Public Relations

The Bottom Line: Why price matters in marketing communications

By February 10, 2010 No Comments

How much is it? That’s usually the first question out of our mouths when we read about a new, “must have” product. So why the growing trend to remove pricing information from Web sites, product flyers, catalogs, and news releases?

We always encourage our clients to include pricing in their news releases, but some companies have policies that make our request for pricing information difficult to fulfill. To shed some light on the topic, we’ve been polling editors at the nation’s leading education publications over the past six months. Speaking on condition of anonymity, several editors shared their comments on the subject.

Why Pricing Matters
Name your price...For administrators, getting price data saves time and facilitates decision-making. “As a K-12 education editor, I know price is very important to our readers,” said one editor. “We try to provide this information, if possible.”

Another editor put it this way: “Pricing is a key factor for administrators looking to compare and contrast products and services, and very important in their purchasing decision-making process.”

“Budgets are tight,” the editor continued. “If an administrator has to spend a lot of time tracking down a single product,” only to find that the district can’t afford it, “that’s a big waste of their time.”

Extra Steps Don’t Make for Happy Editors
Editors know what readers want, but have to jump through hoops to get it.

Our query hit a nerve with one editor, who observed that most submitted news releases don’t include pricing. “I have to write back to the PR person, who has to contact the product manager or executive in charge, who then spends time deciding what the pricing language should be, getting back to the PR person, who gets back to me…and I can end up waiting for a long time. Some companies have taken weeks, or never actually given me a final answer. The longer I wait, the less likely it will be that I’ll include the product in the magazine.”

Another editor said: “Few vendors do include pricing. I usually have to request it.”

Prices May Vary
Vendors prefer to be coy about pricing, but readers get impatient. And, the vendor may lose valuable exposure.

“I understand that some products need to be described as ‘pricing varies,'” one of the editors said. “But you can’t use that all the time, and for everything; it frustrates the reader because it provides no useful information.”

This editor’s final comment: “It may seem like a small thing, but I think it develops trust with readers, giving them the feeling that this information really cuts to the chase and tells them what they need to know.”

Other editors shared similar observations. Even if a publication doesn’t have a formal pricing policy, the editors strive to include pricing information, especially in sections of their publications that focus on new products. One editor said: “We don’t mandate pricing with product news, but again, price is always on the short list of product questions in the K-12 market.”

Another editor said that if information about a new product is received at the magazine without pricing, that product is simply not included in that magazine’s new product section.

Pricing May Change
If a vendor can’t name the price, at least describe the ballpark. A simple “pricing starts at…” statement is a good place to start, and

We queried one of the editors we’d surveyed about this suggestion, and received this reply: “I think this is a big issue with K-12 — if the school can’t afford it, or if they have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out if they can afford it, they may be less likely to consider the product for their schools. Some may interpret ‘contact for pricing’ as ‘too expensive.'”

Product prices can change, and discounts may be available. Thankfully, most publications include a link to a vendor’s Web site to learn more about the new products that are featured.

What approach has your company taken regarding its pricing policy?