The first group of prospects are those who will immediately decide they can’t afford you when they see your prices. This is a relatively small percentage of prospects and they truly do not have the means to pay your price. For illustrative purposes, we’ll put them at one end of the scale. You must forget about these people because they can’t pay enough and you can’t serve enough of them to maximize your revenue and income.
The next group is a much larger percentage of prospects who disqualify themselves because they would rather not pay your price. Many of them would be willing to pay a bit extra if they were convinced you were able to fulfill their emotional needs, as described above. When a parent is first sold on your ability to help her obtain the photos of her children to strengthen an emotional bond, she is more likely to pay a higher price, even if she must sacrifice some other part of her budget. By leading with price in your selling/marketing process, this potential segment of the market, and the large source of revenue it can generate, is essentially lost to you. It’s an unfortunate result of making this common mistake.
The third group is very small. These are prospects who see your price and immediately decide they can afford it. That may seem wonderful, since you didn’t have to do much work to attract these prospects. Of course, the error of your thinking is that it’s a small percentage of the potential and you could never make an adequate living from just these prospects’ business. In reality, they can afford to pay more, especially if, once again, you first proved that you could fulfill the emotional reason they are shopping for photography services.
The fourth group, which is also significant, is the actual target audience you should be pursuing and acquiring. These people are affluent clientele. They have money to pay top dollar for photography, but, again, they are also looking for the same emotional fulfillment as any other prospects, regardless of the size of their bank accounts. If you try to sell them with price first, they will disqualify you, not them, because they will categorize you as a photographer who can’t possibly deliver what they want because your prices are too low. From their perspective of affluence, their logic is: if you could, then you would be charging a much higher price.
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Like many professional photographers, one of the most common mistakes you probably make is to sell your services according to price. Yes, your clients must pay the price you charge for your work, but price should never be the starting point of your selling/marketing process, and should never be used as a competitive comparison.
Most people, and even hard-minded editors, select a photographer for more important reasons than price. When you prove you understand those reasons and are able to fulfill your clients’ needs and desires, many, if not most, will be willing to pay virtually any price you charge because you delivered what they wanted.
When you sell and market your professional services according to price, you are defining in very specific terms the level of service you provide, thus limiting your true revenue potential. When prospective clients see prices on your Website, or provided to them by other means, early in the selling/marketing process, they are able to qualify themselves as to whether they should hire you. You will be pigeonholed; the marketplace will define you according to your prices and you will only attract those people who will pay it.
You MUST retain control of the prospect qualifying process! Price is very low on the list of information you should ever use to sell and market your services; in fact, in some cases, your prices are virtually immaterial…if you sell yourself correctly. To develop a proven and successful selling/marketing process, you must remind yourself that prospects may seem as if they are buying a commodity, a photograph, but what they are actually buying (although they don’t always know it clearly) is emotional satisfaction.
A parent wants portraits of his or her children because whenever those pictures are viewed, the parent feels the emotional bond between himself or herself and the children. The photo editor of a publication or some kind of Web-based business needs photography to connect emotionally with readers and customers. Yes, the editor’s motive is to generate revenues by attracting people with your photos, but your photos successfully do the job because viewers have an emotional experience/response when they see your images. The photographer who can successfully fulfill prospects’ emotional needs is able to charge a higher price…and without revealing it until almost the end of the selling/marketing process…and more clients will pay it than you may think.
When you make the mistake of selling with price, you cause the universe of prospects to define themselves in one of the four ways.
You have much more of an opportunity to attract a much larger share of the potential market when the entire selling/marketing process focuses on your ability to fulfill customers’ emotional reasons for photography. Price should never be mentioned until prospects are first sold at the emotional level.
As a companion to this article, PhotographyTalk strongly encourages that you read . It will explain in more detail how to use the knowledge in this article to maximize the number of prospects converted to paying customers.
Image credit: djedzura / 123RF Stock Photo
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