Aug 2 / Matt Saunders

Should You Put Prices on Your Website?

Cut through the noise about website pricing visibility - this deep dive article will help you figure out the right approach for your business.
Are you a freelancer or service-based business owner who can't decide whether to show prices on your website or not? Perhaps you've made a decision in the past but now, you're not so sure.

If so, I've been there 🙋‍♂️

I've flip-flopped on this topic plenty of times. But after a lot of trial and error (and caffeine) I've distilled my learnings into this definitive piece on pricing transparency. I'm going to help you understand:

  • How pricing is a part of brand positioning
  • The psychology of pricing
  • When you should or should not display prices on your website
  • The pros and cons or transparent pricing
  • What sort of products and services benefit from public pricing

By the end you will have a clearer answer on whether hidden or visible pricing is right for your website.

And if not, you can reach out to me and I'll be happy to give you some personalised advice. But first, let's start with the most important factor to consider when deciding to display prices or not - your brand.

First things first: pricing is positioning

The guiding hand for your pricing strategy must be framed in the context of your wider brand positioning. Put very bluntly, you've got to decide where your service sits on the scale between McDonalds and a 5-star restaurant.

Everyone knows that a burger from McDs is inexpensive. But we also know that a high-end dining experience is going to come with a premium price tag.

Despite both products filling your belly, the overall experience is completely different.

Why does this matter? Simply put, lower-priced products and services tend to rely heavily on their low pricing to attract customers.

Higher-priced offerings, on the other hand, tend to appeal to those prioritising quality of service. I'm not saying that price isn't a factor, but the key point to remember is that pricing is not the deciding factor for higher-end buyers.
Buying factors
[Above] rather than seeing price as the sole factor in the purchase decision, consider it is just one of many other factors to balance in the mind of the buyer.
If price is not the driving factor and is of less importance than the overall quality of service, being transparent and up-front with what you charge may make less sense because that is not what the buyer is focused on.

So the first question to ask yourself to help decide whether to show prices on your website is this: how premium is my service? Is it at the higher end of the market or the lower end?

And if you don't know the answer to this, go look at 5 competitors from both the low and high end of your market. Where do you feel you fit?

Your brand positioning sets a psychological precedent to how people will see you. Let's dig into this a little bit more.

The psychology of pricing: what do people think when they see a price?

Neural network within the brain
Before I became a business coach I ran a web design agency. I launched with a simple pricing structure: the website setup was a fixed fee of £500 followed by a monthly hosting and maintenance fee of £75.

The idea was to draw clients in with a low-fee irresistible offer but build out a volume of clients at a relatively higher recurring fee to help the business quickly scale.

It didn't work. 

I remember seeing the eyes of one prospect widen at the mention of £500, followed quickly by his disappointment when he learned he would need to pay £75 every month. The setup price jarred with the maintenance fee.

As it panned out, the reverse was more appealing to clients: my website setup fees increased massively to ~£6,000 with an ongoing monthly fee of ~£30. The lesson? People preferred larger one-off payments with a lower monthly commitment despite the fact that they would still be paying more over the lifetime of the website.

We humans aren't as logical as we like to believe.

There are many other noteworthy tactics you can deploy when considering how to price your services so they appeal strongly to prospective clients. Consider the following ideas:

  • A fixed timescale for delivery can help people plan and visualise how your service slots into their wider plans. Reduce uncertainty by stating the delivery time up-front.
  • "Price anchoring" can be used to increase perceived value. If you offer a basic package at $499 or a premium package at $599 most will opt for the more expensive package because the perceived value is much greater and would easily justify the $100 extra.
  • Making bold guarantees such as "you'll love it or your money back" or "we'll work for free until you see a positive ROI" are extremely powerful sales drivers.

As Alex Hormozi lays out in his excellent book $100m Dollar Offers - the more you can increase the value proposition whilst decreasing risk, the more likely you will be to turn prospects into buyers.

Now, let's get onto what you came here for: should you put pricing on your website? And if so, where should you show prices and when is the best time to show pricing in the customer journey?

