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Listing Prices On Your Website

I had a very frustrating shopping experience the other day.  I wanted to share this with you.  Here it goes…

I’ve been shopping around for better health insurance and have been busy comparing rates and benefits from different providers.  I’m not necessarily shopping for the cheapest insurance.  I realize that not every health insurance plan is the same and I’m willing to pay for better coverage.  But, it is important that I know what I’m getting myself  into in terms of cost.

Some sites were easy to navigate and I was able to determine what I will roughly be getting and for how much.  Other sites were void of any information.  AND – there was nothing to give me an idea of how much I would be spending.  I realize I won’t get a fixed quote until I can speak with an agent and give them all my exact details.  But, I’d like to know what I can generally expect for someone of my age with 2 family members.  It doesn’t have to be exact.  But, there is a lot of difference between $500/month and $3000/month.

On the sites where I could not get any information, I had to fill in all my contact information and wait for someone to contact me.  I don’t like being SOLD at, so this doesn’t sound appealing to me AT ALL… not without having some general information under my belt.  I want to be able to research a bit on my own before talking to someone about what their health insurance plan can give me.  I want to be an informed decision-maker.

Do your clients go through this?

I realize that health insurance is A LOT different from wedding services… but… are your potential clients experiencing frustration from your website?

I encourage most* wedding pros to list starting rates on their websites.  Potential clients need a general idea of what wedding services will cost.  Yes – our services are very customized and it’s impossible to give a fixed price until we have a consultation.  (This is much like health insurance.)  BUT – you should have ‘starting rates’ on your website.  People need to have the ability to research on their own.  They need to have general information at their disposal.  Or, they’ll leave… frustrated before they’ve even met you.

Have you had this experience before while trying to buy something?  How did it make you feel?

_____________________

*I say “most” because every business is different and every business has a different target market.  If you are a very high-end wedding planner I would not encourage you to list pricing.

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July 5, 2011 - 7:29 am

Valerie Metrejean - So true! I’ve searched for new photographers for my clients and unfortunately if it’s crunch time and their site doesn’t give me any idea of pricing, I move along. I don’t normally fill out the forms. I always suggest to vendors that even a starting at price will save them time spent in consultations that wouldn’t have taken place had a potential client known their cost.
Having prices on my site as a wedding planner means a reduced QUANTITY of consultations but higher QUALITY because they know my prices and are ready to book based on it.

July 5, 2011 - 7:41 am

Sara @ Bella Notte - Putting starting rates on my website was one of the best things I ever did. Since it helps qualifies leads it saves time for both the clients and me!

July 5, 2011 - 10:25 am

Reagan Z - My husband & I just had this discussion because we were tired of getting lots of leads but only booking a small percentage of those since we didn’t list our starting rate on our site. Lots of wasted time for us going through the process of setting up calls/consultations when we were out of their budget. We decided to put our starting price back on our site, so we will see how it goes. Great post!

July 5, 2011 - 3:59 pm

Lauren @ ELD - YES! Everyone needs to do this to not only save time and frustration, but it will also educate brides on base pricing for all wedding vendors, instead of them spreading incorrect information around!

July 5, 2011 - 4:08 pm

Tarri - This is a very good post and I am so torn. I listed prices once before then decided to remove them. I also do not like to give prices over the phone and insist a consultation first. I book 75% of my consultations but lose out on even getting some consultations. I wonder if it’s because I do not quote beforehand. Something for me to definitely ponder. Thanks!

July 5, 2011 - 4:10 pm

Casie (@TheNameIsCasie) - I could NOT have said it better myself! If Im in a store and what Im shopping for ISN’T marked with a price? I typically put it down & go elsewhere! When looking online and researching? It’s the same way — if I can’t get an IDEA of whether or not the product/service is in my budget? I keep looking until I find someone who is willing to list a starting rate on their site! Ease of navigation in the internet world is HUGE too! If it’s a Cluttered/Confusing site? Im outta there.

July 5, 2011 - 4:43 pm

Michelle Loretta - Tarri – I would never give prices or quotes online or over the phone. What we do is far too customized and special to be doing so. I do however recommend giving a starting rate. This just helps the potential buyer know if you are in their ballpark or not. It’s OK to say, “Our services begin at $xxxx and we encourage you to schedule a consultation so that we can discuss your needs in more detail.”
On a separate note – I do know some wedding pros *LOVE* to consult with potential clients and educate them on services and pricing. These pros generally love the sales process, are VERY good at selling, and find that they are able to win over people if they can just get a meeting with them. These pros do want the opportunity to explain what they do in person. If you fall into this category – then keep going. You’ve learned how to finesse your educating and selling and are able to prove your value in the consultation.

July 5, 2011 - 5:20 pm

Heather at Outstanding Occasions - Love this post! I agree that listing prices saves time for the prospective client and the wedding professional. Some professionals complain that if they post their prices that “competitors” will copy them. To that I say WHO CARES! They might copy your prices, but they can’t copy your experience, professionalism or personality. Since Jennifer and I only do full planning, we have not only included it on our services page, but also allow people to check a box for owner ($8000+) or associate (Final Prep to Full Planning $1500-5000) on our contact page.

