Should a local business disclose its prices on its website?

Start the debate:

NO. Never give a price till you’ve had a chance to persuade a customer of the value of what you’re selling and that’s best done by moving the conversation along from your website to a phone call or other two-way communication.

YES. Your customers are already price-checking your product or service on Amazon, Google, Yelp, LegalZoom, AutoMD and on and on. Get into the price conversation up front. Plus, save yourself the trouble of giving sales pitches on the phone to shoppers who can’t afford you.

You’ll lean one way or the other, depending on your line of business. But it doesn’t have to be either/or. Here are eight online price strategies that try to balance the buyer’s desire to know price vs. the seller’s desire to communicate value.

1. Give a detailed explanation of how you set your price

River Pools and Spas published this extensive article on its website explaining prices for fiberglass pools. Company owner Marcus Sheridan claims the article brought in $1 million in new business after Google pushed it to the top of the rankings for searches on fiberglass pool prices; since none of his competitors were publishing on the topic, he had Google all to himself, he says. (Read Sheridan’s article about the article.)

2. Introduce a price list with an explanation of value

Before you get to the menu for voiceover artist Paul Strikwerda, you have to read his statement of why he’s worth the money. “When you hire me, you’re hiring a multilingual talent with over 25 years of international experience,” etc.

3. Price by packages

Bronze, silver, gold—package deals at different levels get both price and value across, for instance, coupled with a comparison for the unbundled costs, as seen in the bronze package for the Bulle Rock Golf Course.

4. Give starting prices

So potential customers at least know what it costs to get in the door, as with Aspen Dental’s rates for standard procedures.

5. Show a range

Wedding photographer Kim Mendoza gives a detailed list of services but leaves the pricing squishy at $3,000 to $5,000 (click the “pricing” link on the navigation bar).

6. Offer a special or coupon

It’s the minimum effort to show a price but everyone loves a deal, like the $49.95 oil service at Rabbit Row Repair.

7. Offer a request-for-estimate form

Keeps prices off your site but easily accessible to a shopper, like this simple estimate request form for Dillons Automotive.

8. Require registration to see a price sheet

Affordable Language Services collects some valuable contact information before the customer can download a list of rates. (Learn more in this case study.)

For more on pricing and websites…

Why We Are Afraid to Talk Pricing from Small Business Trends. Check the debate among small biz owners in the comments section.

When Should You Reveal Price? A talk by Flint McGlaughlin of MECLABS gets into the psychology of price display on websites.

Pricing Tips and Tactics that Boost Local Business Profits. General advice on pricing strategy from Dex Media.

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