Karyn Greenstreet’s Article:
Should You Put Your Prices on Your Website?
Posted by Karyn Greenstreet on May 22 2012 at: http://www.passionforbusiness.com/blog/should-you-put-your-prices-on-your-website/
The decision to put your prices on your site is a strategic one for your business. In some ways it can make you feel vulnerable.
If you wonder why I have posted a blog on the subject of pricing it is because my fees and those of my staff are a question that comes up almost 100% of the time and comes up early in the conversation when people call or meet with me.It’s because , just as Karen Greenstreet says, the decision to discuss prices on my website does make me feel vulnerable. But it’s wrong to hide this information out of fear that it will turn people away, and so I am grabbing the bull by the horns with this posting.(If you cannot wait to see our pricing and want to skip to the end, you certainly may)
Ask yourself: What does my prospective customer want and need?
Studies have shown  that consumers want to see prices of products and services. Even a price range is sufficient. But many business owners have reasons why they prefer to not include pricing.
I am not surprised to learn that consumers want to see prices of products and services. Even without a study I could tell you that virtually every potential client wants to know what my firm’s services will cost them. I don’t blame them.
How can you decide which way to go? Here are some pros and cons to consider:
Reasons to Put Your Fees and Prices on Your Site
• Trust. Many customers will not do business with a company who is not forthcoming about pricing and fees. They simply won’t waste their time talking with a sales rep only to find out that the price is too high (or too low, which may feel cheap or low quality to them).
Trust between a lawyer and client is absolutely necessary if a client wants to understand and have control over his/her case and wants to ensure getting the best bang for the buck.Frankly, many potential divorce clients have heard so many horror stories about lousy divorce attorneys (most of them are true, folks, although they do get a little exaggerated) that they believe they can’t find an attorney they can trust. Many people are content just to find an attorney they can afford and then they just hope the attorney won’t soak them too badly. That’s crazy. As the Bosnians say, “He who lies for you will lie to you.”One of the things crooked, lazy divorce attorneys take advantage of clients is by offering what they call “low” pricing. I am shocked when I see otherwise intelligent people shopping for an attorney who decide the matter almost exclusively on price, yet these are the same people who pay top dollar for the freshest organic produce and who wouldn’t dare have their hair done at a SuperCuts. Besides, “low” pricing is a relative term. Which would you prefer: a steak dinner from Sizzler or from Ruth’s Chris? It’s obvious that Ruth Chris cannot deliver its level of service and quality without charging more than Sizzler.Yet some otherwise smart people think that all lawyers have the same degree of competence and integrity, no matter what they charge. Don’t expect Ruth’s Chris-level quality and service for a $1,500 lawyer retainer. You can’t. It’s impossible for great lawyers to do their work well without being paid well.
You get what you pay for. That applies to the lawyer you hire. And remember: divorce lawyers get paid whether they win or lose. That means the unscrupulous ones can (and do) promise you the moon without worrying about making good on that promise. That means they lure you in with low retainers and talk of being “aggressive,” because they are telling you what you want to hear, feeding off your desperation and fear.
It doesn’t have to be that way. There are honest, hard-working, and smart divorce attorneys out there who take care of their clients without soaking them. You’ll find them at our office.
• Price Range. Customers want to know what they’re going to pay for your service or product, or at least have a ballpark figure.
Ah, the price range. Does anyone really like being given a price range?“The new model Ford will range in price from $17,000 to $22,000.” We all know that the $17,000 model isn’t fit to transport Jerry Sandusky to prison in.Worse, unless divorce lawyers work for flat fees, they really can’t give a price range. Why? We don’t know what the opposing side of the case will do. We don’t know how cooperative or antagonistic they’ll be. We don’t know how many issues will settle and how many will ultimately go before the judge for trial. And so we cannot give an accurate or useful estimate of the “range” of costs. That’s why the best I can tell you is that a divorce can cost as little as a thousand dollars and as much as several hundred thousand dollars.Don’t ask a divorce attorney for a price range; he cannot provide you a reliable one.
