Photographer Pricing Strategies – Packages vs a La Carte

One of the most common questions I see in various online photography forums is related to the topic of pricing.

Have you ever asked yourself: am I charging too much?  Am I charging too little?  There are many variables that all play a role into knowing what the “right” answer is and also which pricing strategy works best for you.

Photographers aren’t the only ones that struggle with pricing. Pricing is a hot topic for every business and there are many different pricing strategies that may work best for you depending on not only what your clients prefer but also which are your own strengths vs weaknesses.  Today I want to discuss the two most common types of photographer pricing strategies – package pricing vs a la carte pricing.  I will summarize the pros and cons of each so you will have a clear understanding of which of these pricing strategies may be best for you.

Pricing Strategies for Photographers

Package Pricing

Pros:

  • Bundles = savings – One of the biggest reason reasons packages are so popular is by bundling a group of items together you can (and should) add value to your clients by discounting the group of items when purchased together relative to the items relative price when purchased by itself.  This is what McDonalds does with their “value meal” – even though you might not need the drink, its a better “value” and thus people will buy it.
  • Easier to forecast revenue – With set packages you often sell once to your client at booking and that’s it, so there are no real unknowns of how much money you have on the books or will having coming in, in future months or years.
  • Perceived value – The greatest strength of using packages is the idea of being able to “create” perceived value to your clients.  The best way to do this is to have a higher price for any particular item on your “add-on” items pricing menu so when they are included in the packages above you are able to quantify, in dollars, how much the true value/price is of the items when purchased a la carte compared to your discounted package price.  Thus, giving the perception, and reality, that they are getting a “super deal” with your packages.
  • A one time sale – Packages work great for those who hate having to discuss pricing or “selling” at all because if you set your packages up correctly they can sell themselves and you end up booking the total package all at once and up front.
  • Easier to funnel – By having multiple package choices you can use human psychology to your advantage and naturally steer your clients into your middle and upper package, which should be your target packages.

Cons:

  • Bundle risk – If you include items in your packages that your clients don’t want or care about, than you are hurting yourself more than helping because it isn’t a value added item for them and they feel as if they are paying for something they don’t want or need.
  • Potential less revenue per client – By having only a single point of sale happen right at the onset of booking, not meeting again to give the client a chance to purchase anything else, packages often lead to less over revenue per client booking.
  • Selling big upfront before service – Trying to sell a big package right away before a client has had a chance to work with you is a much more difficult decision for the client compared to selling to them over time after you have proven yourself and built trust with you.

A La Carte Pricing

Pros:

  • Flexibility – A la carte pricing will allow the client to book whatever they want, whenever they want.  Its flexible and caters to the clients needs.
  • Lower cost entry point – By breaking up the package into individual components, the a la cart pricing strategy will offer a lower initial cost which may allow for potential clients to have the chance to book you that otherwise may not have the budget for a complete package at the moment.
  • Potential higher revenue per client – By simply creating more than one opportunity for clients to purchase from you, they are very likely to purchase more overall compared to if only 1 point of purchase.  For example – doesn’t making a series of smaller payments “feel” much easier to you than making the entire large purchase upfront? Despite paying more in the long run…
  • Easier to book – By offering fewer items in your base coverage upfront (like coverage only), it defers other decisions to be made at a later date which makes for an easier decision process.
  • Selling to client after trust established – Simple but true.  A consumer is more likely to buy from someone that they know, like and trust.  Therefore, once you are done with the actual shoot and have done a great job and given them an amazing experience, your client is not only more likely to buy from you but buy more.

Cons:

  • More “selling” per client – To make the a la carte strategy work to its true potential you have to have a sales session more than once.
  • More risky – Along with the chance to make more money overall, there is also a significant risk that you can make less per shoot since a large portion of your planned revenue is to come after the event, at a separate point of sale.  Put another way, there is no guarantee with how much, and when you will be able to sell additional products to your clients.
  • Less popular pricing method can cause confusion – Specifically with weddings, package pricing is far more popular and widely used than a la carte, because of this, the simplicity of a la carte can actually become confusing for clients.

 

As you can see from the above comparison there are many different photographer pricing strategies and many reasons why one pricing strategy might work better than the next.  The important thing is for you to decide what exactly works best for your clients and caters to your personal strengths.

There is a tremendous amount of variables that go into creating successful photographer pricing strategies and that is why I’ve created a 20 page detailed e-book all about pricing called: “Pricing Yourself for Success Pricing Guide – Creating a Pricing Structure that Works for YOU”  which dives into detail on this topics:

  • Pricing Structures – Packages vs. A La Carte
  • Which Pricing Structure is Best for You
  • Creating Packages that Sell Themselves
  • How to Capitalize with A La Carte Pricing
  • Finding the Right Price: How Much Should You Charge?
  • The Importance of Knowing Your Costs
  • The Key to Higher Profits
  • Also includes proven sample packages & a la carte pricing templates you can modify & use for your business!

If you want to make sure you are making money and not loosing money with your photography business and find out what is the best for you and your clients, this pricing guide could very well be the best $49 you’ll spend on your photography business!  Get the guide (instant download) right here.

Till next time…

Don’t be a stranger!
Cole