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Five Reasons You Should Discuss Pricing on Your Website

By: Guest | August 17, 2011 | 
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Today’s guest post is written by Marcus Sheridan.

Some scientists claim the phenomenon of Stonehenge is the greatest mystery the world has ever seen. Others argue the case of crop circles, the Lost City of Atlantis, or even the location of the Ark of the Covenant.

But when it comes down to it, none of these even come close to the great mystery that is alive and well on hundreds of thousands of business websites across the world today—the absence of pricing information.

You might think I’m kidding when I make these comparisons, but I’m not. For me, the idea that so many businesses, small and large, are afraid to discuss pricing on their website simply makes me slap my forehead and wonder if I’m participating in a live episode of The Twilight Zone.

I know some of you reading this are shaking your head as you don’t feel such a discussion on your website is possible. But let me assure you that if you’ll just open yourself up to the possibilities, your company’s website and marketing efforts may just take an upward swing you never dreamed possible.

Five Reasons to Discuss Pricing on Your Website

1. SEO Value. Here’s the deal—Most industries and businesses are afraid to talk about pricing on their websites. Notwithstanding, this is one of the most common search phrases Google gets when folks are serious about buying a product. That said, you have a great opportunity to show up on the first page of Google search results if you’re simply willing to address the question of how much your product or service costs.

As an example, let’s take a look at my swimming pool website (Yes, when I’m not writing about marketing I’m overseeing my swimming pool company). Because no one in the industry talked about fiberglass swimming pools for years on their website, we decided to answer every question our customers had ever asked us. Considering pricing and cost is the number one question we get from consumers, we wrote various articles on the subject. And the results? In the past three years, just because we address this important question, our site has received an additional:

  • 220,000 page views
  • 55,000 visitors
  • 138 leads
  • Roughly $1,000,000 in sales

Keep in mind these stats are just based on pricing/cost related keywords in organic search, and as you can see, they’ve been a literal jackpot and have led to a mountain of additional sales. If you’d like to see what I’m talking about here, just type in Google ‘Fiberglass Pool Cost’ or ‘Fiberglass Pool Pricing’.

2. You’re going to have to answer the question anyway. The main reason business owners tell me they can’t talk about pricing on their website is because there is too much of a range to deal with, and thus it’s impossible to give someone realistic expectations. But my response to this is simple: “When someone calls you on the phone and asks you for a price range, do you refuse to answer them or do you ask a few questions and attempt to give basic numbers?”

Again, let’s look at swimming pools as an example. My product ranges from $20,000 to $200,000, but this doesn’t mean I can’t give a potential client at least a broad expectation based on their wants and needs. (Again, if you haven’t looked at my pricing page, you should do this.)

When it comes to content marketing, folks, there is simply no excuse not to address any and every potential question a consumer may ask. It’s that simple.

3. Qualify better and stop wasting your time. Have you ever had a sales appointment that was an absolute waste of time because you were way out of the shopper’s budget? Well, if you did, it’s your fault. Why? Because you didn’t prepare the prospect. You weren’t honest and forthright. And in this day and age of poor credit and hard-to-come-by financing, you sure as heck need to filter out the qualified from the unqualified consumers.

4. Your stuff is worth it. Let me be blunt with this one: If you’re embarrassed by your pricing, why in the world would anyone have the confidence to buy from you? Pricing and cost should never be a subject of trepidation when dealing with prospects. In fact, talking about pricing should be as natural as talking about any other aspect of the product or service. Seriously, there should be no difference in approach.

5. Prospects will love you and you’ll stand out from the crowd. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me, “Marcus, thank you so much for talking about pricing on your website. I couldn’t seem to find answers anywhere!”, I’d be a millionaire. Today’s consumer appreciates openness, honesty, and transparency—so why not embrace such a mentality??

So there you have it folks, five reasons you should be discussing price on your company website right now. And if you don’t believe that it will work, I can only ask that you give it a try. Look for reasons that it will work versus conjuring up all the ways in which it won’t.

I could go on and on regarding this subject but I’ve already badly broken the Spin Sucks word count rules ;-) Plus, I’m saving it for my webinar next week with Gini Dietrich. If you haven’t signed up for ‘Content’s Ability to Close Sales’, you really should strongly consider it, because it’s going to be awesome and regret is not fun. It is Thursday, August 25th, 11 am Central, $50, and you can register here.

So now it’s your turn. Do you think pricing should be discussed on a company’s website? What’s your business’ approach to this subject and what have been the results?

