Want to know a secret?
Price does not convince your client to book.
The phone rings. It’s a number you don’t recognize. Your heart skips a beat as you realize it’s either a telemarketer or a potential client who’s curious about what you offer. Which one is it? Mustering up all the courage in the world, you answer. It’s a new client.
The booking phone call is one of the most nerve wracking times new photographers encounter as they build their businesses. The first thing a clients wants to know is “How Much?” And you dread the question almost worse than that dang robocall.
The big “How much are your digital files?” question. Why do you disdain it so much?
Because you fear that once you tell this new potential client what you cost, she will shrink back into oblivion, gasp in horror and immediately give off some fabled excuse about needing to “talk to her husband” before she can commit. And then, she’s gone forever.
The disappointment is palpable.
Yep….eat that up like it’s spoiled oysters, liver pate, and a little cherry jello mixed in. UGH. It really does suck.
This cliched pattern is what makes most photographers think that clients book based on the price. The VERY false notion is: the cheaper you are, the more clients you will get. And in today’s digital age, cheap is all around us. Photographers enter the market “shooting and burning” as we call it. They hand over a USB of images at a ridiculously low rate, not realizing their costs of doing business, the overhead, the taxes or insurance they need to run a legitimate business. It’s a self-defeating spiral of death that only over time, makes your realize you are actually PAYING your client to photograph them. Wait… wha? Yeah. When you are too cheap and the income you get can’t support the expenses you have? That profession of yours, really tuns out to be a hobby.
A very expensive hobby.
The problem is, some of these so-called “cheap” photographers are actually quite good. And a crop of price hungry customers, flock to them to get the best “deal” they can – devouring and taking advantage of unknowing, novice business owners who are just trying to build a creative living. These folks are your classic ‘Walmart’ customers. They do not value service, product, safety, or experience. They value the price. If it’s cheap, they want it. There are lots of them, and slowly the shoot n’ burner realizes she cannot sustain a business on her prices. She either endures the painful process of revamping her business model to survive, losing all the cheap clients to find more qualified customers, or she closes shop. I’ve seen it happen thousands of times, and it sucks every time.
However, let me take you to the shallow end of this pool my friends.
There is a client who values something completely different.
She does NOT want cheap. She wants unique. She wants the best. The best in terms of…..take out a piece of paper, friend…you’re gonna want to write this down.
What you do in a session:
How do you act? How do you illicit genuine expressions. Are sessions relaxed and fun? Or awkward and stiff? Do you make your client’s feel comfortable and welcome?
How you “see”:
Is your work consistent and styled? If I come to you as a client am I going to get what I see in your portfolio, or will it be all over the place? When you suggest ideas, are they true to what you brand yourself as? Or are they a last ditch effort to guess at what she wants and use the props she brings even though they are no where near the style of your art? Are you confident in your vision with EVERY session and every client?
What products your offer?
If I’m not a digital file client, I want to see what you can create for me. Are you communicating details about the your products and their craftsmanship? How they’ll look in my home? Do you design ideas for me and help me see what I cannot see for myself?
What kind of customer service you provide?
If I as a client, want premium business, then I want a premium service. Are you holding your client’s hands throughout the working relationship? Are you talking about customer service examples in your phone call, and explaining how you bend over backwards to make sure it’s right? Do you explain your process and what they can expect to experience along the way. And by experience I mean the emotions they’ll have working with you?
How you deliver:
Are you installing art in their home, or hand delivering product? What service do you provide after everything is complete. Are you telling her you’’l be there when it’s all over – checking in with them a month down the road? Or Is your offering downloadable only? That’s the cheap way to do it….step it up and make it special.
What experience you have:
Can you show your authority through awards won, community recognition and speak to other trusted businesses who count on you? Communicate how long you’ve been an artist, and where your journey pivoted. Everyone loves a great story and yours is a good one if you think about it and refine it. Off her references of other happy clients. A testimonial is one of the strongest tactics to help a first-time client make the leap to booking you. By communicating your authority, you show the potential client that your business is trusted, respected and reliable. And if other’s trust you, she should too.