• Unaffordable Beliefs. Some customers believe, perhaps incorrectly, that if the price is not shown, then it must be too high. They reason that if they aren’t shown the price, they probably can’t afford it.
That never occurred to me until I read this article, and this is why I now post my pricing on our website.
• Efficiency. People who can’t afford your services or products will not request a prospect sales phone call. Hear me out: do you want to spend time convincing people on the phone that they can afford you, when they really think they can’t or don’t see the value you are offering? It’s hard to have phone calls with people who have unrealistic expectations because they don’t know the fees. Trying to convince them is a hard-sell tactic that I choose to avoid.
This makes sense too. Why make you call us and make you ask about us about our pricing when we can provide that to you up front?
• Branding. Pricing is a strategic marketing decision and helps to set your brand apart from others. Are you the low-cost leader? Are you the expert who people pay more for because you’re worth it? Your fees tell the prospective customer where you place yourself among the others in the industry and which target market you want to serve. There is no right or wrong pricing strategy. The key is that you’ve developed on through your marketing plan.
We are not the low-cost leader in divorce.We’ve tried to offer divorce on the cheap, and it ends up leaving client and attorney both unhappy. Sure, some divorces are simple and inexpensive (such as when the couple is young, hasn’t been married long, has few assets and debt, and no kids), but usually there is just too much at stake to make a cheap divorce a wise idea.As I stated previously, we charge what we need to do the job well, no more, no less. We do nothing but Utah divorce and family law work. As a result of focusing on just one thing, we know this area better than firms that try to be all things to all people.
• Discounting. For products and classes, there’s typically no negotiation in pricing: either they purchase it or they don’t. You can always create a separate page with special pricing for existing customers or special groups, or offer coupon codes that give discounts, if you want a tiered pricing approach to products and classes. Or indicate that you have payment plans, if that helps your customer with a buying decision.
Discounting doesn’t work for lawyers. At least not for this lawyer. Discounting sends the wrong message to clients, and that is:“Don’t pay us our published rates; because we are willing to discount, obviously our published rates are ludicrously high and only suckers pay them. Hold out for a ‘better deal’ and we’ll give you a discount so that you pay what we’re really worth.”That’s why we don’t offer discounts. Discounts de-value our work and ourselves. We charge what we’re worth, period.
• Budgeting. If people feel like they can’t afford you, but want to work with you, they now have a price-point from which they can start savings towards working with you. I have had a number of clients who tell me that they saved for three months in order to work with me.
This is another superb reason why we have decided to post our rates for potential clients to see.
• Honoring. Your customers are busy and time-constrained. They need information at the moment when they have time to do their research. Don’t make them jump through hoops. Try to be helpful in getting them all the information they need, not just in your pricing, but in the valuable benefits you offer.
I agree and I couldn’t put it better myself. Again, this is why we have decided to post our rates for potential clients to see.
• Information Gathering. People who are looking for a price range so they can get some budgeting ideas may be a perfect client for you. One of the important stages your customers’ sales timeline is the Information Gathering phase when they are researching possible solutions. Get to know your prospective customer’s process for making buying decisions and plan your marketing accordingly. This is especially true when marketing to women: they do a lot of research before they buy.
Reasons Not to Put Your Fees and Prices on Your Site
We well know that there are plenty of divorce and family lawyers to choose from in Utah, so it just makes good business sense to be as helpful to prospective clients when they are shopping around for a lawyer. The more useful information we provide a potential client, the better that person gets to know us, feel comfortable with us, and trusts us.Most women seeking divorce attorneys are especially cost conscious, which is another reason we decided to post our pricing on our website.
Reasons Not to Put Your Fees and Prices on Your Site
• Customized Services or Product. Sometimes you can’t list your prices, because each person gets a customized quote based on what they need from you, like a home builder or a website designer. But you can offer packages with a note that says, “Fees start at…” for each package. Or show them examples of your work and indicate what each of those project fees were.
A divorce is a customized product, but it does not require us to give customized price quotes.We offer clients the option of choosing to pay a flat fee or to pay by the hour.