July 5, 2011 - 5:49 pm

Michelle Loretta - So true Heather… some pros don’t want to list their prices for fear of the competition. But a new pro can’t just match price for price with another business without taking into account all the factors you listed. Pricing isn’t the “secret sauce”… it’s all that other good stuff you mention. If anything, maybe it saves time from new pros “secret shopping” you via email. AND – it helps to educate the newer pros on what wedding services should truly be priced at. Great feedback. Thanks for sharing your experience!

July 27, 2011 - 5:04 am

Allen Michael Newsum - http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Wedding-Event-Businesses-Discussion-Forum-2539188?goback=.gsm_2539188_1_*2_*2_*2_lna_PENDING_*2

Thanks for this see post asking the same question. This is a question that no doubt has many vendors perplexed. I hope you will participate in my forum.

July 27, 2011 - 11:42 am

A BETTER DJ AND PHOTOGRAPHER - Good post! We definitely believe in posting starting prices! We are currently operating in 39 states on our way to nationwide and certainly don’t have time to do individual price quotes. Once you’ve sold the same service a few thousand times it’s pretty easy to settle in on a starting price that will entice brides to call you so you can work with them on designing he perfect custom package for their event.

Valerie, next time you need a photographer give us a call. We are easy to work with, have over 100 expert wedding photographers in Florida, and only charge $500 for 6 hours :D

July 27, 2011 - 2:34 pm

URRNWIFE2012 - this is so true. it definately elimate a lot of wasted time spend emailing vendors that you can not afford. let couples know up front what you expect financially for your services so that we can decide if it is in our budgets to further discuss your services.

September 13, 2011 - 6:45 am

Margaret Sneddon, Harpist - Couldn’t agree more. This situation reminds me of the time we were traveling cross country and looking for accommodations on the GPS. We needed to know whether the places were within our budget right away. In the car, we weren’t in a position to fill out forms and we weren’t really interested in making lots of phone calls. If the prices weren’t listed, we didn’t even consider spot.

I know this isn’t an exact parallel but I have been listing my prices on my web-site with good results for years. If someone calls me after looking at my web-site, chances are they are truly interested and not just shopping.

October 4, 2011 - 6:20 pm

Ron Dawson - I’m excited. I get to be the first dissenting voice. :) Man. I could write for hours on this topic.

HERE’S THE READERS DIGEST VERSION:
If one’s source for client referrals is so great that one really doesn’t need to waste time with random passersby, by all means, include your rate. But, IMHO, it’s worth the marginal increase in work to engage with these prospects for the chance at winning their business. If you put the right systems in place, you can mitigate the excessive waste of time many vendors experience.

LONGER EXPLANATION:
I don’t want to give any potential client a reason NOT to call me or engage in a conversation about their project (for purposes of this discussion and given the context of this site, let’s say weddings.) This will differ for different services, but for me, as a filmmaker, a creator of a piece of unique art, hiring me involves so much more than what one goes through when getting insurance. Insurance is a commodity. Sure, one insurer may have better service and options than another, but bottomline, you’re looking at one company giving you the ability to get health coverage, ostensibly from the same set of doctors. Price is HUGELY connected to whom you will choose.

For videography and photography, it goes so much beyond that. It’s a combination of how their art moves you, plus how you relate to the vendor. Is this some person you want to hang out with all day on arguably the most important day of your life? Price is indeed important, but when you make it more about the price than about the art or the individual, you’ve in essence reduced your service to a commodity (like a hotel, as Margaret pointed out).

I remember in one year as a wedding filmmaker there was about $18,000 worth of jobs I got from a small set of clients that I know for a fact I would have lost if I had my starting rates on my site. They all had either zero budget for video or less than half what they ended up investing in my studi. Because they saw my work, they were engaged and intrigued enough to contact me. Because I had a set “script” for phone calls and templates for emails to quickly assess their ability to afford my services, while at the same time allow me to create a rapport wherein they liked me as an individual, we were able to move to a point where I could 1) educate them about the importance of video, and 2) get them to like me and want me at their wedding. That never would have happened if I had a starting rate that would have most likely scared them off.

In truth, there really is not right or wrong answer to this question. It’s about what works best for your business. For mine, it was not losing a sale before even getting the chance.

October 5, 2011 - 5:01 am

Being Viewed as a Commodity Will Affect What You Can Charge | Dare Dreamer Magazine - [...] this year, expert wedding professional Michelle Loretta of Sage Wedding Pros wrote her own blog post about the topic of having a price on your website. Her take was different than mine, which is okay. [...]

October 6, 2011 - 5:50 am

Michelle Loretta - Ron – I think you make a great point… especially where video is concerned. Unfortunately, many engaged couples don’t see video as a necessity. In most circumstances the potential client is needing the education about video for their event. (I know this was the case for me long before I was in this industry when I was married almost 8 years ago. I’m glad I was educated and treasure my wedding film probably more than my photography.) Who is going to do that education best? The business owner him/herself, the filmmaker.

But, I don’t think this is the case for every service. I’m still of the belief that people want information when researching their wedding services… everything from pricing, to information about the services, experience, etc. And, for many potential clients they will gloss over any businesses that can’t give them at least a ballpark figure. I know I’ve passed on businesses that ‘looked’ too expensive for me because they didn’t have pricing only to learn that they were within my price range. That’s a shame – for me and for that business.

LOVE the debate, Ron. Always fun and educational for me! :)

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