How to protect your pricing –

– and avoid giving things away!

Pricing is always a sensitive topic. Customers want to know how much something costs before they buy it, and suppliers don’t want to tell everyone (including their competitors) what something costs because often “it depends”.

Unless you are selling a commodity product where the price is known at the start, there is a debate about whether you should expose your pricing structure early on or keep it hidden and protected until you can quote. I’m not going to take sides here because there is a case for doing both, and much depends on the product or service, the market expectations and the context.

However, there is one fundamentally important rule that you must apply whether you display pricing or personalise a quote. Always, always, always ring-fence your pricing to make it very clear what that price includes and what it doesn’t include. If you don’t, you risk your customer squeezing more and more out of you and you’ll keep having to say yes.

For example, if you are a freelance copywriter you might charge £x per 1,000 words of copy. Your potential client might ask early on what you charge and if you dodge and weave at that point, they might rapidly lose interest because in that competitive market and at that stage of the engagement, the client will probably be fairly price sensitive. A published price list or a guide will help.

However, whether you publish your prices, a price guide with examples or provide a personalised quote you must define the scope of the service. “£x per 1,000 words including one cycle of edits. Additional edits charged on a time and materials basis”. Looks fair, and stops the customer expecting the 15th set of changes for free.

You can also do some more imaginative price structuring. One-off copywriting jobs aren’t very profitable so it would be better to have regular clients. You could offer a retainer where you will provide up to 3,000 words per month at the same rate but with more edits within the monthly rate. Up to a limit of course! You can also have pricing for research, sourcing images etc. which not only stops that from creeping in for free, it also advertises more services that you can provide.

The final protection is of course your Terms and Conditions. All of these prices are “subject to our standard Terms and Conditions” – which needs to include IP and copyright, usage, payment etc…

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