too low, it's harder to adjust
So you've had your prices up on your website for a month or so, but no one is 'chomping at the bit'. You're worried you've priced yourself too high and have put clients off. If you change your prices on your website, you worry that people may see your drop and it'll be embarrassing, or that the damage is already done.
How can you mitigate these potential issues?
Be explicit about the value you're delivering
Problem: Displaying prices can put people off even contacting you
When potential clients see your prices, they are probably using a 'frame of reference' to judge whether that price is acceptable or not. They may be comparing you to other prices they have seen from competitors, or in some cases comparing the price to how much it would cost for them to do it themselves.
Your job on your website is to influence their frame of reference, by showing them exactly what benefits they'll get from your service. And I don't just mean outputs; I mean how it will make them feel, what it will enable them to do in the future, and how it will improve their life.
You want to show them that their focus shouldn't just be based on cost, they should focus on the value they receive from your service.
Price yourself according to value, not just what the competition is doing
Problem: Your competitors can see how much you're charging
If you have priced yourself according to the value you deliver (ie. the things mentioned above such as how it makes your customer feel and how you're improving their life etc.), rather than purely based on what your competitors are doing, then it really doesn't matter whether your competition see or not!
Numbers on a page are easy to copy, but delivering true value and having confidence in what you are offering are not.
Create 'packages' and set parameters
Problem: You are committed to that price no matter who the client is
There are a few ways to tackle this problem, firstly being that you could display a price range on your website (eg. 'Wedding photography services = between £1500 to £2000'). In which case for higher demands you can quote higher in the range, however, it still gives you a ceiling of what you can charge them.
The other solution is creating set price 'packages' (eg. 'Wedding photography 1/2 day = £1300', 'Wedding photography full day = £1800') and be very clear exactly what is included in each package. This manages expectations, and you can always add a note that you're happy to quote for more complex needs, therefore not limiting the amount you can charge clients who want extra!
Create a variety of pricing 'levels'
Problem: If you price yourself too high or too low, it's harder to adjust
First of all, there's nothing wrong with having to adjust your prices because they're not working for you. Whether that means bumping them up, or knocking them down; we all make mistakes and learn from them!
However, to avoid the risk of having clients take a quick look at what you offer and think 'nope too expensive', it's a good idea to offer several different levels of investment for them to choose from.
For example the wedding photographer might have three tiers for her services:
- 'Ceremony only = £800'
- 'Wedding 1/2 day = £1300'
- 'Wedding full day = £1800'
And likewise with my own website design services, I offer three different options:
- 'Pre-launch package = £150'
- 'Starter package = £400'
- 'Premium package = £650'
Having a tiered approach to your pricing, or varying commitments, is a great way to get people on board who may not have been able to afford you otherwise. You can always 'upsell' to them at a later date!
And you don't necessarily have to worry about everyone going with your cheapest option and you making less money than you hoped. Psychologically speaking, people are more likely to choose your mid-range option, because it's not too expensive and not too cheap, so has the best perceived value. This is called the 'center stage effect'.
Are your services completely bespoke?
If you tailor your services to each individual client and your delivery is very different each time, then it may not be possible at all to set a fixed price or even a price range on your website.
This is often true for many event planners, for example. Each event is so different and the final price is based on a number of different variables that will never be the same each time, so usually these companies will provide custom quotes rather than display set prices.
Is cost a consideration at all for your clients?
It may be that you have a strong reputation, years of experience and referrals, so people will be willing to pay whatever you will quote them, because they know that you're 100% worth it. What an amazing place to be in!
Or it could be that money simply isn't an object for your customers, as is often the case with extremely high end services and client bases. It wouldn't matter to them what you cost, so why bother putting it up on your site?