I am writing this from 28,000 feet in the air as I am flying back home from Mexico, but before I return back in San Diego on land, I wanted to share some helpful pricing tips with you.
Now – you might be wondering, what the heck does Mexico and airplanes have to do with your photography business – but don’t worry, we’ll get there in a couple minutes.
Let me first tell you a little story…
Each day of our vacation we’d lounge down on the Mexican Cabo San Lucas sand on Medano beach to work on our tan and enjoy some “refreshments”. While relaxing on the beach, there would be a constant flow of Mexican beach vendors walking by with their goodies to sell and each and every one of them would do their best asking us if we wanted to buy something.
No senor, I don’t need any henna tattoos or hand woven bracelets with my name on it!!! (Sorry for that side note, but I don’t think I am their “target client” for henna tattoos and colorful bracelets)
Now don’t get me wrong, some of their goods caught my eye and I certainly bought a few items from the beach vendors like my super rad abalone shelled bottle opener, or the hand painted food tray and the hand painted wooden fish wind chimes for my parents.
But with each purchase and transaction, a few lessons were learned that I’d like to pass along to you to use in your own photography business.
Never Lower Your Price!
In Mexico, haggling is a part of the game…it’s actually expected and respected if you bargain and haggle with the vendors (within reason) but in the US that isn’t really the culture. The problem though is you should never lower your price for your services – ever…unless you take out services to accommodate a lower budget.
The reason why is simple – word of mouth will come back and bite you and you’ll be put in a continual awkward position of potential clients telling you they want the price you gave to their friend Mary and not your retail price on your packages.
In my case, I knew I wanted the abalone fish bottle opener and I knew I didn’t want to spend more than I did last year when I bought one as a gift – last year I paid $7 for one so that was my expectation and “price anchor” I had in my head. When Francisco walked by and I said “cuanto questa” he said, $22.
All it took for me was to simply tell him that was much more than I paid last year for the same item and when he asked how much I said $7 and over the next few minutes we went back and forth and he ultimately made the deal at my price and offer of $7.
The lesson is don’t ever let someone haggle you and your photography because once you do, you’ve set a precedent for future business.
Price Anchoring Works So Do It!
The theory behind price anchoring is simply the first price your customer sees is often the number that sticks in their head and if it’s a high number, then any lower numbers they see often “feel” like a better deal or value relative to the price anchored figure.
It is the primary reason that Mexican beach vendors like Francisco in the story above or Bernardo – the food tray painter I also did business with, always start off with an initial price that is so much higher than it should be.
For example, was my bottle opener worth $22? No way…but it sure did make it seem like I got a great deal at $7 for it!
For the hand-painted wood tray I bought, it went from $55 to $22, another “killer deal” when in reality the initial price was simply overinflated.
So in your own business you can and should use price anchoring in how you structure your packages.
Simply have your highest package be a fair amount greater than your middle package and that way when your clients first see that package, they will more than likely choose your middle package which is really your “most popular” package anyway – right where you want them.
Don’t Chase Clients
Being too pushy never works so don’t do it. I honestly don’t mind having the beach vendors trying to sell me their goods, because that is simply their culture and I respect them working their butts off walking in the deep sand and hot elements all day but – some of them crossed the line.
For example, when we tell you we aren’t interested in buying your fresh mangos, don’t ask us every 10 minutes, the answer is still no! Same thing for you “Mr. iguana” peddler, I still don’t need a photo with your iguana, but thanks anyway.
So the lesson leaned is, listen to your clients and let them guide you to if they are your ideal client or not and if they aren’t – let them go. Don’t chase clients that aren’t your ideal clients and certainly don’t ever be a pest or too pushy.
Pricing Your Photography
The pricing game is an art with a lot of nuances. I personally find it fascinating as there is so much psychology and strategy required for an effective pricing model that works for you and your business. Especially in today’s extremely competitive environment.
I’d love to teach you more on the topic of pricing and share with you some of my tips and tricks I’ve learned through the years so that you too can increase your profits and bookings.
If you are ready to learn more, check out my pricing handbook right here. For less than the price of a footlong sandwich or beach vendor henna tattoo you can take control of your pricing and use my own templates for your business!