Should You Keep Your Rates a Secret?

Should You Keep Your Rates a Secret?

In retail, there’s no question that every item for sale has a price tag, whether it’s online or in a shop, but for service-based businesses it seems to be a different matter entirely. You’re nearly always promised a quote only after you get in touch, with not a single visible price. But why is that? And more importantly: Are we all missing a trick?

Why So Shy?

Attacat rates smallIn my opinion, if you don’t communicate your rates in someway, you’re missing out – unless of course you are in the “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it” business. Price is always a sensitive topic, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about it.

On the contrary, you will find that you are converting more potential clients into paying clients if you do. Let’s find out why you shouldn’t keep your rates a secret and how you can avoid losing out by publishing them:

The PROs

1. Save Time

rates for ongoing engagement attractNobody likes to talk money, but wasting time is even worse. Putting your fees on your website tells potential clients what to expect and, most importantly, if they can afford you in the first place. This cuts out awkward calls, emails and consultations and removes a serious obstacle on the way to becoming your client.

2. Target Effectively

Another result of displaying your rates openly is targeting your ideal client more effectively, as your prices reflect your target audience and hence work as a filter. Whether you want to attract as many new clients as possible or get rid of discount hunters and price shoppers, visible rates help you attract the right people.

3. Be Trustworthy

Show people that you have nothing to hide. Your rates are what they are and being open about them builds trust; customers know what to expect and don’t have to worry about hidden fees. Give potential clients as much information as they need in order to make an informed decision and you’ll build relationships that last.

Find Your Own Way

I think you can only gain from being upfront about prices, especially if you’re working in a specialised area where people have no idea what to expect, or offer a service that is perceived as expensive. That’s why I have a page on my website displaying my rates.

Of course, there’s no one size fits all solution. Depending on your business, target audience and services, it’s not always as easy as putting up a price list. Plus, there are valid reasons to be wary of showing your hand like this, so here are a few tips on how to show your rates without giving too much away:

The CONs (And Workarounds)

Attacat rates 2 small

1. The Competition

I often hear that small business owners in particular don’t want their competition to take advantage of them, but you can avoid that by just giving a ballpark figure. For example, if your work is project-based, tell people your hourly or daily rate. That gives potential clients an idea what to expect, but the competition still doesn’t know how many hours you quote for specific projects.

2. Tailor-Made

Another valid argument is that as services are so customised, you can’t tell how much a project will cost until you know all the details. If so, it’s still helpful for potential clients to know your basic rates. Give them a ‘starting from’ price or add an FAQ to your website in order to clearly establish what size projects you’re looking for.

3. Price Per Client

It’s a fact: There are different rates for different clients. For example, you’ll quote differently for a charity than for a local business, and that’s nothing on what you’d quote if Richard Branson came knocking, so keep it open. It’s absolutely sufficient to show a range, give examples or simply explain your process. Then, add a little note saying that specific quotes for charities and large-scale projects are available on request.

In general, you don’t have to be absolute in your pricing information. It’s often more than enough to give examples or approximate rates, as long as it helps potential clients decide if they can, and want to, work with you.


To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
SEO or: How to Make Sure Your Website Is Found by the Right People
How to Make the Best of Price Shoppers
How I Found My Ideal Client & What I Learned Along the Way
Search How to Declutter Your Website for Quick, Easy Conversions


Published byDenise Strohsahl

Denise Strohsahl is an Edinburgh-based marketing consultant, specialising in helping small, local businesses get more of their ideal clients.