Should you put prices on your website?

Hands typing on keyboard
I have worked in marketing for nearly two decades and have been involved in the building of literally hundreds of websites. I've worked with large companies, small companies and single owner businesses in both the B2C and B2B space. These are the conclusions I've come to:

Consider showing prices on your site if...

  1. Your business is established with a clear service proposition and regular buyers
  2. Your product or service is competitively priced
  3. You sell a product or a "productised" service that can be delivered in repeatable steps
  4. You sell B2C

Consider hiding prices on your site if...

  1. Your business is a startup and your pricing tends to fluctuate as you figure out your market
  2. You are a premium provider and price is not the driving factor in the purchase decision
  3. You have a genuinely bespoke service that requires scoping each time
  4. You sell B2B
Please note the word consider and use the above points to reflect on what is right for your business. These are not intended to be hard rules to follow. To help you fully understand the points above I'll break each one down further.

1. How established is your business?

Most freelancers and solo business owners try to figure it all out from day one. They put their prices on their website then send it out to potential buyers. This approach will help you land clients, but putting prices out there too soon will prevent you from engaging in real conversations about the value of what you do. It's very important to have the "money conversation" with clients to determine where your service truly sits in the marketplace. 

Therefore, my advice to business owners is this: if you feel a rock solid confidence in your pricing, by all means publish it publicly. But if you're not sure, and you don't know what to charge, don't make any public commitments just yet. Instead, talk to your ideal clients about their goals and try pitching at various price points to figure out what works best for you. Then consider putting your pricing on your website.

2. How premium is your service?

As I covered earlier in this article - your brand positioning is directly linked to your pricing, which is in turn linked to how you are perceived by potential customers. 

If the cost of something is front and centre in the mind of your client, public pricing can appeal to these type of buyers. In fact, it's what they will be specifically looking for.

Think about this: are you the kind of person who filters price low-high on shopping websites? Do you buy own brand products to save money or are you happy to pay more for a higher quality product? The big learning point here is that if you prioritise the price of something, you will unconsciously attract like-minded others through your sales copy, marketing and conversations.

There is no judgement here and pricing doesn't always reflect the quality of service (which is why so many awesome freelancers undersell themselves). But you must become consciously aware of how you see money in order to develop a coherent pricing strategy that is in alignment with who you are.

So, hand on heart, how premium is your service? And does your pricing reflect the quality of service? If your answer is "very high" then consider only showing your pricing once a prospect reaches out to you. If your honest answer is "low-medium quality and pricing" the smarter choice might be to put the prices on your site for those people who are prioritising the cost.

3. How bespoke is your service?

There is a difference between buying a wardrobe from IKEA and hiring a local carpenter to craft something unique to you. These may be extreme examples, but the truth is that your service (whether design, copywriting or whatever) will sit somewhere on this "flat pack"-bespoke continuum.

Generally speaking, the more bespoke, the higher it is valued and therefore, the higher the fee. And as we have already covered, the more a person values what you do and the results it can get for them, the less impeded they are by the price.

Bespoke does not always represent higher quality, but that tends to be the general principle. Think about how you present yourself to the world. Does the look and feel of your website suggest a premium service? Does your content take the time to connect deeply with your ideal clients unique aspirations? If so, consider inviting your prospects to book a call with you to discuss the project and pricing.

Bespoke work is more likely to carry a bespoke price. Therefore, publicly stating it up-front can be tricky and if it's too low, it can even repel buyers who are looking for a high-end, tailored service.

4. Do you target consumers or businesses?

Generally speaking, even highly priced consumer products (such as oakwood furniture, novel experiences or electric SUVs) carry public pricing. This is because in the B2C market, volume matters. Products are shipped by the million. In the B2B world, however, services tend to carry a longer lead time and require a little negotiation.

Consumers may want to "shop around" for the best deal where a business owner might prefer to have a conversation about what the best deal looks like. Showing your prices can either support this or inhibit it, depending on everything I've covered so far in this article.

