Pricing Is A Way Of Marketing Yourself

Published: 7 months ago

A shorter post, but one that is important nevertheless.

I build WordPress websites, and typically use a tool called Oxygen Builder to do that. Oxygen attracts many advanced WordPress developers, as it is a great solution for digital agencies due to its flexibility and LTD.

This article is a part of the BizOfAgency Series, a collection of articles and resources by the Isotropic Agency discussing the business aspect of web design.

Previously published on Entre.Agency, which has been merged with the Isotropic Blog to make BizOfAgency.

Those who use Oxygen hang out in an amazing Official Facebook Group, and discuss many things related to the tool, but also related to developement in general.

I posed a poll a few days ago which resulted in some interesting data and the main takeaway of "Pricing Is A Way Of Marketing Yourself".

That’s the concept that I want to discuss in this short post. First, here is a screenshot of the poll. It includes the number of people who chose the varous price points:

By far, the most popular price point for this poll was $1000-$2500. This was the price that was quoted by these designers to their clients for specific website projects. Of course, this poll is not perfect because it doesn’t take into account what those projects entailed (nor where they do these proejcts, and for who they do these projects for). One would expect a $10,000 project to have a little bit more functionality than a $1000 project.

But, it's incredibly interesting to see how these prices narrow down. The top three choices act as a funnel in relation to both the number of votes and the project value. As the projects increase in value, less people take them on.

Is it easier to close a $1000 project? It looks to be so.

But, in relation to these price points, this poll inspired a few questions by me, and others in the comments section.

Is the $1000-2500 project value range the most popular, because it's simpy the most popular?

In business school, we are taught that a sure fire way to get a sale is to undercut your competitions price. If everybody is quoting a projct at $1000, so should you... right?

Another question – For the higher price points. A $5000-$10,000 project price is in the minority when taking a look at this poll. Is this because less companies are excepting this price point, or is it because less designers are quoting this price point, and chasing projects that can sustain this fee? (because they beleive that the only way to get work is the match others prices?)

Many of these questions are rhetorical because we do not have the data to answer the question one way or another.

There were some interesting comments that seemed to ponder these questions. Specifically, this dialogue:

A designer used to quote projects at €700 increased his price by 1000, or a 142% increase. Instead of seening a decrease in sales (and getting laughed away), the opposite happened. He got more businuess, because his higher prices demanded more respect and offered more credibility – even if the portfolio quality was the same.

A personal anecdote.

My first major website project was billed as a flat fee of $800. It took about a month to complete, and worked out to be much less than minimum wage. I did several more projects at a similar price, because I thought that it would get me more clients & work.

After one project, I decided that doing this work wasn’t worth it. I would either need to stop being a web designer, or increase my prices to a rate that I saw fit.

I looked at it like this: even if I closed less deals and had less interest, getting one $4,000 project warrented the same time investment into prosepecting as 4 $1000 projects. And 4 $1000 proejcts would be four times the work.

I could afford to spend more time and loose those low value projects, if  I closed that one higher value projects.

What I saw was facenating. There is a slight dip in the number of projects that I was completing for the first couple of months. There was a slight dip in the number of projects that I was completing for the first couple of months however, there were still interest in my service. Nothing had changed (I still had the same staff, skills, and portfolio) other than the price of our services.

But I was making more than before. I might have been getting less overall intrest in my outreach emails, but those who responded meant business. Virtually all of them closed and became clients.

Why did this happen? A few ideas:

  • Cold outreach meant that there is no comparison basis. Whatever price I offered to my persepctive client meant nothing, as long as I could also prove that my service would make them more money in the long run. As long as they could justify the cost, whatever it was, they would probably say yes.
  • Increase the prices implied a better experience and end product. When you increase prices, people look at you differently. Instead of being somebody who is desperate for sale, you are a company that knows their value. Instead of trying to sell to the client, the client almost feels the need to sell themselves to you. Of course, you then need to meet these increased expectations.
  • Once you break into this price point, it's difficult to get kicked out. If a client asks how much your average sale is, or how much a website in your portfolio cost to make, you can be straightforward and honest with them. If somebody else paid that price, your client can justify that too.
  • Your previous client also becomes your biggest salesman. For digital agencies, one of the best ways to get a new business once established is through referrals. Your client will tell those who they work with, friends, and family, that they had a great experience with your company. When they are inevitably asked the price, they answer honestly, and the price expectation is there from the start. Again, if somebody else paid for it, it's obviously justified.

Pricing is a way of marketing yourself.

I also have a theory. A client who accepts a $800 website may also accept a $8000 website. I have no proof, just a huntch.

If I was on the other end of a sales call or email advertising an $800 website, and had spoken to others in my industry who were billed $8000 for theirs, I would adopt a mentality of "in the off chance that this engagement works out, I will have saved $7200."

"If this project doesn’t work out, I still have $7200 to spend on a 'real' website."

Pricing is a way of marketing yourself.

By commanding higher prices, you imply that your service is better than others. By commanding higher prices, your prospect  must respect the offer, even if it is nowhere near others.

If you are able to prove  (sales skills do matter) why your higher prices are a better choice for your potential client, well, now you have a new project.

One more thing – do you want to work with somebody is hunting for the best project, getting 100 offers, or do you want to work with somebody who values the quality of their digital presence, and sees why spending more could result in a batter outcome?

If we think back to my anecdote, the moment I raised prices, I also raised the quality of my clients. These clients went from somebody who I had to go back-and-forth with regarding the smallest aspect of the site (even after signing a contract), to somebody who trusted my expertise and simply said "yes, let's do that".

Once you break into a higher price year, you won’t want to go back. Your clients get better, your pay increases, the projects that you build have more functionality, and your brand stock also goes up. It's like a snowball, all you need to do is give it the intial push down the hill.

To close, I want to point you to a post that recently opened my eyes in regards to pricing for WordPress projects. Many people see a ceiling on pricing. Instead, there is a ceiling on pricing for ranges of clients. If you can find the right client, there’s no limit to the price that you can charge (of course, you'll need a track record, portfolio, and happy clients to bill like this).

Read through somre of these comments. This dialouge was espically eye opening:

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