Pricing

Hourly coverage vs. “Unlimited”

Wedding photographers tend to be pretty concerned with pricing and how you offer your service.  I’ve heard the argument about respecting your time – that if you don’t charge for every minute the client won’t respect your time and will run over you in negotiation.  But it almost seems too easy to offer “unlimited” coverage and basically make time a non-issue while potentially allowing yourself to be taken advantage of.

I know what I do, and I’ve never been big on making an issue of what I do – you’ve got to do what is right for you. But I do think that “time” is a somewhat strange metric to base all pricing on.  I don’t think anyone thinks about their wedding in terms of how long it is going to take.  It is very difficult to equate deliverables to how much time is spent (sure, it makes sense to us photographers, but I think we understand it largely through the experiences that we’ve had that the client simply doesn’t have).  I do tend to think that many people fantasize about what their wedding will be like – I doubt that any of those fantasies involved a clock.

I realize that time is relevant to us as professionals.  But I think that anything that we care about has to become a value to the client if we are going to make it a decision point for them.  I don’t love making time an issue for clients because it isn’t a positive metric in their minds or anything that they are excited to worry about.  Anything that you make a pricing-based decision point ought to be something exciting to think about in my opinion.  Time doesn’t seem like an exciting thing from the client’s perspective.  I want the decision points to be things they could want, and things they are interested in – I don’t want to focus on what they aren’t getting.

That doesn’t mean that I think you should do “unlimited” coverage.  Besides, everyone who says “unlimited” puts a fucking limit on it anyway which makes the whole concept ridiculous.  Regardless of the way that you build it you need to manage expectations on what you’re going to do, what you aren’t going to do, what options the client has, and what the ramifications of those options are.  Expectation management always rules in this case.  You can’t charge the client more in the moment if they don’t understand what you’re charging or why.  And as a side note, a contract is NOT a communication device (it is a protective device) so you can’t expect them to read the contract and understand how your system works.

But I like to think about it like this – I want to be paid for what I’m doing, not how long I’m doing it.  I don’t think it should cost less for me to shoot because this job is a little shorter than the next.  The value of what I do (IMO) is the preparation, the reputation, trustworthiness, the approach, etc.  None of those things have anything to do with how long I’m doing the job.  If I want to sell those things then making time a decision point seems silly and takes the focus off of the things I want them thinking about.  When you charge for something you tell the client that it is important to think about – I personally don’t want them to be thinking about time.  Your approach may be very different, and you should act accordingly.

What do you think?

 

- trr

 

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Episode 29 – The …a Man to Fish… Photography Business Podcast – Salesographer w/ Spencer Boerup

spencer 29

If you’re a long-time, back-in-the-day listener of the podcast you remember Spencer from episode 8.  Spencer has a new sales product out that I think every photographer could benefit from, so he’s joining the podcast today to talk about how important the sales process is and how to implement his simple strategy for closing $2K+ portrait sales every time.

I respect my audience, and I appreciate everyone who logs it to read an article or check out a podcast.  So I’ve strictly avoided the hundreds of affiliate links to various products and requests for sponsorship and endorsements.  I’m not going to post about anything unless I completely believe that it is a benefit to you and not just a simple benefit, but something that will make a tangible difference in your business.

Spencer has been to my workshop.  That means I’ve seen Spencer’s actual numbers and I can completely attest to the fact that his portrait sales are consistent and impressive.  I love whenever someone can break down an esoteric, emotional process into a repeatable structure and Spencer has done that with the sales process.  You can’t be a professional and avoid sales and this product will help take the stress out of selling and actually make your clients happier with the end result of working with you.

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Who wants to shop at JC Penney?

Check out this coverage of the JC Penney financial situation by Planet Money – listen to the story HERE.

This isn’t a post about retail shopping, it is a post about discounts and identity.

Everyone knows that JC Penney is circling the drain.  Profits are down and they have a revolving door of CEO’s, none of whom are able to change the downward trend.  First they tried to get rid of discounts.  The problem with that was that their entire value proposition was built on discounts.  Their client base has been trained to look for advertised discounts. When they took the discounts away (even if the standard price was lower than the discount price) the loyal clients stayed away. They also couldn’t bring in a new clientele no matter how upscale they went with their rebranding and store design because they were known as a discount store.  Then they tried to redesign the stores to be more cosmopolitan and upscale, with nice seating areas and classier displays.  That just served to keep the core clients away without drawing in a new crop of customers.

So what can we learn from this with respect to discounts and identity?

I’m not saying that discounting doesn’t work.  With respect to photography something selling weddings you might see slight bumps by throwing a discount here and there because the clients are largely one-time purchasers.  But if you’re trying to attract loyal, repeat customers then a discount doesn’t tell people that you’re a great deal now, it just tells them that your full price is inflated.  It tells the market that the time to buy is when the discount is on.  Now if you’re a wedding photographer that works with chains of friends or gets a significant number of referrals from coordinators the discount method may be something you need to keep up – after all you conditioned them to buy only when the discount was available.  When your company’s value proposition is the discount you can’t get rid of it.

Bottom line is that discounts work in certain situations, but it is hard to develop a different value proposition once you lead with “now its cheaper!” – you just don’t have anywhere else to go.

The second thing to learn is that reinvention is hard, particularly on an identity basis.  Your business has an identity, and it caters to a specific identity.  It means something to work with your company (well, it should mean something if it doesn’t already).  You get to feel like a certain type of person by virtue of where you shop.  That is VERY difficult to change once established.  You can put a different filter on your images, you can try a different posing or shooting technique, but your business identity ought to stay relatively constant.  Changing that identity is incredibly difficult because it means throwing out the people who already believe in you and trying to convince a whole new set of people of your value.  If you don’t know what identity you’re perfect for now then the market is deciding it for you, which is a terrifying proposition.

- trr

 

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No one buys because of price

No one got up today with a certain amount of money burning a hole in their pocket.  No one has a sum of money that they need to get rid of.  So price is not the primary factor that motivates purchases.  We only buy things that we decide we want – things that will make us feel good.  Then we evaluate the prices of the things that will give us that feeling and weigh the cost against how well we believe that product or service will execute on the feeling we want.

Stop thinking about price, think about how to make it clear what your product executes on and how it is going to make them feel. What will be true about your clients by virtue of working with you or owning your product?  If clients aren’t buying it isn’t the price .

- trr

 

 Have you checked out this week’s podcast with [b]ecker yet – worth a listen…

 

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A Quick note on Friday

Today is a travel day as we leave Vegas and get ready for the Virginia Professional Photographers convention this weekend.  So we’re in transit but still checking email, comments and Twitter.  As a quick note if you’ve been thinking about attending a future SEXY BUSINESS workshop you might want to check out Spencer Boerup’s review of this past week that was just posted this morning – SEXY BUSINESS REVIEW

The DC workshop (July 23-25) only has 1 slot left so if you are interested get in quick.  Due to the increased demand we’re considering offering another DC workshop date so if you are interested in securing a slot in the add-on workshop please send me an email ASAP – [email protected]

We may be traveling like crazy but tune in for another episode of the …a Man to Fish… podcast dropping on Monday.

- trr

 

UPDATE – The DC workshop is now SOLD OUT.  We are tentatively considering adding another if we get 3 committed bookings in the next two weeks.  Check out the WORKSHOPS page for more information.  Remember that our Denver and Atlanta workshops still have space available!!!