• Competition. You’re afraid your competition will find out how much you charge. Bad news: your competition already knows what you charge. It’s easy for them to have a friend pose as a prospective customer and get your entire price list. Or your customers tell others what they paid. You are going to have a tough time keeping your pricing private, especially in the internet age.
We have never worried about our competition knowing what we charge.
• Value. You feel that they need to talk with you first, so that you can show them how valuable your service is, before quoting them a price. That is the job of your website. If your website is written well, it will easily show someone whether you can solve their problem and that the price they’ll pay is worth it. Then, when a prospective customer finally does call you, they’ve already been pre-sold by your website and you don’t have to struggle to convince them of anything. I figure if a sales rep needs to speak with me, it’s because they think the product or service “needs explaining,” or that they need to “handle my objections.” Neither is a good excuse to waste my time on something that doesn’t need explaining or should have been explained thoroughly on the website. Need help with your copywriting? Read my blog post on 6 Copywriting Steps for Non-Copywriters.
This has been true for us. We do feel that potential clients need talk with us so that they can understand what a good value in legal services is. It’s not the same as getting a good value on used office furniture. Nevertheless, we understand that most people are leery of being “talked into” paying a fee, so we chose just to cut to the chase and post our prices clearly and without lengthy explanations.
• Rapport. Your service is based on your personality and your rapport with your customers. Therefore, they need to speak with you in order to get the connection and see if it’s a good fit. I agree with this 100%. But if it’s a perfect fit, and they can’t afford you, how does that benefit either of you? Why not put some videos on your website, offer some free teleclasses or workshops, so they get a chance to experience you before the prospect call is scheduled.
Rapport is both a pre-condition to building trust and a continuing by-product of trust. Rapport is important because it eases the difficulties of dealing with your divorce or family law suit.
• Price Fixing. You (or your industry) in concerned about price fixing. By definition, price fixing is a conscious agreement among businesses to keep the price of something unnaturally high or low, instead of letting free-market forces determine what each customer pays. Putting your own prices on your own website is not a conscious agreement with other businesses, it’s not a conspiracy, and therefore is not price fixing. If you’re really concerned that you’ll be accused of price fixing, consult your business attorney.
Publishing our current flat and hourly rates is not a question of price fixing. Besides, we do not consult with other lawyers in determining our fees. We charge what we need to do the job well, not whatever the market will bear.
• Mimics. You are concerned that competitors who are less qualified than you will increase their prices to mimic yours, but offer poor service. Let them. You cannot be responsible for what your competitor does. If they charge too much and offer a shoddy product or service, they’ll be out of business soon enough anyway.
We are concerned that competitors who are less qualified than we and who offer poor service will increase their prices to mimic ours, but keeping our own prices a secret really doesn’t prevent mimics.
• Uniqueness. You feel that your service or product is not unique, but is exactly the same as what your competitor offers. This is called a commodity. But a commodity implies that what the customer is purchasing is the same, regardless of vendor (like milk, flour or gasoline). By being clear on what makes you unique, different or better than your competitor, you avoid being seen as a commodity. This is called your Unique Selling Proposition. If you don’t have one, get one.
Our Unique Selling Proposition is:
• Ongoing Marketing. You’re concerned that if someone sees your prices but doesn’t reach out to you, you won’t have any way to connect with them in the long term. This is where having an offer on your website they can sign up for can help you gather a list of people who may be interested in your product or service. Think: email newsletter, teleclass or whitepaper. However, you need to handle these people differently than you would a bona fide prospect, because they’re in the Information Gathering stage of the sales cycle, not the Decision Making phase. Establish your sales and marketing strategy and funnel, and reach out to people based on where they are along the sales path.
This has always been our policy, i.e., even if a potential client feels he or she cannot afford our services, we still want them to know they’ve found a law firm and lawyers who are knowledgeable and willing to answer questions honestly and patiently. More than once this policy results in referrals by people who never hired us, but thought well enough of us to recommend us to their friends and family members.