Marcus Sheridan has won the heart of Gini Dietrich and millions of others with his rockin words on business, marketing, blogging, and life success principles. And don’t forget to subscribe to his blog or connect with him on G+.

Note from Gini: He’s right; he has won my heart. He’s really freaking smart and has a TON of value to provide PR and marketing professionals.

117 comments
kcmgmarketing
kcmgmarketing

Awesome post! So here's my question...what do you think about having someone enter their email address to get instant access to your pricing? I'm interested to hear some thoughts. Thank you.

Andrea T.H.W.
Andrea T.H.W.

Well, usually if you don't have clear pricing information about your business or product it simply means that its price do not reflect its quality and its value. It costs too much for what it gives. If someone is clear about advantages and features and the product is correctly priced than there is no need to be scared about saying how much it costs. Imho anyway. :)

Gary Hawkins
Gary Hawkins

On websites using a shopping cart pricing is obviously readily available to your customers. That being said, if you think your pricing differentiates you from your competitors then highlight it on your landing page(s). Since we offer a downloadable video product rather than physical DVDs, we're able to offer a great product at a fraction of the cost of traditional offerings. We want potential customers to realize this as soon as they get to us.

Tracie Thompson
Tracie Thompson

Here via @RobertDempsey on Twitter. Interesting reading.

I'm an artist and there's so much weirdness about whether to put prices on an art website or not. But you know, when I Google for "animal portrait pricing," I get a LOT of results, and it seems pretty clear that a lot of people must be looking for the information.

In addition, I seem to get about a 50/50 split between people who find my prices shockingly high and those who find them surprisingly low. Maybe I'll get more inquiries from the crowd that assumes I must charge twice as much as I do, if I put the prices out there in the first place. Thanks for giving me a lot to think about.

YasinAkgun
YasinAkgun

Completely agree. In one of my roles in a company I'm assisting with digital marketing for is finding 3rd party SEO companies.

I was amazed at how ALL of them had NO pricing information, 90% didn't have a direct contact number and many of them did not have a 'contact us for consultation' option. just a general enquiries contact email.

I don't want an email conversation that will potentially take weeks to get the answers I want, I want to be able to get the answers I need within 5 minutes during a human phone call.

How many potential clients have these companies lost?

Jk Allen
Jk Allen

Marcus - Great stuff here my friend. Typical Sales Lion type work (great)!

As a consumer, I always look for pricing. It's just how we're built - we want good value. Not saying we want what's cheapest...but we want the best overall value.

This being the case, I have different expectations when it comes to products & services that are custom in nature. For non custom things, I need to see pricing. It's how I associate value and make the decision to see if it's worth me taking my interest to the next step.

For services that are more custom in nature - a simple price range would be nice, but I really need to have a communication to explain my custom need, so I can then understand how the pricing will come into play.

So, I’m with you here...but I do understand when businesses leave off prices for certain products and services.

With that said...with the right content marketing strategy, one could get all those "custom" questions answered and refer to those articles in the pricing section to give more meat and potatoes!

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

So @Marcus_Sheridan you got me back over here (I lurked and ran yesterday). Not too long ago I was on a major national site, investigating what they charge for a service for research.. and was so frustrated that there were no prices, anywhere; that it took a call and a few people to get a range and then hear 'service plans' or 'on site visits' that before I heard some actual numbers. Grrr.

That said, I agree with @Danny Brown and @EricaAllison and @sydcon_mktg : it depends. Putting those ranges on there, even answering those 'expectations' questions as clearly as possible is a good idea but it's still apples to oranges to Honda and not always relative or scalable. People still come in loving this Fortune 500 hotel website, and want it for the low end No-tell Motel budget. Here's another thing, more than time and money, it's also value.. value delivered by experience and expertise. It may only take a designer 3 hours (after tons of research) to come up with the next 'swoosh just do it' logo and tagline, but it will bring value to that company for years to come and that value is amplified by being a global brand, it's worth more. Don't misunderstand me.. you are right: we all have to answer the pricing question anyway, I just have to find another way that works for me. FWIW.

AlinaKelly
AlinaKelly

@TheSalesLion Hello Marcus, It's been really interesting to hear all these perspectives on pricing. Thanks for opening this conversation.

I agree that if your product/service can be clearly scoped (i.e. what the client gets can be clearly defined) then you can likely put a price--or range of prices--on it. And I wholeheartedly agree with the benefits of transparency. I really like it as a consumer. Having said that, I also have to agree with @DannyBrown that in some industries, pricing in this fashion is all but impossible. I can't think of two clients in the last 10 years for whom I've done exactly the same thing for which I charged exactly the same amount.

