Art of Message

Art of Message – June 22, 2023

Pricing can include the cost of time

Most pricing pages state the money you pay but ignore the time you pay. When’s the last time you saw, “Starter tier: $49/month plus 6-8 hours a month of your time” ?

Perhaps this comes from our simplistic view of transactions. In this view, buying something means no more time spent than it takes to pull out your wallet or credit card.

It makes sense – we don’t want to scare away potential buyers by presenting the total cost. Which can be considerably different than the total dollar amount.

Take a professional conference, for example. You elect to pay the conference fee, plus the premium add-ons, then the conference website tells you: “Total price: $999“.

But isn’t this “total” price misleading?

Attending a conference might cost you time spent:

  • researching speakers and attendees, accommodations
  • travelling in cars, taxis, planes, and by foot
  • finding restaurants and cafes, gyms
  • looking at weather
  • chatting with a chatbot on the conference website
  • scheduling
  • making online payments
  • and more

Excluding any time at the actual conference itself, you might need 12 hours of time to make it work. Let’s say your hourly rate is $xxx/hr – now what’s the “price you pay“?

When you hire a professional service, it’s a similar story: there’s research, communication, planning, preparation, vetting, payment-making, meetings, meetings, meetings. The hidden price of time is even true of software., for example – I don’t care what your use case is (except perhaps note-taking), if you don’t spend at least 4 hours in research, practice, and study, Notion won’t work.

Like when you pay for a conference online but then spend 0 time doing 0 other things.

As software sellers, there’s an opportunity to (a) gain trust and (b) filter out bad-fit customers by being clearer on pricing.

Another opportunity for another post: add time, not subtract it – like a dishwasher.

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