This is a question that I come across all the time as a website developer for small businesses. Unfortunately there is no clear-cut answer to this, but what I can do is explain some of the pros and cons for you to weigh based on your type of business.
Erring on the side of “Pro-Pricing”
Since we are living in a world where immediate-satisfaction, multi-tasking, and late-night researching are a must, listing prices on your website can be a huge advantage for you. Unless you plan to be open 24/7/365 and answer your phone or e-mail immediately, you could be missing out on customers simply because they cannot find your pricing to compare to your competitors.
Let me throw this out there, I consider myself to be your average, up-and-coming, Generation Y or Millennial consumer. Last year I found myself planning a wedding on a budget while working 50+ hours a week and trying desperately to maintain a social life and a healthy relationship. For anyone who’s ever experienced this, it is no easy task. I spent approximately 6-8 hours a week researching wedding ideas, venues, vendors, and how to stretch our budget as far as possible! All of my “free-time” was after 5pm or on a Sunday, meaning many of the companies I was researching weren’t open for me to call.
So, given the option of Photographer X for $4,000, Photographer Y for $2,200, or Photographer Z for $Unknown, what did I do? I set up an appointment with Y and moved to my next project. There just wasn’t time to wait for Z to get back to me via Email (especially since I quickly learned that it is rather rare for bridal vendors to actually respond to website inquiries). Did I sometimes sneak off for a quick bathroom break during work to call a company that I had found online to schedule an appointment? Yes. But if I’d taken 4 different numbers to the bathroom to start making calls for pricing information my co-workers would probably have gotten suspicious.
Moral of the story:
If your services or products are well outlined on your website and your pricing is competitive, you have a stellar chance of getting my attention. If your prices aren’t listed, I’m much more likely to reach out to someone with whom I at least know what I’m getting into.
On the flip side – “Price-less”
Having your prices on your website makes it easy for your customers to price-shop you to death. If you are selling a product that is exactly the same as your competitor, you may not want your price online. For instance, if you are selling used, hardcover, Dale Brown books that are in great condition for $10 you may not want to advertise that price for fear that they will find it for less somewhere else.
Photographer X from above is a good example of this “Con”, after thoroughly reviewing the offerings from X and Y I chose not to even contact X, only because his price was so much higher than Y, without a good explanation of why he was worth more on his website. Had I had the time, maybe I would have called Z and found out that they were the cheapest option. I guess I’ll never know.
You have to decide what is right for your business.
Who is your target market? Will they be shopping for their business, and therefore able to call for pricing?
Is your service so specialized that a price is impossible to give online? If that’s the case, consider providing a range of prices: ex. “Our services can cost anywhere from $95 to $450, depending on your needs.” Even better, expand with examples of projects that are in the lowest range and the highest range, this will give you a chance to strut your stuff and show what you are really capable of, while letting them think your service is still in their price range.
Will your product or service have a lot of competition online? If so, is there something special you can use to differentiate yourself that makes it worth more money? Can you easily demonstrate that online? If not, then maybe you want to consider offering a free consultation or quote so that potential customers will contact you instead of scaring them off with the higher price.
Ultimately, the choice is yours, there is no right or wrong, just whatever is best for your business.