I've taken a very different approach to pricing lately: value. Value to the client (what do I bring that others don't) and value to me (is this good for me and my business/portfolio). @DannyBrown says it well, "You're not comparing the price of beans in a supermarket; you're comparing quality experience and results, and advice that's right for your company." While we're in competition with others, to be certain, I'm not competing so much on price. Every prospective job has a value to me and a value to the client, and every job I price is unique. The right price is where those two values intersect. I don't know how to come up with a price list that reflects this.

My two cents (not reflective of my aforementioned pricing policy).

Alina

RobertDempsey
RobertDempsey

I'm a huge fan of pricing on a website, so much so that we're releasing a print catalog with all of our products, services, and opt-in offers, all with pricing. I've been in services businesses for more than 11 years and find that people don't list prices because:

1. They don't want to scare away potential customers

2. They think their competitors are watching and don't want to get copied

3. Because "no one else in our industry does it so why should we"

All of the above reasons are total crap and led by fear of loss. Companies need to stop trying to be all things to all people and focus on the customers who can and will pay for their products. Doing anything else is a complete waste of time and money.

+1 for listing prices.

adamsok
adamsok

@Marcus_Sheridan Terrific post! As much as we've rocked inbound, and are growing like a weed, this is one area that we haven't been aggressive enough with.

"Qualify better and stop wasting your time." If I had a nickel for every business owner who complains about a total lack of time. Half their time is being tied up on phone calls which always eventually leads to the price question, and that's where the party ends!

I realize that we sometimes get a little paranoid as biz owners, that we need to talk with everyone because we are afraid of what we might miss. Looking at it from this perspective, even a few less calls means more time giving great service and quality control. It's a win, win!

You rocked it man! thanks, -Adam

MSchechter
MSchechter

Pricing, pshaw... You should see my backwoods of an industry where people are afraid to post the products, none the less the prices due to fear of "copying". I try to explain to many of them that the fear of "not getting discovered" is greater, but they won't budge...

For us, price has almost always been a positive. Makes people realize our products are far more accessible than they thought. For the few who see the price and are turned off, well that is their time and our time better spent...

Tinu
Tinu

That webinar sounds fun. I've put up and taken down pricing information on one of my blogs countless time. Right now it's down - the reason being that I can't handle any more growth right now. BUT, I leave prices on products up and subscription forms intact always. I'm thinking about putting the pricing information back up while I form an alternate plan to handle referring any interim sign ups.

Brankica
Brankica

I almost saw Marcus being serious for a second here :) Kidding. This really sounds like a great advice and I am not sure why more people don't talk about pricing. I know, if I am in search of an info about a service, it is usually because I wanna know the price first.

derekgrant
derekgrant

Great points - It's hard to imagine that some companies don't take an open approach to pricing. This is less feasible when the price book is complex and requires add on's (e.g., enterprise software licenses that require consulting hours, Maintenance and Support, or per-server licenses), however it's a must in cloud sales.

delwilliams
delwilliams

I think these are all valid points. I know when I am looking at various services I look for price and most often I go with the one who has it listed. My reason is this, call me a cynic but I live in L.A. where small shops never have pricing and I feel like I am thrown into a bargaining match over dish soap. I don't like it, it makes me think that I am about to be taken advantage of regardless of how much it ends up costing.

RyanSkinner
RyanSkinner

Of course, if you include a pricing page on your site (clearly labelled), and you use marketing automation software, you can bump up the score of anyone visiting your pricing pages. Especially, those who come back. That's going to be a pretty hot prospect....

T60Productions
T60Productions

I'm with you Marcus. First thing I did before I started my production company was check out competition websites. Nobody had prices... drove me nuts. I made including prices on our website a priority.

--Tony Gnau

Ameena Gorton
Ameena Gorton

I love this. Especially coming from a retail marketing background where we'd break down prices into 3 segments - publish the one price that we could slash at any point but the real cost was always concealed. It was all about getting the leads in and relying on the heavy sales tactics of the team to close the deal. It's a business model that works but it's sleazy, tough and undoubtedly leads to a lot of time wasted. Transparency is the way forward. Thanks for leading the way so clearly Marcus!

