Sunday, May 17, 2009

Things We Can Learn From Apple

The economy is a scary thing right now. We're all aware of this - and I see a lot of people running scared because of it. I understand this for portrait photographers, who might consider their packages more of a luxury item that people can do without. (I know plenty of portrait photographers that have thriving businesses right now though.)

When it comes to wedding photographers, I think we have it a little easier. People are still getting married. Most of those people still want photographs of their wedding day. Now it is just a matter of finding the clients that want to work with you.

I came across this great post today - What Photographers Can Learn From Apple over on Photofocus, and it says everything I've been trying to say for the past few months.

You can't compete on cheap. You have to compete on quality if you want to get ahead.

The post is full of examples, but it really hit home when I read about the part about how the people selling $200 computers have to sell six times more machines to equal one $1200 Apple computer. Which photographer do you want to be? The one that has to sell 6 jobs? Or the one that has to sell 1?

If you price for profit and give your clients the best quality and service you possibly can, you will survive this time. Matter of fact, if you're like Apple, you might be better off than ever before. Apple just had one of its best non-holiday quarters ever, in one of the worst economies ever.

People still have money. They are still spending their money. Stay steady and you will ride out this storm.

"If you’re trying to sell your photography consider running your operation the way Apple does. Sell only the best stuff. Sell only the stuff that people really want. Sell it for a fair but high-margin price so you can make a living and attract the right clients." - Photofocus.

(You might want to take a moment to read this fabulous post on the Psychology of Pricing that Anne wrote. It will give you lots to think about! Anne's amazingly helpful Formulas for Pricing Products & Services is something you should look at as well.)

Christine Tremoulet is a Houston, Texas Hot Mama Boudoir photographer and wants you to have a Business of Awesome. She also runs Wholly Matrimony, a destination wedding blog. She is a creative geek, having blogged since 2000 at BigPinkCookie. When she isn't taking photos or knitting, she is busy devouring all the info related to Marketing & Social Media and its powers that she can find online. Follow her on Twitter.


  1. Good point on the photography side of things. Just build your own PC. Mine is much more powerful than any MAC around :-).

  2. I agree with the conclusion but little of the rationale from the Photofocus article. Apple is in a completely different industry and one could have just as easily pointed at Wal-Mart which has been equally successful historically and in the recent downturn. There's nothing wrong with competing on the low end - it's just a different business model that requires pinching pennies all along the way for customers that are every bit as discerning as high end ones. Since I’m going to shower every client with attention they deserve, of course I might as well price my services to earn a living wage. That being said, the photography industry is more competitive and more difficult to differentiate then the hardware/software business. It’s the difference between an oligopoly and near perfect competition where the startup costs are low.

  3. Apple has 3% of the computer market. I imagine that those 6 computers are sold with much less effort on the part of the retailer than just one computer from Apple. No one would agree that price competition is in anyone's favor but the consumer. However, it is worthy to note that with less effort and expense, a photographer could simply do more weddings and still be profitable.

  4. I'm fairly certain that Macs sell themselves. I've never seen any employee in an Apple store trying to sell Macs. I've bought most of my Macs online or I already knew what I wanted when I walked into a store that sold Macs. When people go into an Apple store they can play with the different models to their hearts content and they should easily be able to decide what they want to buy. If they have the cash, then it's a done deal.

    Fortunately, I've never had to buy a Mac looking at my wallet. I always got what I needed and that was that. My Macs usually lasted about four+ years and I wasn't going to cheap out on a couple of hundred dollars on the initial purchase price.

    Non-Mac buyers are getting really cheap netbooks and low-priced notebooks and I don't think they're going to be satisfied with them in the long run. Those companies are also harming the industry because they're not making enough money on them to build their businesses or give good customer service in the long run. They're trying to sell low-quality goods as an acceptable product. Too bad.

  5. I am a scientific consultant that has refused to lower my day rates. When my regular clients ask why, I just tell them that they hire me for my experience, knowledge and expertise and there hasn't been a 20% cut on that side of the fence either.

    While there are fewer contracts out there, no one has balked at my unchanged rates. Quality wins out every time.

    By the way, I'd be lost without my Macs. Oh, and most of my photography anymore is through my microscope.

  6. awesome, I needed this today! it seems like I am always struggling with my self worth so pricing my work is torture! It's time to get over that!! Thanks!

  7. Great points, Christine. I look forward to reading the articles you've linked to also. I believe there's room for cheap and there's room for boutique. There are plenty of people out there who don't have the money to spend. We as photographers DO have to choose which path is right for ourselves. If you want to support a family, going the cheap route won't work unless you've got tons of photographers shooting for your company simultaneously. But, then you have a major management task. Furthermore, if you're proud of your work, passionate about your craft, and want to give your clients the best care and final presentations, then you can forget about shooting budget weddings.

  8. Great post. Indeed in current economic climate its worth people remembering it's not that clients don't have any money (as Apple's sales figures show), it's the confidence they have in what they spend it on...Thanks for the good links :)

  9. Your so right apple is so much more money but is well worth it. but the bad economy hurts us all.

  10. I guess all said above is right, but the point of the article stays true anyway...
    There's no way to compete in such a hard market if you have no margins, and if you want to love what you do, more than anything...talking about photography, I shoot weddings in Italy.
    I have made this choice, I don't want to hate photography by doing 50 wedding every year..I want to shoot less, learn more, spending time with people I meet and make a good job.
    This has a price, that I try to keep reasonable, but with time people starts to understand and approve it..

  11. I'm no longer a Dell. I'm an Apple!

  12. Thanks. Great points. An exceptional product can still survive and thrive-even in a down market.


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