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Photographer’s Guide To Awkward Encounters: “You’re Too Expensive!”

December 21, 2020

“You’re too Expensive!” Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard these 3 dreaded words. Ugh! This is the business equivalent to someone saying to me, “You’re so short!” I mean, it’s not an insult or a compliment, but it is awkward. Maybe you haven’t heard the exact words, “you’re too expensive!” But we’ve all heard it in one form or another:

  • “You’re out of our price range!”
  • “We’ve decided to go with someone a little more in our budget.”
  • “Do you offer any discounts?”
  • “Do you do mini sessions?”
  • “So-and-so will do a session for this price, can you match theirs?”
  • “What if I want less time/images? Can I pay less?”

Oy! With the poodles already! #gilmoregirlsreference

“You’re too expensive” or one of its HORRIBLE synonyms can be difficult for photographers to hear. When our businesses are based on ourselves (personal branding) then it makes rejection feel personal. Which can then lead to a downward spiral of negative thoughts and self-doubt.

But before you go cry in a corner and quit for good, let me tell you that what’s going on isn’t actually about you as a person or your skills as a photographer.

In fact, when one of the photography students I coach shares something similar, my brain immediately examines these 3 things:

1.) Their Marketing

2.) Client Journey

3.) Packages, Pricing, and Presentation

Because truthfully, there’s a lot of reasons why someone may say “You’re too Expensive!” and it’s rarely because of your price.

You're too Expensive Photographer Client

Their Marketing

“An unexamined life is not worth living!” says Socrates. Well… I’m gonna say it’s the same thing for your business. You’re not going to like this one but the first thing I want you to do is look inward. The truth is… price is a reflection of value. So, if someone is struggling with your price, that means they don’t really think you’re worth it.

BUT DON’T FALL INTO THAT SELF-DOUBT SPIRAL JUST YET…

It doesn’t mean you’re not worth it. It could mean that you aren’t communicating your worth effectively in your marketing.

This is a common mistake among ALL small business owners, not just photographers. Make sure you are marketing in a way that connects with them on a level deeper than just, “you have pretty photos!” Loyal Clients who are willing to pay high prices don’t manifest themselves… they are created through effective marketing.

Client Journey

Every single client has a journey that moves them from cold to warm to hot.

More often than not, when a client first discovers our brand, likes our photos and then immediately inquire, they will not be ready to book! Often responding with something along the lines of, “You’re too Expensive!” An example of a “cold client” might be someone who finds you on google through the SEO you’ve done for your website!

Naturally, they have no personal connection with you, nor do they know why you are different and unique and “more valuable” than every other photographer in your area with decent photos and cheaper prices.

When a cold client inquires and doesn’t like my prices I generally…

Kindly Refer

Defending your prices to those who haven’t followed your brand on social media and probably didn’t even read your “about me” page is a waste of time. Anything you send them is going to sound needy.

For example, this would be like someone passing you on the street, telling you that you are beautiful and then immediately proposing. More than likely, you would say no. Marketing is like dating. One must have consistent “dates” with someone in order to develop connection and trust.

Therefore, I generally respond with something like, “No problem! I totally understand budgets! 🙂 I recommend following me on Instagram/joining my email list to be the first to find out about sales and mini sessions!” Then give them the links for doing so.

The reason I refer them to my social media is so that I can continue to nurture them and they won’t be a “total loss.”

If it is a wedding then I will send the same message but end it with something like “But for now, I definitely recommend checking out _____________________. They have good photos and might be more in your budget!” Reason being, they will have to hire a wedding photographer no matter what, and I believe that my kindness and generosity will be remembered.

Kindly Accept

Ok, I’m going to tell you something that not many six-figure photographers will say. You DO need to actually evaluate whether or not you need their business. The fact of the matter is, there are jobs we do because they are ideal clients and their project is everything we’ve ever dreamed of. But there are also clients we serve because we need the money.

If you aren’t meeting your booking goals, it’s the middle of dead season and you have a family to provide for, or the date they need you for is really soon and you know you won’t book anything else on that day anyway… then do the dang thing! Don’t cut down on how much you make but how much you give.

For example, let’s say my normal sessions are $500 for 2 hrs and 60 photos. Maybe I’ll tell them I could do a session for $250 for 1 hr and 30 photos. After all, some business is better than no business and some money is better than no money!

If it is something you don’t need because you are happy with where you are in bookings and income then see the above point.

Pricing, Packaging, and Presentation

We talk a lot about how to price our packages when it comes to photography but have we talked about presentation?

I talk more about this in my More than Marketing Course, however, here I just would like to point out a few tips!

First, your pricing should be based on an hourly-based, package-based, or value-based pricing model. It should consider your geographic location, your skill and your current business costs and income needs.

There is so much that goes into pricing but you also need to ensure that your packages are simple. I generally use the example of an all-inclusive vacation. You always feel like you’re getting the best deal because while you’re there you don’t have to pay for food or drinks. But really, you probably overpaid because all of those things were taken into account up front.

Another tip is to make sure your packages are presented in the best way possible. For example, did you know statistically people will spend more money when three packages are listed verses two packages. And the most effective place to put client reviews is wherever your prices are shown!

Tips for Avoiding this Awkward Encounter

  • Always put client referrals or testimonials where your prices are shown!
  • Show up consistently in your marketing and show up the right way!
  • Learn to speak the language of your ideal client so they feel “Yes! It’s like you’re talking about me!” All purchases are emotional and feeling understood and heard is a huge emotional motivator!
  • Don’t just talk about features of your packages but talk about benefits! What does your client get? The answer has to be MORE than photos, memories or “moments frozen in time!” How do you solve your customer’s day to day problems?
  • Reduce Risk: is it possible to offer a money back guarantee? Some personalities are extra fearful and that might be a feature of your ideal client. If it is, considering off a 100% satisfaction guarantee to your offers.

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