I am totally piggybacking on Marcus’ post over at Spin Sucks, but this is a question I have been pondering for a LONG time.
The two most popular posts so far this year (by a mile) are this post on How Much Social Media Costs in 2011, and this one on How Much Social Media Costs in 2010. Also, three of the top 7 keywords that send search traffic to this blog are associated with the price of social media services. So I only have to look at my Google Analytics to tell that there is a HUGE interest in the price of social media services.
And yet, most social media and/or marketing consultants don’t list their prices. Or if they do, this information is usually buried on their site, in doing research for both of the above posts on the price of social media services, I found several ‘name’ consultants that did have prices for their services, but it was like hunting on their site for a needle in a haystack to find the numbers. It seems that the few consultants that do quote prices are quoting prices that are so far and above what most of their peers charge that it seems to simply draw ridicule from their peers. Which might be the plan, cause it also draws a lot of attention to their prices!
I did start listing prices for my Social Media Strategy and Blogging Strategy Audits, but that’s really all I have solid prices down for. And I also offer a Satisfaction guarantee on both, which is something else I am experimenting with.
But really I want to know what y’all think about this issue. And I can completely see both sides: I can see why it would be better to list prices, but I can also see why it would be hard/impossible to quote exact prices for some services. And to further stump me, I have very good friends and business professionals that have told me I should absolutely list my prices, and others that tell me I absolutely should not!
What do you think? Should every consultant/agency list prices for their services, or nothing? If you are a consultant or work for an agency, what’s your policy?
Should consultants list what they charge for social media and marketing services on their site? Yes or no?
@tammi_kibler Tammi I like your point about giving potential client a sense of where your prices are. I think that was my main focus more anything. There’s just such variation in pricing, and such misinformation out there (“I heard social media consultants charge $20K just to speak to a company!”), that I think it pays to list what you can.
@MackCollier I notice you have…what was your reasoning to do so?
@JTDabbagian Partly as an experiment, partly because there is a lot of misinformation & confusion out there about what consultants charge
@MackCollier Thanks. I’ve entertained making my quotes public as well, but I like to maintain some flexibility too, recession and all that.
My 2-cents: I don’t think consultants should post their rates, unless it’s a flat-fee. Hourly rates will only cause confusion for users considering engaging you. – Most people who are considering hiring a consultant won’t completely understand how long it’ll take to complete a project or deliverable.
Example: Lets say consultant-A posts an hourly rate of $120/hr, and consultant-B posts $100/hr. Who would you hire? – Exactly, a rate is meaningless without context. You’ll need to know more to make a decision. You’ll need a time estimate, and an understanding of quality. (Personally, I’d pay more for someone who’ll deliver high-quality work. High quality strategic consulting work can elevate a project from mediocre to exceptional. The problem is figuring out how good the consultant actually is.)
Point being, there should be a discussion about what you’ve done, why you charge what you charge, and what will be included in the deliverable or throughout the project.
I don’t think the question should be “Should I list my price?” I think it should be, how can I structure my online presence to avoid price-driven customers.
Elizabeth Hannan says
So, isn’t it determined by you sales cycle and potential client vertical? Last year I ran into this issue and my agency (www.BlueBlazingMedia.com) came into it’s own. I love the digital strategy at a higher lever but with employees in place it is no always the most sustainable for longevity in business.
Enter, economic distress and a high volume of interest from small businesses and following the “5 P’s” we now have products and packages with prices. (launching in a week) Here is why, many small business want and want but have no budget so hiring a consultant to take them to that higher level is not an option but they know they need something like a “starter social package” which includes occasional guidance. We cap off small business products based on the size of the conversation and business’s net worth. On an enterprise level social media is a whole other ball game, the conversation grows intensely and affects many other areas of the business.
Finally, your sales cycle should influence your products behavior. Are you looking for quick turn around or educate the world slowly? In the next couple days we will offer products to help both. Adaptability and evolution has always been the sign of a successful company.
I will always love the digital strategy and the life of a consultant but that now exists on another site.
@MackCollier I tell people I’m less expensive than @chrisbrogan and more expensive than you & I point them to y’alls pricing posts. :O)
I list my prices because I’m proud to keep my services affordable for small business folks. I don’t appreciate when others try to string me along, so I don’t do it to others.
@CleverKibitzer Good points, that’s part of the reason why I like the idea of listing prices. A client’s idea of what they will pay for certain services might be completely out of line with what I have to charge. Prefer not to waste anyone’s time, if possible.
I think that small agencies aiming at SMEs should quote some prices to allow their customers to estimate the potential expenses. At my consulting firm (www.thebuzzagency.eu) we decided to give price examples allowing interested visitors to get a feeling what they would be paying. I think this ensures transparency and avoids bad surprises.
Although the prices are just examples we try to orientate ourselves on them and often build packages to ensure competitive pricing.
I decided to post my rates as an example of different “packages” this takes the surprise out of talking to me. People know if they are in the right place when they call. I can then adjust the price on further discussion of exactly what the client needs from us. I think this works best for those of us working with small businesses.