Hiding Prices #1 – Should You Hide The Price Of Your Product?

Hiding prices

Hiding prices

When selling products online, a growing trend I see in some niches is to hide the price of the product. In other words, the visitor has to click the order button to find the price. In some cases, there is no price at all, and you have to contact someone to find out the cost.

On marketing forums I see many strong opinions on this issue, such as these real comments:

“I hate it when the price is hidden or I have to ‘hunt’ for it buried somewhere on the sales page…”

“Most of the time if I can’t find the price I assume that it must cost too much and I’m out of there!”

“I don’t like it when the price is hidden… that feels like a manipulation…”

Most people (including many marketers) don’t seem to fully understand why it’s done, so this week I’m going to explore WHY prices are often “hidden”.

This is important to know regardless of how you feel about the issue. You need to understand the thinking behind it, before you decide to do it, or not do it.

Today I want to answer the question, “Why?” Why hide the price from a potential customer? If they’re looking for a price, isn’t that a good indication they’re interested in buying?

Not necessarily. The fact is, most visitors to a site, especially when they are already aware something is being sold, are first of all skimmers.

Let’s say Sally comes to your website. She is there for a REASON. Maybe she’s just clicked a banner ad that promotes your product. Or maybe someone’s recommended your product to her.

Either way, she has an EXPECTATION in mind. That expectation has been formed by whatever preceded the click.

If her friend recommended your product, it’s the expectation that your product is relevant for her. If your banner ad made a promise, her expectation is to find out more about this promise.

Once she’s satisfied herself about her expectation, i.e. that the product is relevant, and/or it is going to deliver on the promise, the next thing that runs through her mind is,

“Can I afford this?”

And this is where she starts skimming to find the price.

This is also where the problem begins…

… because “affordability” is not simply a question of how much you have in your wallet or purse right now.

Tomorrow, in Part #2 of this series we’ll look at how people determine whether something is “affordable” to them or not, and the importance of “desire” to this process. You won’t want to miss this vital discussion, so please subscribe to this blog and not miss out.

8 comments

  1. Hi

    This is a fascinating debate… I’m glad you’ve raised it as I am torn between posting clear prices for services on my website or leaving it to discuss with clients on an individual basis.

    One copywriting job, for example, can be totally different to another. With a service, there can be so many variables. And, then there is the issue of clients haggling over a quote as they don’t want to accept professional prices.

    If I had a product site, I would be tempted to include pricing. However, with some services, it might not be so easy to define costs.

    I always see this issue in terms of what the prospect can gain. Just looking at the cold cost of something, doesn’t allow you to see what ‘value’ is attached to that particular price.

  2. Hi Nikki

    Glad you see you here. I think you nailed it with the last comment, about the cold “cost” not allowing a person to see the “value”.

    As you say, services are a bit different from products, especially when you offer somewhat unique services to each clients. I’ll attempt to tackle that issue later in the week :)

    The issue isn’t as clear cut as many people think, which is why I’ll be devoting several posts to the subject. I’d certainly value your input as we go along.

  3. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for this post, and series.

    In my experience, one of the first questions any potential customer has in the back of their mind is “Can I trust you?”. Clear, transparent pricing helps remove one of the barriers to building trust.

    Making people ‘work’ to discover the price just adds friction to the buying process. Keeping it simple and easy for customers puts you at an advantage against those who use ‘slight of mouse’ tactics.

    Just a few thoughts to add to the conversation.

    Best, Robin

  4. @Carl, absolutely… IF they are ready to buy. Most sales letters are written on the assumption that they are NOT yet ready to buy. In this respect, it depends on how pre-sold the visitor is. For example, if they are coming from a banner ad, chances are they are NOT yet ready to buy (the ad can usually only tease them into clicking, it can’t do the whole selling), so the copy needs to build lots of desire before they are going to buy, as Part #2 of this series explains.

    @Robin, I agree that trust is an important factor, which has to be weighed carefully with other factors, such as whether knowing the too early price will “put them off” even reading the copy in the first place, because they “can’t afford it” and don’t have enough desire for it yet. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Say, If I saw a really stunning dress, if coincidentally I need one for a special occasion and the price is affordable I don’t mind just take it in comparison with the fine quality the dress is offering. — the idea of knowing the quality first before pricing sometimes can attract potential customers more effectively, that I have to agree.

    Knowing all the specifications one gadget or an e-course is providing, before hitting the big ‘pricing’ button although may seem troublesome to many but it’s acceptable; unless you have an attractive discount as main attraction, then in that case pricing can be the main focus instead of the subject itself.

    What I dislike is the need to email for pricing inquiry. At least provide a proper estimation if you’re not the sole distributor of the product.

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker

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