Since 2018, Vireo has been following the content marketing strategy outlined in They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan. One of the more controversial suggestions in the book is to discuss your pricing structure on your website.
The gut reaction of most business owners to discussing pricing publicly is: No way! And we totally understand that, with the idea generating a lot of debate and discussion in our own business before we ultimately decided to post the prices of our services.
I highly recommend reading They Ask, You Answer (read my review here), but in this article I’m only going to discuss this one suggestion from the book.
Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
How much does it cost?
Posting your prices has a lot of potential for increasing the quality and quantity of your leads, but there are still very few businesses that discuss pricing on their website (aside from restaurants and ecommerce).
This is surprising if you consider your own behaviour: When you’re researching a product or service, what is one of the questions that is top of mind for you?
“How much does it cost?”
Yet, so often, that information is nowhere to be found on the website. As Sheridan puts it, you know the business knows the answer, and the fact that they aren’t telling you the answer means they’re hiding that information.
“When you’re researching a company and their products and services, the moment you feel like anyone is hiding anything from you, all trust is lost,” writes Sheridan.
He says the decision not to discuss pricing generally comes down to three reasons:
- “Every solution is different. Our prices vary.”
- “If we discuss pricing on our website, our competitors will find out what we charge.”
- “If we show what we charge, we’ll scare customers away.”
‘Our prices vary’
This is very much true for Vireo. Every website project and marketing campaign varies greatly due to the exact tasks involved, the scope of the project, and the goals of the client. So we can’t give an exact price on our website but we can give a range, and we can discuss why the prices vary.
Sheridan points out that your customers and clients have common sense and they likely already know that prices vary in your industry. What they’re looking for is a discussion about why prices vary and what they can expect.
Some suggestions from Sheridan for discussing variable pricing include:
- Explain the factors that keep the costs down.
- Explain the elements that push the cost of a project up.
- Help the readers understand the factors that dictate cost within your industry.
‘Our competitors will find out what we charge’
This one is pretty obvious when you think about it: Your competitors already know what you charge. Or at least, they have a pretty good idea. You’re in the same industry after all.
The real fear here is that your competitors will undercut your prices. But running a business shouldn’t be about a race to the bottom in terms of pricing; it should be about serving your clients and customers, and charging a fair exchange for value.
Yes, your competition might be cheaper than you. But Sheridan challenges us to explain on our website why that is. If you explain your position in the market, your customers or clients will be making an informed choice when they choose you.
‘We’ll scare customers away’
Maybe you’re not just more expensive than your competitors, you’re WAY more expensive, and you’re worried that your pricing will drive customers away.
Good! Those customers weren’t a good fit for you anyway.
Seriously, though, discussing the pricing on your website can be a good way to qualify leads. If your pricing structure isn’t a good fit for them, you’ve saved yourself time you would have otherwise spent having that conversation over the phone, on email, or face-to-face.
Could you have convinced them to spend more during that conversation? Sure! But you can also do that with your website and content marketing. And you’re starting the relationship off from a place of deception, which is a lost opportunity to build trust.
The magic of SEO
Sheridan estimates that only 10 per cent of businesses discuss pricing on their website (ecommerce excluded). That’s astounding, and an amazing opportunity for search engine optimization.
If someone is searching online for information about the cost of a product or service, this is an opportunity for your website to show up in the search results.
This is also Sheridan’s argument for keeping a blog and building out your website as a resource for your clients — the more topics of interest you share, the more likely you are to pop up when they’re researching.
That said, They Ask, You Answer has been highly influential and I wouldn’t be surprised if more businesses have started posting discussions about pricing. From my informal observations, though, your business will still be in the minority.
It’s all about trust
This kind of honest, upfront content marketing is all about building trust. Sharing information that will help your clients and customers come to a decision builds a sense of trust in your company.
Content marketing positions you and your business as experts in your field, and what is an expert other than someone we trust who has more knowledge in a field than we do?
“Fact is, every business has a single tie that binds them all together when it comes to consumers and buyers, and that is trust,” Sheridan writes.
He argues that we’re all in the business of trust, and content marketing is one way to start to gain trust, especially early on in the sales process.
What we’ve learned from posting our prices
I read They Ask, You Answer in 2018, and we started posting our prices in 2019 with our next website update.
It’s been incredibly helpful to the sales process to have a place where we can point potential customers to start the conversation about their project. As it turns out, “How much does it cost?” is a very common question!
And it has helped qualify leads. Many clients come to us now starting the conversation with, “We looked at the pricing on your website…” It’s a great way to start a new business relationship because we both know we’re on the same page.
Have some potential clients not reached out to us because they saw the pricing? Very likely. But it certainly didn’t hurt our business; the first year we had our pricing posted, we saw a 30 per cent increase in revenue.
I do recommend that you read They Ask, You Answer to hear Marcus Sheridan’s take on all this and much more! It’s a quick, 217-page read with lots of examples about how a wide variety of businesses can use inbound sales and content marketing to improve customer relationships.