“You’re too expensive” or “you’re just out of my budget.”
Whether we are the highest priced or the lowest priced business in our area, chances are most photographers have heard this at one time or another. Business owners may dismiss these comments as something that just comes with owning a business (which is correct). We may assume that this client just doesn’t value our work (which might be possible). Photographer friends may chime in and assure you that these clients “are not your target client” or that this client is “just too cheap”.
This may be true in some cases, but in many situations the reality is that the prospective client just hasn’t yet seen how you are different from the photographer they spoke to last. This prospective client has what marketing professionals call a “price anchor” in their head. A price anchor is a number or a range that they think is logical and fair. It’s a number they come up with based on a previous encounter with a similar product.
The really interesting thing is that this price anchor may not actually be set in stone… for the right photographer.
To understand this we need to delve into buying psychology a little bit. This kind of stuff is actually a whole career specialty (and years of university education as well!) but for our purposes here, we can summarize this by saying this: people who buy things have a price in mind largely because they have been told repeatedly what price to expect.
We go to the grocery store and expect a gallon of milk to be under $10.00 (and usually under $5.00) because it was that price last week, and it was in the flyer for that price, and the last three stores we were in had it listed at that price. It’s logical for us to mentally place the value of a gallon of milk at the price we’ve seen before, right?
The same thing happens when a client is shopping for a photographer. If they have invested thousands of dollars in products, albums and other keepsakes each of the last few times they have hired a photographer, then they will have that price point in mind when they shop for another photographer. If they have purchased photography services and products for the bargain price of $20, they will expect that price point.
But, wait! If we already begin shopping with a price point in mind, then it’s futile to try and work with clients who claim we are too expensive, right?
You’ll expect your usual gallon of milk to be close to your usual price… but you probably also expect to pay a little more for organic milk, right? Maybe a little more still for a pretty glass bottle? Or maybe a little more from a small local dairy than a big chain store? Maybe you’d even pay $5.00 for a coffee chain to steam a 16 oz cup of milk and add cinnamon to it on a cold day. A 16 ounce cup of milk, for the same price as a whole gallon! Why would you pay that?
Because they are different!
Yes, it’s still milk, but that coffee chain is providing a lovely smelling place to order your steaming cup, and some comfy chairs to relax in; and they’re steaming that milk, wrapping it up in a convenient cup, adding tasty toppings, and serving it to you nearly instantly and on demand (or at least faster than it would take you to go home and do the same yourself). So that price point you have in your head for the cost of milk is completely irrelevant when it comes to purchasing that hand-warming, steaming-hot, frothy, sweet cup of deliciousness in your hands. (How many of you want a hot cup of something right now?)
The same is true for our photography work. If what you offer your clients is exactly the same as the next ten photographers down the street, then the price point your prospective client will have in mind will be whatever they were quoted by the first business they called.
Craft a different experience for your client and watch as those mental comparisons begin to melt away.
Kat Forder creates stories of life, love and make-believe from her studio in Maryland and around the world. On her days off you can catch her curled up with a cup of tea and a good book, or roaming with her two Shetland Sheepdogs.