Today’s post is by fellow Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Kevin Jordan. Kevin is a small business marketing consultant based in central Virginia.
There is no doubt that any well-designed website for a small business should provide people with a wealth of information about the company. Visitors to the site should expect to find contact information, lists of products and services provided, frequently asked questions, testimonials, names and bios of key staff members, pictures and videos, and other types of content that help them decide if the company in question can help them solve whatever problem or need they might have. However, when it comes to the actual prices, there is a little bit of a gray area, especially for a service-based business. Should this information be posted on a company’s website for anyone to see, or should it only be divulged to those who contact the business to request that information?
I’ll answer that question in a minute, but first let’s examine some of the pros and cons of listing prices on a website.
Benefits of listing prices
Here are some of the benefits to listing prices on your website:
- Increase transparency: By listing prices online, you’ll appear more open and transparent, which helps to build trust and gives people the impression that you have nothing to hide
- Get rid of tire-kickers: If you publish your prices, it will help reduce the time you spend talking to unqualified leads who don’t even have the money to pay you in the first place.
- Let people know you’re competitive: If your prices are similar to those charged by your competitors, posting them online will allow people to see this, and might prompt them to contact you to determine what differences other than price you have vs your competitors.
Drawbacks of listing prices
Some reasons NOT to list prices online include:
- Being seen as a commodity: One of the worst things that can happen to a service-based business is being seen as a commodity, where the only difference in someone’s mind between your service and your competitor’s service is the price you charge. By publishing your prices, there is a risk that this will happen.
- Setting unreasonable expectations: If you have a more complicated service and you publish prices online, someone may contact you with the expectation of paying a certain price, only to find out that they’ll have to pay a higher price due to non-standard circumstances.
- Risking inaccurate comparisons: If you publish prices but do not make it clear what exactly is included for that price, you risk having people compare apples to oranges when looking at your service vs your competitor’s service. If your “gold service plan” offers many more benefits than your competitor’s cheaper “gold service plan”, but you don’t make that crystal clear, it would probably lead people to choose your competitor.
To list or not to list
So, given all of these pros and cons, what should a service-based business owner do when it comes to listing prices on his or her website? While their is no one correct answer to this question, I would resolve the issue as follows:
List your prices for basic or self-explanatory services.
Most service-based businesses have some sort of “basic plan” or lower-cost service that is fairly uncomplicated and self-explanatory. This might be something like a full-service oil change for an auto-body shop, or a weekly mowing service for a lawn care business. For an independent professional like a lawyer or consultant, it might be a 1-hour consultation. I believe that the prices for these types of services should be published on-line, because in my opinion the benefits of doing so outweigh the risks.
For complicated services, give price ranges or starting prices.
In many cases, when businesses have more complicated services, it is really impossible to tell people an exact price until the business has more information. For example, a pest control company can’t tell you how much it will cost to fix a termite infestation until someone looks at the property to see the extent of the problem. In cases like this, I think that a good solution is to simply give people a general idea of how much your services cost on your website in order to keep the tire-kickers at bay and set the proper expectation. You can uses phrases like “our prices range from x to y”, or “our prices start at x”, or “prices will vary, but can go as low as x”…you get the idea.
In this way, you will be able to give people an idea of what your services cost, without locking yourself into specific pricing. It still gives you the benefits of appearing transparent and letting people know you’re competitive (assuming your prices are at least somewhat competitive), while reducing the risk of being seen as a commodity or having people make inaccurate comparisons.
As I said before, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. If you own or manage a service-based business, I’d love to hear whether or not you list your prices on your website, and how you arrived at your decision. Simply leave a comment on this post and let me know how YOU answer this question:
“Should you post your prices on your website?”
Kevin Jordan is an authorized Duct Tape Marketing Consultant living in central Virginia. He’s also the host of the Small Business Marketing Minute, a daily video podcast for small business owners looking for simple, affordable, and practical marketing tips. He teaches several online courses on small business marketing, including video marketing.