I beg you, don’t EVER send your price list to a potential client again!
Did you hear me, friend? It’s the easiest way to lose clients and it’s doing nothing for your booking rate, and I promise you there IS a better way.
One time, I sent a price list to a potential client immediately after she inquired. What a disaster that was!
She had sent her website inquiry asking for pricing so what did I do, naturally? I sent her my pretty little PDF. I attached it to the email like a proud mama bear presenting her kin for the first time; hit send from my Jewel Images Gmail account and off it went into the universe. I had a big smile on my face, confident she would reply back within minutes and request a booking.
Boy, did that flop in my face.
She emailed back with some questionable, vicious words.
She wrote, and I quote, “Holy shit. Do you really cost that much? What a rip off!”
She wrote that clear as day in my inbox and her words hit me like a knife to the chest. I can’t tell you how much fun my cute little self-critic had that day in my head. He threw an epic frat party. Like, the senior-year-last-call-before-joining-the-conveyor-belt-of-9-5-ers,” kind of fun.
I learned a stone cold lesson with that email. She was not my client, someone I didn’t want to work with and I had messed up. I had to own it up to the fact that I did not know what I was doing, I hadn’t built any connection with her and I hadn’t built her trust, so was this really THAT surprising? Sure wasn’t.
Trust. It’s the most important factor of any relationship, especially with your customers. They won’t buy from you if they don’t trust you and sending her a price list before she’d even had a chance to know me made her self-defensive walls fly up from about 0 to 60 in 2.1 seconds.
The fact of the matter is that I’d actually insulted her, and that does not feel good.
What I did was cold, in-your-face, and a little aggressive from her point of view. It’s like meeting that new guy on Match.com and he introduces himself with pictures of his paycheck. Too much information, Todd! Chillax! And that’s even BEFORE you’ve gone on a first date. Sure, maybe you know how much he makes, but it’s tacky to do that before you’ve even talked on the phone.
Delivering your price list via email is more or less the same thing and any client who demands a price list like this is typically only making her decision based on price. Your classic Price Shopper. She cares more about price than she does service or quality and is that really who you want as a client? Is that your dream client avatar?
Let’s tackle this issue once and for all to figure out how you can flip the script to make it work to your advantage.
What if she was the right client? Is it okay then? Nope, sorry, still tacky! She may be asking what you cost because she doesn’t know what else to ask. She doesn’t really know what she wants and it’s YOUR job to help her out and make her see why your rates are what they are BEFORE she even gets the 411 on your prices.
What do you need to educate her on? The first thing you should tell her is how you are different from your competition, different from the industry even, and your products. How are those different? Ask yourself those and write it down.
Are you hand holding or you’re a little laissez faire in your communication? Are you on top of it and how are you going to show her that you’re different when it comes to communication? What about planning? If you talk to her about it and outline exactly what you do, not only are you telling her that you’re good at communicating, but you’re also showing her that you know how to make a good plan and you care about the outcome of her session.
You want to address her wants, dreams, and needs. Ask her “why now”? Why are you doing a portrait now? That question is an important one to ask because it signifies the specialness of the moment. Identify her wants. Has she thought about where she wants to hang a portrait? Has she thought about how she wants to see these images 10 years from now? When you ask those questions, you imply that to really care about the outcome and the result.
You want to talk about what the experience working with you is actually like. When you discuss your process and how the client will meet with you, what you’re going to talk about, what you’re going to plan for, or how the session will go, then she gets a very clear picture of why you work the way you do and why your rates are the way they are.
Inject a few core values while you’re at it. What do I mean by core values? Those are the things that you truly, deeply care about when it comes to doing your business. For me, it’s that I believe mothers are rock stars. Moms are the best! We can juggle so much and multitask like there is no tomorrow, we have the patience of an ox. We put up with just about anything and many of us are out there working and trying to make a living at the same time. Family is everything, especially right now, and your home is where your family is. Therefore, your home is your life’s love. I believe that portraits should reflect that and be proudly displayed in the home.
When you inject those kinds of few values into the conversation, now she’s really starting to see what you’re about and why you charge what you charge.
How your service tops anyone else in the market? That’s number five, my friend! You should definitely communicate how you’re different from the other photographers in your area. If you don’t know – then you should probably find out. Do a SWOT analysis, be a secret shopper with your competitors and find out what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. Businesses do this all the time and there is no reason why you shouldn’t do it too.
Next, communicate your experience and authority. You want to talk about how much experience you have shooting that particular subject or niche and you want to talk about your authority. Where have you been featured in media outlets? What awards have you won? These things really put you up there on top of the list, as far as someone in your market who’s the best. Again, that helps to confirm why you’re priced the way you’re priced.
Next, show her you care about the end result and just by doing the previous things that we’ve talked about on this list, you’re already doing that. You’re showing her that you care about her end result.
Lastly, hold her hand and calm her objections. Reassurance goes such a long way. Almost everyone feels insecure in front of a camera. Almost every mom feels insecure about how her kids are going to behave in a session. Just by handling those problems of hers and reassuring her and showing her how you’re going to fix those issues for her, again, goes a long way to proving and showing why you’re priced the way you’re priced.
When you do all this before you actually email your pricelist to new inquiries, in other words, by talking to her on the phone about this, the result is a potential client who connects with you and is intrigued by how you’re different. She’s starting to trust that you know what you’re doing and that you’ll produce consistent, reliable results for her.
Now you hit on price.
She has to get to know you, she has to understand and sense that you align with her values, who she is and what she’s looking for. It’s just like going on a first date. Once you’ve gone on that first date, maybe then you can pull out the paycheck and say how much you cost. I know. Bad analogy, but hey it worked right!?
So, what should you do when a client emails asking for pricing? Only one thing: call her back! Talk to her, engage in warm, open and trusting conversation.
Be yourself and be authentic most of all.
75% of photographers don’t answer their phone and don’t call back that number. That number seriously makes me want to cringe. They simply respond with an email. Think about how much you’ll stand out just by making this one change. If the thought of calling her makes you cringe and throw up a little bit in your mouth, make a phone script with talking points, print it out and have it in front of you. You can refer to it knowing you have to cover everything on that list and when you hang up, you’ll know that you have, and you’ll be confident that the conversation was a good one. If it doesn’t result in a booking, that’s okay! You’ll know it’s made an impression and that is what’s important — a brand impression.
You’ll know you’ve communicated your worth, you’ve been helpful, and that you are different from the rest.
Just by doing that, you’ll begin to attract the right kind of clients for your business. It’s that simple!
That’s all for today, everyone. Thank you so much for taking the time to hang out with me. Let’s #dothework and keep that conversation going.
If you’d like to chat more, join me over on Instagram @JuliaKelleher and on Facebook via “5CaratCollective.”
Join me next Tuesday for another episode and have an amazing week!