• Price Shopping and Tire Kickers. If they’re shopping on price alone, they’re probably not your ideal client unless you are Wal-Mart. People who shop only based on price will leave you when they find someone cheaper. So if you put your prices on your website, you get them to exit before they waste your time. If a prospective customers is truly *only* shopping on price, then it wouldn’t matter if you tell them the price on the phone or on your website.• Not Knowing Your Worth. It’s true. Many small business owners feel uncomfortable setting their prices because they don’t truly know their value. Here’s some tips in setting your service fees.
So true. We are clearly not the least expensive divorce and family law firm. We do not compete on price because good legal representation is not a common commodity like food or microwave ovens. Most lawyers who try to attract clients through pricing and discounting are selling a defective product. We cannot do our job well without being paid well. It’s that simple. If you want to pay as little as possible for an attorney’s services, expect to get as little of that attorney’s services as he can spare.We want to do a superior job for a client. We study, we analyze, we re-work, we innovate. Our devotion to high quality and customer service shows. We know our services are valuable, and clients know it too. It’s hard not to appreciate quality and rarely do you regret paying for quality.
Whether you put your prices on your site or not is a personal business decision. It depends on your business and marketing strategy. Just make sure you make your decision based on what’s helpful to your customer and right for your marketing plan, not based on your fears about what “might” happen.
We know that price is a huge concern for potential clients. It’s something they want to know and that they deserve to know.Posting our pricing is right in line with our marketing plan because our marketing plan is kind of an anti-marketing plan: we want to dispel your worries and stereotypes about lawyers, and we start with being up-front and honest with you.
If you don’t put your prices on your site, it may be helpful to explain to people why you didn’t include them, and explain what the next step is in the process. Prospective customers will be curious to understand why they need to speak with you first.
There’s plenty you a potential divorce client want to talk about with us already; we don’t need to keep you in the dark about our pricing.
People often ask me, “Don’t you think you’ll lose prospective clients that way?” My answer is: I get 10 phone calls a week from people who want small business coaching/consulting from me. I’m not losing ideal client prospects by putting my fees on my website.
We believe that posting our pricing does not turn away the kind of client who wants our services. Not every website visitor will feel that our prices are affordable. Those who turn away based on price are filtering themselves out for us. People who want our level of quality, service, and protection know going in that they are expected to pay for it. That benefits attorney and client alike.
So…should you put your pricing on your website or not?The best thing you can do it test it. Put your prices on your site for two-to-four weeks, and compare the results. If you get more inquiries, more sales, easier conversions, then you know your audience found it helpful.You’ll never know if something works or not until you try it.Do you put your prices on your site? Why or why not? When visiting other sites, do you want to find pricing there? Share your comments, ideas and suggestions below. We’ll all benefit from understanding the pros and cons. I can’t wait to hear from you!
What do you think? Please let us know. Do you appreciate having our pricing listed on the website? Be honest; would you have been more curious and called us if we had not posted our pricing? Your opinion counts.And since you’ve been so good as to read this blog posting, here is our pricing: • Uncontested divorce, in which the parties have already agreed to the terms of their divorce:- $1,500, which includes the cost of the filing fees.
• New clients or newly filed case for existing client:
- $5,000 deposit/retainer. This is a refundable retainer, in that once the case is disposed of or representation terminates, the firm refunds to the client any unearned portion of the retainer.
• Protective Order defense: $2,500 retainer to respond to the request for protective order and to appear at the hearing. Any unearned portion of the retainer remaining after the hearing will be refunded to the client, or the client can deposit another $2,500 to continue with an objection, if the protective order is granted (and it usually is), but the client wishes to object and have the matter reviewed by a new judge.
• Paying in installments. We used to allow clients to make installment payments when we were young and stupid, but virtually none of the clients ever kept their promises to pay in full. We cannot repossess services. We lost our shirts on installment payments, so we just don’t offer financing anymore. Ever.
• Flat Fees. We are offering an increasing selection of flat fee pricing, but have not, at this point, created a “standard” flat fee schedule. If you are interested in a flat fee arrangement, we are happy to explain it and discuss it with you.
Want to Turn Off Website Visitors? Don’t Include Your Prices Posted by Karyn Greenstreet on Sep 12 2011 at: http://www.passionforbusiness.com/blog/want-to-turn-off-website-visitors-dont-include-your-prices/