How much time you will save her:
Clients who want luxury services, want to save time. Think about it. We all have 24 hours in the day. If you have no money, you are willing to spend time to make something yourself. That’s the premise on which company’s like IKEA are founded. You can buy it cheap if you assemble it yourself. But a high end business thinks the opposite. Why? Luxury market clients only have 24 hours in a day too. But since they have cash to spend, they buy time with it instead. And they employ services like us that save them the HOURS they need. In other words, communicate to her how much time and energy your Hand-holding business will save her. You will take care of it all. All she has to do it sit back and enjoy the process. And the end result will be more than she hoped for and easy to enjoy because all she had to do was hire you for it.
If you meet her expectations:
Great clients want to know if you’ll see and meet their expectations. Are you consistent, caring and invested in her as a customer? And knowing your ideal client’s expectations is half the battle. It means knowing your client. Doing your research. If you don’t have any idea, try surveying your current clients — especially the ones you love working with. Ask them how their experience with you went. What would they change? What expectations did they have before working with you that were NOT met? Yeah, doing a survey means swallowing a big ‘ol, fat humble pill, but it’s worth it. It empowers you to take control of your business and make it that much better.
How unique you are:
Finally, how unique are you? This is tough because it means marching to the beat of your own music—and having confidence the whole time you’re there. You gotta be Duckie (Pretty in Pink), Happy Gilmore, Willy Wonka, Alice in Wonderland, Edward Scissorhands, or Phoebe (Friends) with no apologies or reservations. You have to be true to WHO you are as an artist because if you do, you’ll attract the client who thinks just like you. So who are you? Take some time to define that and OWN it….like a boss. In business….like attracts like. So be exactly LIKE YOU ARE, and no one will ever be able to beat you.
So let’s just take a little breather for a moment.
Hit pause….well I don’t mean actually hit pause…but you know what I mean.
Regroup…slow your roll chicka…….take a zen zinger…
Have you noticed something? I have not even mentioned the word PRICE.
A luxury client wants MORE than just a price. She’s not satisfied with meeting you in the woods somewhere in an outfit she struggled to pick out, only to have you shoot her family and walk away with a silly promise of electronic magic in two weeks. That’s NOT enough. I venture to call it weak, pathetic and small thinking. To serve the best you have to act, look and produce what SHE sees as the best.
Price is way down on the list.
She is a client who does not have a lot of time, but does have the money. And she will spend money on a product or service that she deems will save her time, or a product that is completely unique to the market, or a business that serves her on hand and foot. So, which client do you want? The one who can sustain your business is the high end client.
SO STOP FREAKING OUT AND COMPETING ON PRICE.
It’s killing your business.
Instead, build your brand up to match the price that makes you profitable. Make yourself unique in your market. Outline your booking phone call and bullet point all the factors I mentioned earlier. Make sure you touch on each one in the phone call. Do a competitive analysis and discover what other photogs in your area are NOT doing. How can you be different? Then scream from the rooftops what you provide, and make sure what you provide is what the high end client values.
Now, there is the “in-between” client.
And honestly, most of my clients are in this category. This woman initially thinks she wants a low price, but has yet to research, understand or learn what she values yet. She’ll call asking for prices, but in the process of understanding her needs and communicating our brand, service and product to her, she realizes it may be worth the investment to get high quality. She still needs to think about it, consider her options and talk to her family, but this client is one who almost always books at the consultation. After meeting us, seeing what we offer and after we earn her trust, she is convinced to invest. And that’s what it takes to book a client at high dollar- trust. She must trust that you will provide is what she values. She must trust you will give her something unique that can’t be found anywhere else in your market. If you do, she’ll spend what it takes to get it. And the question of “how much are your digital files?” Will be a distant memory of electronic dust.
Want to learn more about marketing to high end clients?
Our business mastermind the 5 Carat collective opens for enrollment November 9th.
Plus, don’t miss our free series, 25 Days of Design in my Facebook group. I’m going live there everyday to talk all things business design. And….to add on even more fun, we’ve got a free challenge coming up November 2-7. I want you to build or refine a branded, glowing and unique product line in 2021.
So, come join us for “5 Days To A Perfected Product Line” where I’ll walk you through 5 steps to decide what products to create and carry, and how to brand them to your business.
It’s all happening in the FB group. Can’t wait to see you there, and help you get 2021 off to a great start.