BobReed
BobReed

Customization is the crux of the biscuit for professional service firm pricing. You don't know what you don't know about a client's needs and wants until you sit down face to face. BUT, in our space (PR and marketing), you can educate prospects about your fees in a general way by supplying loose guidelines about the industry in general and the space you work in particular (solo practitioner, small agency, large independent, and so on). That way you won't be bothered by the uneducated or the cheap, but you may attract some bigger fish that find your broad range enticing.

franswaa
franswaa

Packaging/bundling things into offerings that have a price tag put on them publicly is a GREAT way to market online ... it's something that we're starting to do where I work because all the benefits (i.e. things listed in this blog post).

Funny thing is that actually "doing" it has been a HUGE challenge because it's not traditionally how things have been done. Most were very scared/worried to pull the trigger.

Here's to being more transparent.

Al Smith
Al Smith

Really got me thinking Marcus. Great topic and wonderful comments from everyone.

Don't think i'm ready for pricing on the site, yet, but will be soon. maybe after 6 months, do some research and studies (talk to you, of course, Ha !) and get some pricing on the site. Hummmmmmm ?

Thanks for this and all the ways you CARE !

Al

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

Did everyone like the note from me the best?!? I'm actually going to go down to the comments below and comment there. See you soon!

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

I use Google Shopping all the time to compare prices. Sadly so many 'prices' are negotiable. I agree with you points Marcus.Anyone who doesn't list a price for that item never get's a shot at my business. Every business with standard pricing should put it out there. Isn't it cheaper than me calling and using a reps time and then say 'sorry price is to high see you'

I see there is that 380sq ft pool on your website for only 18.99 is that right? Clicking 'Check out' now

Kristi Hines
Kristi Hines

I'd say the reason people leave off the pricing is they assume they'll scare everyone off before their sales team can get the chance to schmooze with the prospective client. But if you're like me, you don't even bother with the services that don't have some pricing mentioned because you just assume, as a prospective client, you couldn't afford them anyway and move on. Great points! I'd definitely rather have less inquiries, but have the ones that do know what they're asking for and know it's what they want already.

Glenn Street
Glenn Street

@JeffOgden Jeff, could you offer a before/after comparison of the effect your public price list has had, if you have such information? Not specific dollars, of course, but some kind of ROI effect that we can understand and relate to?

Kind of crazy, though, isn't it? Doing a "simple" act of combining "how much" with "what value do I get" wins raves... go figure.

Yogizilla
Yogizilla

@RobertDempsey All very good points. I think the main thing I've gathered here is that it further qualifies your leads so, when you finally get to interact, you're getting to the good stuff. Makes sense, really. 8)

Marcus_Sheridan
Marcus_Sheridan

@adamsok Hey bud, so great to hear from you. Here's the thing too, and I'll know you'll appreciate this-- If we're really doing inbound marketing well, that means we're going to get more leads than we know how to properly handle, which means that we need to qualify better, which means that we need to discuss pricing on the front end, which means we'll now close deals quicker, which means we'll now get paid more, which means we'll now spend more time with our wife and kids......Ahhh, now that's the beauty of inbound marketing and transparency. :-)

Marcus_Sheridan
Marcus_Sheridan

@MSchechter Well said bud. I bet you see some crazy stuff in the jewelry industry. Geez , talk about antiquated of thought, great to see you thinking forward brother. :)

Marcus_Sheridan
Marcus_Sheridan

@Tinu Too busy? Dang girl, go ahead!! (Sounds like you may need to raise them prices of yours!) ;-)

Marcus_Sheridan
Marcus_Sheridan

@Brankica Yup, that's the first thing we all look for.....and the last thing anyone wants to talk about. Hmmmm, am I missing something here?

Marcus_Sheridan
Marcus_Sheridan

@delwilliams Great point. A business I like to refer to as a parallel to what you're saying is Carmax. They have their 'low price, haggle-free guarantee'. That way, everyone knows they're going to get a good deal and not have to play mind games with a guy in a suit to do better. And the last I looked, Carmax was making a little bit of money. ;)

Marcus_Sheridan
Marcus_Sheridan

@Ameena Falchetto Hey Ameena, great point. And wouldn't you say those 'sales tactics' are getting really lame by this point because most people with half a brain see them from a mile away? Transparency is the new 'sales technique' of the 21st century.....Hmmmm, that has a nice ring to it. ;-)

Marcus_Sheridan
Marcus_Sheridan

@BobReed Good points Bob. For me, I really just come down to a willingness to be a great teacher. That's what Google likes, and that's what consumers like. People smell transparency....and to them, it smells dang good.

