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 telemarketer.
Why do you disdain this question? 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.
This cliched pattern is what makes most photographers think that clients book based on the price. The 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.
The problem is, some of them 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 unknowing new 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 happen thousands of times, and it sucks every time.
However, 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:
- What you do in a session
- How you “see”
- What products your offer
- What kind of customer service you provide
- How you deliver
- What experience you have
- How much time you will save her
- If you meet her expectations
- How unique you are
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. 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.
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