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Building a Prestige Brand

Intro by Skip Cohen

People rarely buy what they need – they buy what they want.
Seth Godin

When I read this week’s “Tuesday Tidbits” post from Bev Walden, I immediately thought about the quote above from Seth Godin. It’s pretty much the definition of luxury/prestige goods and services in just about any business.

A few years back, before the pandemic, in a land far, far away (Nebraska), Bev and Tim Walden taught at Marathon’s MAP Getaway. They were remarkable. Besides the quality of the work they showed, they took everyone through the process where they place a certificate of authenticity on the back of each print. They never sell a portrait, but a family heirloom, captured and created to be handed down to future generations.

Everything they do has a prestigious touch of class. In fact, check out their website and look at the quality of the work they’re sharing. It’s unlike most of their competitors and represents some of the finest portrait work in our industry.

So, in this downtime we’re all experiencing, think through your brand awareness. It’s not just about the quality of your work but selling the experience of working with you. Then you’ve got build a reputation for always exceeding client expectations!

By Beverly Walden

Luxury and prestige are two concepts that are connected. As boutique portrait studios, we must learn these concepts and apply them in order to succeed. There is plenty of room at the bottom of the barrel. We want to be the cream on the top.

So…what do we need to know?

Creating Prestige

We must position ourselves correctly in the marketplace.

In the beginning, we determined what type of studio we wanted to be and did not compromise. We were not there yet, but we knew what we needed to do to work towards our dream studio.

Our motto was, “Work smarter, not harder.”

How? We decided to price our work at the top of the rung for this area. Every year, we updated and increased our pricing; and still do.

Pricing will position you in the marketplace. High? Low? What is your vision?

Thoughtfully create your pricing schedule.

Put your best and most expensive offerings first at the top of your page, even if you don’t expect to sell them! This uses the concept of “contrast.” In contrast to this item, everything else looks less expensive. And if you sell it here and there, even better.

 For us, as an example, we have hand-painted oil paintings (not done in Corel Painter) at the top of our pricing schedule, starting at several thousand dollars. My paintings, done in Corel Painter, come next and they start at $3,000 for the smallest size and go up from there.

This is an effective way to increase the perceived value of your offerings.

When you are working on your pricing schedule, remember the actual appearance can have subconscious effects on your potential customers. Details like ending your prices in 0’s or 5’s can justify a higher price. This type of pricing is used in high-end restaurants all the time, and you rarely see a price like “$8.99” for a meal unless you’re in a chain or franchise establishment.

Prices that end in 9 are meant to persuade consumers they’re getting a bargain, but prices consisting of round numbers (no cents, no decimals) can subliminally convince customers that your product is a luxury. In other words, it’s worth the high price.

However, charging higher rates won’t succeed unless you deliver what you promise with quality and consistency. And be sure to create an inviting environment so your clients leave with a lasting impression of luxury and sophistication.

What kills prestige?

Look inside yourself for those answers. For us, discounts, Groupons or giving our work away would kill the prestige and luxury brand that has taken us many years to build. We guard our reputation like gold. It is what has gotten us this far and will help us successfully navigate our future.

Doing what is right and creating at the highest level possible is a decision we must make every single day.