The bottom line is this: are you open to qualifying prospects on a call or would you rather them "self-select" by putting up-front pricing on your website? This might sound like a simple question to answer, but I urge you consider the ramifications of each option in detail.

The pros and cons of showing prices on your website

Now that we have looked at some of the times when you may or may not show pricing on your website, let's take a look at the pros and cons of each. Please bear in mind everything covered so far as this provides valuable context for the following reasons both for and against.

The pros of putting prices on your website

  1. It makes your service easy to compare for comparison shoppers
  2. It enables prospects to qualify themselves before choosing to contact you
  3. It can build trust in you as a service provider
  4. You can apply time-limited discounts or voucher codes

The cons of putting prices on your website

  1. It can be misleading or wrong if the quote you give turns out to be higher
  2. Prospects, but also competitors, can see your prices
  3. It could turn away higher value clients if they believe the price is too low
So, as you can see, this subject is complex. I hope this article has given you a new perspective on the topic of hiding vs. showing prices on your website. It was my intention to demonstrate there is no simple right or wrong answer to this question. Here are two action points for you to consider as we close out this article:

  1. What's your gut feeling telling you right now?
  2. Go with that. You can always change it later.

I've discussed this topic with hundreds of freelancers. Here are some common questions about listing your prices.

Frequently asked questions

Question mark

Should you show a price range or starting price?

If you do not wish to commit to any fixed prices, a common solution is to simply add the word "from" in your sales copy. 

Prices start from £1000
 for example.

Whilst this might seem like a simple solution to the question of whether to display prices on your landing page, it should be viewed through the same lens I have provided in this article. There are no easy answers. There's no "get out" clause for this. You've got to do the thinking, decide on your positioning then go with what you know.

A price range or indication of starting price might be a good idea, but don't use it as an excuse to get out of making a tough decision.

Is transparent pricing a moral issue?

Something that personally irks me is when people conflate transparent pricing with morality. There is a tendency to believe that if you "hide" your pricing, you must be "hiding something".

Well, I hope that I have demonstrated in this article that pricing strategy runs deep. And it's certainly not an issue of morality. You may choose to hide pricing because, frankly, you don't know what to charge. And that's fine. So please do not feel obliged to publicly state your prices for ethical reasons. It's not about that.

When and where should you show your pricing?

If you choose not to display prices on your website, when and where should you present them? The truth is that not everybody is ready to buy right away, and most large B2B purchases require a sales process. Here are some places to show pricing only after a prospect has shown interest in buying:

  • A hidden landing page that people find by clicking an ad
  • In an email to a subscriber
  • On request, when somebody reaches out to you
  • When pitching to a prospective client
  • After completing a quotation form

Each of these scenarios require your prospect to give their details to you. You can judge the seriousness of a buyer if they are willing to work a little to find out how much you charge for your service.

Matt, you've got visible pricing on your website, how did you decide?

I have been coaching for over two years and it is only recently that I put prices on my website. Previously, prospects needed to contact me in order to find out what I offer and at what price.

Why? Because I was finding my feet as a coach in an industry that is still relatively new. I played with my pricing, talked to my clients and tuned my positioning over time. I got a lot of rejections and a few yeses. I've now found a price that appeals to my target client and a proposition that enables them to self-qualify.

Putting my prices out for all to see is working well right now. But I might change it up again in the future. My advice is to be open to experimentation in this way to truly figure out what works for you.

The bottom line: prices or not?

I'm a big believer that your one-person business is fundamentally an extension of you. Whether you know it or not, you're going to create a business in your own image. One that reflects your beliefs and values.

Therefore, the question of transparent pricing is less about what you "should" do, or what others suggest, or even what your customers want. The answer can only be found by going with what feels right to you, then testing it.

This article has offered some introspective questions that I hope will get you thinking deeply about your positioning as a business. Therein, you'll find the answer to your pricing strategy plus a whole lot more.

Thank you for reading, and if you'd like some more wisdom from two decades in business, you might want to download my ebook, The Dream Client Playbook. You'll find a complete system for attracting great clients into your business. It takes just 40 minutes to read and costs £5.
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