Should You Publish Your Pricing on Your Website?

In Jerusalem recently, my husband and I were debating whether to take a cab to the Old City or wait for the bus. Near the bus stop, we saw a taxi standing and asked the driver his fare: 50 shekels. We asked the driver in the next cab: 45 shekels. Then we asked a friendly student at the bus stop about the best route to take. As we were talking, the second driver backed up his cab and offered us 40 shekels for the trip. We declined, took the bus for less than half the cab fare, and walked part of the way.

If you’ve ever travelled in the Middle East, you know that price is negotiable. The cardinal rule of commerce is never accept the first offer. In the shuk or on the street, you need to bargain or you’ll get taken.

It can be a fun challenge or a complete nuisance, depending on your point of view. But whichever way you look at it, the process is time-consuming. And because the pricing is not clearly defined, you don’t know whom to trust.

Is that how you want your customers to feel?

The Argument Against Publishing Prices
Many small business service professionals are reluctant to publish their pricing online.

The debate goes something like this:

If you publish your pricing on your website, you give away your competitive advantage. Others will know what you charge and try to undersell you.

Or, if you publish your pricing, you miss the opportunity for potential customers to call and inquire about your services, and the chance to engage them in a conversation that could lead to a sale.

Or, if you publish your pricing, there’s no room for negotiation.

Or, it’s just crass.

If you prefer to negotiate and like to engage any and all potential clients in conversation, this approach may just work for you.

Why I Publish My Prices
But I’ve found, trying it both ways, that publishing pricing on my website is much more effective, for several reasons:

Stating my pricing up front gives clear and consistent information to potential clients. I include detailed explanations of what services are included, so they understand the value of what they’re purchasing.

Clients self-select. While I offer a free half-hour consult, I have a better chance of not wasting my time with someone who just wants to pick my brain without being seriously interested in paying for my services.

My pricing is a statement about the value of my services and level of experience. I’m not concerned about competitors underselling me, because the decision to engage a marketing consultant is not simply a matter of price; it’s also a matter of expertise and building a trusting relationship.

The Internet is a huge, fluid marketplace that enables all of us to hunt, comparison shop and find the best deal, whatever service or product we’re seeking. But time is valuable. If you can save your ideal client the extra effort of having to ask your pricing, you not only save both of you time, you’re a step ahead in establishing trust, as well.

And that’s priceless.

Evelyn Herwitz is a marketing consultant who loves to help service professionals tell great stories about their good work, to establish them as approachable experts and to grow their businesses.

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