Intro by Skip Cohen
It’s time to welcome a new contributor to the Marathon Blog. Meet Nicole Begley. Although there’s nothing, Nicole can’t photograph, her passion is pet photography, especially dogs. She’s also got a terrific sense of business as both an educator and business owner.
In wandering through the archives of her blog, “Hair of the Dog,” I loved this gem I stumbled upon. We’re halfway through the first quarter of the year, and so many of you are trying to figure out your pricing for 2018. You’ll struggle until the last minute, worrying about taking your prices too high, then you’ll go the other way and think about bringing them in too low.
So, I want to add something to Nicole’s post this week. It’s important to remember that not everybody is your target customer! While I know Nicole’s post is about pet photography, the pricing challenge applies to every specialty.
Take your time thinking through your pricing strategy. You didn’t become a photographer to be philanthropic, and it’s appropriate to be in business to be profitable. Nicole shares some wise advice, especially with her comment about not getting discouraged.
By Nicole Begley
If you have been reading this blog for any length of time you may have come to realize I believe in a boutique business model. This is a low volume and higher priced strategy as opposed to a high volume and lower cost model. If you are priced appropriately you WILL hear that you are too expensive or out of a potential client’s price range often. Actually, if you are never hearing that you are too expensive, then you are most likely not priced sustainably.
It’s important to not get discouraged, this is simply the first step to converting this prospect to a client. The silver lining in this situation is, they had an interest in your work and were most likely never expecting professional photography to cost what it does. That’s ok, after all, professional pet photography is a luxury item. It is a want, not a need. Our job is to take that want and turn it into an emotional need.
The first step in converting this prospect to a client is to keep in touch with them! If you do not have an e-marketing service set up, drop everything and do that. It is FREE up to 2,500 contacts, so there is no excuse! If a potential client responds to me with the “thank you but this is out of our budget” email I will reply with a “Thank you for getting back to me. I would be happy to add you to my email list so that you can be among the first to hear of special offers and occasional mini-sessions.” Pretty much everyone replies with a “Yes! Thank you!”.
The second step is to stay on top of these client’s minds with monthly to quarterly newsletters delivered to their inbox. Create an interesting newsletter by highlighting a past client, offering tips for photographing their own pets, including summer tips for dog owners in your city, etc. Always include some gorgeous imagery as well. This is a subtle way to start moving that want into the need camp….but please don’t call it a spring newsletter if you want lots of people to open it.
Lastly, just because we are a boutique business does not mean that we can’t offer lower priced alternatives to our full sessions. The key to doing this profitably is to make sure the lower priced alternatives do not compete directly with your full sessions. This is one reason I LOVE my yearly Food for Fido event. It is a great pull through for all of those clients that want to book a session but cannot make the investment into a full session. The session fee is only $35 and special collections start at only $99. If the potential client can pay their rent and put food on the table then they can afford to do this.
It is absolutely imperative your workflow is down to a science for these sessions to be profitable. After all, time is money. Clients fill out their session agreement as part of the registration form, they pay their invoice securely online and then it’s automatically entered into my accounting books, they are encouraged to pre-purchase a collection on the day of the event by receiving a special gift, they choose their final images in an online gallery, and I send out their products via the mail. These sessions are for pets only and result in less than 10 final images to choose from. It’s just a taste of a Nicole Begley Photography experience, but it gives those clients the opportunity to see what this custom photography thing is about.
The icing on the cake is that if you can also raise a nice chunk of change for the shelter or charity you are working with. This past weekend’s Food for Fido event raised $700 for one of the local shelters and I collected hundreds of pounds of food for them. That’s a win-win if you ask me!