With the allure of shiny new things for photorgaphers to purchase at trade shows and everyone pushing this album or that metal print, it’s no wonder photographers often try to carry too many products. The next thing you know, you are juggling dozens of vendors, multiple turn around times and client orders start falling through cracks like water in a sieve. And on top of that? Your clients have no idea what to invest in because there are too many choices! They get overwhelmed.
So how do you choose what to carry? Several factors play into this including salability, cost, perceived value, profitability, branding and time-production value.
Salability really comes down to this question: Will it sell? Do clients in your market want the product? In some markets gallery wrapped canvas may be all the rage, but in others it may look cheap or clients may feel like “I can get that anywhere!” Ask yourself if a product you want to sell is in demand or not. Ask yourself if it’s unique? Can they get it anywhere?
What does the product cost you and what are able to sell it for? This question encompasses cost, perceived value and profitability all in one. Why? They are all related. If a product looks cheap and you can’t charge enough for it to be profitable it’s not worth it. Along that same line, if a product looks expensive and it is, then you also may not be able to charge enough for it to be profitable. Your cost of goods percentage will be too high. So when evaluating a new product to carry ask yourself:
- Does the product “look” expensive? In other words will the client perceive its value to be high?
- Can you charge enough for it to be profitable?
- Can you meet your cost of goods percentage?
So if the product looks expensive with a high perceived value, the cost to you is low and the profitability is high? BAM! You’ve got a product you could potentially sell.
But there’s two more questions you need to ask before it’s a slam dunk.
First, you need to make sure a product fits your brand. If you are an edgy senior photographer shooting high school students with an urban edge, your products are going to be a lot different from a newborn photographer who has an earthy, organic, natural brand. The senior photographer may carry acrylic and metal prints—something that wouldn’t fit at all into that newborn brand. In reverse, the newborn photographer may carry a torn edge, off-white page, worn leather album that may not fit with a senior, modern, edgy brand.
Lastly, think about your time. A product may be great in all other aspects, but take a ridiculous amount of time to design, order and/or receive from your vendor. It may not be worth it. But sometimes it IS worth it. For example, a custom designed album that takes 5 hours to design and order may be great if you can charge over $2500 for it and your hard cost of good for the product is less than $200. If that product costs you $500 and you can only charge $1000 for it, it won’t be profitable enough based strictly on it’s hard costs, let alone the time you have to put into designing it. Make sure products you carry have a good time-to-value profit advantage.
- Does the product fit your brand?
- Is the time to produce the product worth the profit margin? Is it painful to order or work with that vendor? Is your effort to do so worth it?
So when it comes to carrying a product line, throw out the kitchen sink! You need to carry everything. It’s tempting, but the advantages to carrying what’s right for you, to your market and to your profits far outweigh the allure of shiny, pretty things. Your clients will be excited about the process instead of overwhelmed, your time will be valued and you will never over extend yourself for something you are not profitable on. Plus, your brand will be defined and grow stronger as customers identify your product line with who you are. Finally, you will be less stressed knowing exactly what you carry and WHY you carry it. Sometimes in life and in business, less is definitely more.
Fill out the form below to get our free product development and pricing worksheets (example above). Use them to list all products you carry and what you want to carry. It will help you narrow down your product listings and decide what really should be part of your price list.
- What does the product cost?
- What can you charge for it?
- What will your profit be?
- Does it look expensive (high perceived value)?
- Does it suit my brand?
- What are the pros and cons of carrying it? Does it take a lot of time to produce? Is it in demand? Is it unique? Is it hard to sell?