When should you show your prices?
We have a choice as small business owners as to when we want to reveal our prices to potential customers. Specifically in a service-based industry (where although you may providing a physical product—USB drive or gallery—the main ‘product’ is your talent/time), you have three options for displaying prices.
- On your website, do not show any details at all, only an email address to contact for more information.
- Reveal a starting rate, such as “Wedding collections start at $4000. Please contact me for more information.”
- Show all available services with detailed pricing.
There are pros and cons to all options and ultimately, you should experiment and find out what works best for your business model. With #1, you may receive an abundance of inquiries that are haphazardly written just to receive a price quote. . . even though they have a budget of $500 and your prices start at $4000. With #2, you’ll receive less inquiries but hopefully more quality inquiries. However, a con would be the potential of ‘scaring’ someone off with the $4000 price tag. If they had a great meeting or conversation with you, perhaps their $2800 budget could be adjusted when they fall in love with your work. Finally, with #3, the complete transparency could be ‘too much too soon’. Perhaps you’ll need to allow the client get to know you by sending a personal email before your share more.
How should you show your prices?
Even if you’ve decided showing all of your service pricing right away (before clients inquire) you still have pricing presentation options to consider. For example, on your website, prices could be shared as simple text or you could link to an external document.
I believe it’s important to focus on two elements: simplicity and creativity. Simplicity is absolutely key. If your client can’t understand your pricing within a minute of skimming your page, you’ll lose them. Nobody likes complicated. Similarly, few people like ugly design! Finding the perfect marriage between simple and creative is our goal.
If you’re stuck for ideas on displaying your pricing, you could try designing a pricing guide in Adobe InDesign. You can include photos of your work, a page for your biography and personal photos, pricing details, a testimonials page and contact information. Keep your gorgeous work in front of your potential customer’s eyes as they view your pricing, side by side.
Another great option could be an automated email, in exchange for the potential customer’s email address. This is easy to set up, and if you receive a lot of inquiries, it’s a great way to weed out those that may not be a good fit. In your automated email, you could provide pricing details and more questions about what they are looking for.
Finally, a separate page on your website is an awesome option. You could directly link to the pricing page, with full details if desired—but you can also keep this as an ‘unlinked’ page and email clients a direct link after correspondence. This strategy has a few benefits:
- You can access a website from anywhere (don’t always have to attach a PDF from your computer)
- When you make any updates to the pricing guide, customers won’t be stuck with ‘old copies’ of a PDF—the website will always be the most up-to-date.
“Are your prices flexible?”
Whether from friends, family or an email out of the blue, we’ve all heard the question, “Are your prices flexible?” Although I would never recommend stating, “Prices are flexible” on your website, I don’t think it’s necessarily correct to always answer “No” either. It’s your business, and you are responsible for setting accurate prices to make a living.
Personally, I’ve put a lot of time and energy into determining my business costs (both fixed and variable), deciding how many weddings and portrait sessions I will photograph each year and what I need to make per job to be profitable. By truly knowing my numbers (and not ‘guessing’ or choosing numbers/discounts out of the air!), it does give me the flexibility to compromise pricing for clients I’d love to work with.
In addition, sometimes my business will receive last-minute inquiries—wedding dates only a month away—and I have the Saturday available. If it’s the difference between not booking that weekend because the clients can’t afford the full price or booking the wedding at 75% of my regular rate… I’m usually willing to be flexible.
You have to value your time and talent, so by no means am I preaching consistent discounts or undervalued rates. But at the end of the day, we all have the goal of running a profitable business. If you need to ‘move product’ (to borrow a saying from the retail world) in your service-based business, knowing your business numbers will allow you the freedom to do so.
If you’re a photographer interested in learning more about how to run a financially profitable business, I have a free e-book called, “5 Questions to Ask About Your Photography Pricing” that you can download here.