Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Price Matters. Price *Always* Matters.

Just had to share this thought ... we like to think that price doesn't matter, and if clients love us they won't care. There is the whole debate over posting prices or not, or sharing starting at prices, or a range of prices.

Photographers (and probably all vendors, really) can often be found complaining about the fact that the first thing people ask them about are price.

Why wouldn't they ask about price first?

Pay attention to what you do when you shop. You are at a large department store, which carries items you can afford, and items you can't afford. You see something you like - a shirt, a pair of shoes, a dress, whatever - you look at it. You might feel it to see if you like the fabric. You might observe how it is constructed.

And then you pick up the pricetag and look at the PRICE.

If you love, love, love it and it is at the very end of your budget limits, you might still try it on to see if it is the perfect fit. Sometimes, that perfect fit might push you over the edge and you will scramble and do anything you can to buy that precious item.

Other times, you try it on, along with some other items that are a better fit for your budget. You love the expensive item, but you decide you can make do with the less expensive version. It might not be as nice or as expensive, but it will be ok for what you want. Or maybe, sometimes, the less expensive item is even better.

Our clients do the exact same thing when they are shopping for a vendor. Why wouldn't they? It is human nature. Don't complain about it. Instead, maybe post your starting prices on your website, or your whole pricelist for that matter. If you're not comfortable doing that, understand that it is one of the first things people want to know, and they do use it to help them weed out all of their choices. They really have no other place to start.

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.

15 comments:

  1. This is SO true, Christine. I find myself looking at labels so much more thesedays, sometimes before I even decide whether I {love} a product or not. It's certainly a factor, and it's good to be reminded of that.

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  2. Very good and yes, I post my pricing online. Why not? I don't want to answer a bunch of calls and emails from $500 brides.

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  3. Well said, Christine - I think it's important that the client sees my pricing before we meet - I'd like to know that they can afford my services before we meet, and I'm sure they'd like to know that too!

    I do find that it's important to get clients to actually come in and see the work and meet me, and not just decide based on raw numbers. We're not all selling exactly the same thing.

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  4. While it may be true to some, I don't think that everyone shops this way. My husband will show me things in the store "Look at this", "Let's get this", and when I ask for price, he has no idea. The point is to fall in love with something first. So that you are deciding on that, not on prices first. Then, if you do, inquire and have prices explained. Because just seeing a price for an 8x10, doesn't mean it's the same product and service at both places.

    I'm an impulsive shopper as well, an emotional one.

    I have had more than one client book me without asking about my prices and without looking at my pricing info prior to the session (even though I emailed it to them).

    Do you think different market segments shop differently?

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  5. Justyna, I actually said the same thing as what you said about your husband - you see things you like and you check them out - and most of the time you then check for price. It is very rare when someone doesn't look at the price at all. Your husband may not know what the price is, but it is something you ask him. And I bet if it was completely unreasonable for your budget, you would probably pass on buying it.

    As for the clients that book without asking about prices, what price range are they booking in? Because I can't imagine that a client spending thousands on wedding photography would book that without looking at the price.

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  6. I completely agree Christine that price is important - very important. What I want to get across to potential customers is that *value* is also important.

    I.E. The lowest price may not mean the best value.

    Most people get this for more regular shopping. However, for photography, the value part of the equation is sometimes a bit misunderstood.

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  7. Very true, Frank! And I think it is so hard for them to understand value of the photography that hasn't happened yet because it isn't tangible to them - so out of that, a lot of people use price to figure out where to start. We definitely have to help educate them on our value as well.

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  8. I found the clients that booked me without looking at my price list (print price list, obviously they knew the session fee, which is average, so I guess not completely), those were the clients that placed orders in ranges of above $1,500-2000 for a portrait client.

    I'm not a wedding photog. I'm just wondering if photographers who book wedding starting at let's say, $10,0000, if they find the same with their client - as your post title says, "price *always matters*."

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  9. Great common sense post!

    Price does matter. And I would add these two, unrelated, considerations.

    1) When I price shop for something - like a shirt, in your analogy - I don't ask the cashier to give me a deal because I can't afford it.

    2) The higher the pricetag, the more we PERCEIVE that item as a better product.

    So, (1) we need to stick to our pricing as best we can (and I do understand that, as small business owners, we often have to do what we need to do to earn money); and (2) we need to price ourselves high enough to be perceived as a worthwhile product.

    Cheers!

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  10. When I was planning my wedding, it bothered me when vendors didn't post their prices. It's ok if you don't post specifics, but I always wanted to know at least a ballpark! Not posting, to me, seemed to come across as "if you need to know my prices first, you can't afford me/don't deserve me." I know that's not what people try to portray, but that's how it came across -- at least to me.

    I did most of my research online and didn't have the time nor the desire to contact a zillion vendors, so it was really helpful to me when a vendor had their prices online as well as samples of their work.

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  11. I think perception of value is important too. Recently I heard about an applicance manufacturer that was having trouble selling their expensive new high tech dishwashers. When they added another even more expensive dishwasher model to their offerings, the "less expensive" models flew out the showroom doors. Same dishwashers, just perceived differently.

    This suggests there could be value to posting prices online and adding top tier photography package to your price list only with the very best possible accoutrements. If your clients are like me, they are going to skip the top priced package on principle. And who knows, likely someday somebody will order the top tier package and make your day!

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  12. I have come across this just googling...phototgraphy blogs...putting prices on my blog (until the website is operational) is something that I am torn over.

    I currently have please enquire as I prefer to tailor packages to suit the client. Has anyone found the get many enquiries from their blogs.

    You have now made me rethink possibly putting starting from prices on my blog.

    I don't charge a lot, as I am not a professional (and never intend to claim to be, for me it is more the joy I get from taking photo's for others) had many comment on shots I have taken and said they like what I do.

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  13. Tanya, the word professional has the origin in the word "PROFIT" ... so the minute you take money, you are by definition a professional. Since you have posts about all the brochures you are putting out there, don't short change yourself.

    The only thing standing in your way is fear. Release that and you'll honor your clients that choose to hire you and yourself.

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  14. I really liked this article! I find it very snobbish that some photogs seem to think "well, you should have to care what I cost, I'm worth it." Well, that may very well be so, but if I make 10,000 a year, I just can NOT afford to give it all to you. I will be looking for someone else, even if I do agree that you are worth the cost.

    Always love this blog- thank you so much, keep it up. :)

    -Heather K
    http://www.irememberforever.com/wordpress

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