Great seeing you bud, hope you're coming to the next webinar btw....or you can just call me and I'll give you the 10 minute speed-version. ;-)

Marcus

Marcus_Sheridan
Marcus_Sheridan

@franswaa "Here's to being transparent'.....Ahhhh, I just love that phrase. And hey, if the politicians in Washington can't do it, then we can certainly pick up their slack. ;-)

Marcus_Sheridan
Marcus_Sheridan

@Al Smith Totally understand man. Right now, because I've just started doing a lot more speaking, consulting, etc---I'm working on an updated pricing page. But as you know, TSL has been around for a long dang time.

Thanks a ton bud!

Marcus_Sheridan
Marcus_Sheridan

@HowieG Actually Howie, that 18.99 pool is on sale today, and today only, for all aliens......for 18.98 :-)

Thanks for stopping by bro.

Adam | Customer Experience
Adam | Customer Experience

@Kristi Hines@Marcus_Sheridan Well, Kristi said what I wanted to say, so I think I'll just expand on it. :) I agree the fear with pricing is that you will be competing on price only and never get that chance to differentiate your product/services. The fear is the potential customers who will see the price and never call. I guess what people are missing is the large number of people who never call because they googled price and never even saw the site.

It would be great to test which number is bigger -- but it's pretty hard to prove what someone didn't do!

Marcus_Sheridan
Marcus_Sheridan

@Kristi Hines So glad you've brought this up Kristi. The old-school technique of 'schmoozing' has now become the biggest turn-off ever to most consumers, and they see right through that junk. In fact, I think we're now all born with 'schmooz-o-meters'....either that or we buy the app. ;-)

RobertDempsey
RobertDempsey

@Yogizilla I can say for a fact that I've saved at least 40 hours of conversations I would have otherwise had to have by being upfront with my pricing. Again, even if someone doesn't know how much a service might be or have a strict budget, I have found that they always have an amount in their head that they will spend.

MSchechter
MSchechter

@Marcus_Sheridan It's often good intentions and bad practices. The one positive about the explosion of Social is that it is finally getting them to take the web seriously. The problem, the only part of the web that they are taking seriously is social...

Glenn Street
Glenn Street

@Marcus_Sheridan@delwilliams Ouch. I was that "guy in a suit" for a few years, but didn't wear a suit. Too out of place in our part of the world. :)

I will say, though, selling cars is a great way to learn the numerous ways to make a sale. Have long held the notion that a.) Great car salespeople are a better psychologist than psychologists are (except when it comes to heavy duty disorders) and, b.) Most salespeople I have met, who are really quite talented in their niche, wouldn't last two months working the floor of a car dealership.

And FWIW, went out of my way to not be "that car salesman". As a result, was the first salesman at the dealership to win Top Salesman awards despite no longer being a "liner". Though I had advanced to other positions in the sales department, had enough sales due to referrals to win.

Ironically, never won Top Salesman while actually being a salesman. Have been a big believer in the power of word of mouth referrals since.

BobReed
BobReed

@Marcus_Sheridan Thanks, Marcus. I'm already signed up! Can't wait for this one. BTW, I'm working on my questions/headlines for the new blog.

Yogizilla
Yogizilla

@RobertDempsey _ There you go and, like I said, you'll get to focus on the folks that are truly interested so no one's time is wasted. It's a great way to kill the noise and increase opt-ins. At the very least, everyone should have a page that breaks down what exactly they do and how they deliver on it, in a nutshell. 8)

Yogizilla
Yogizilla

@EugeneFarber@Marcus_Sheridan@adamsok I have some related infographics at http://unbounce.com/seo/the-adaptive-seo-approach/ but I'll be the first to say I've helped clients implement these methods.. But I need to do more of this myself. I'm still in that formulation phase where I am profitable but I'm also near capacity with my hands on so many things.. So I don't want to go crazy selling.

For me, all that organic traffic is an opportunity to build relationships for future relationships.. So, when I'm ready to take on more work and all my duckies are in line, I can rock it out.

I hope that inspires someone out there. You don't hear enough about us bootstrapping small businesses with large families and tons of crap going on. If I told you guys about all the projects I have in the works, you might think I am crazy.. Which is mostly accurate. LOL

Trackbacks

  1. [...] you haven’t read his post on injecting pricing into your website, you should. He gives us five good reasons to do it, some of which I actually agree with and do [...]

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  5. [...] It can help with search results – a lot of people will be searching something like ‘how much does a website cost’. This can be particularly beneficial if you offer a relatively niche product, as this example shows: http://spinsucks.com/marketing/five-reasons-you-should-discuss-pricing-on-your-website/ [...]