Slash prices to build network?

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by DGMPhotography, Sep 21, 2018.

  1. DGMPhotography

    DGMPhotography Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Okay, so... I thought I was past being "cheap," but I've been struggling to land gigs the last couple of months and had to pick up a part time job at a bank to make ends meet.

    I know I can probably market better, an I really need to develop my word of mouth. I am considering running some promotions with lower rates to try to get more people in the door and expand my network.

    I know my work is worth a certain amount, but I think I need to humble myself and take a few steps back and build myself up some more.

    Of course, I will try to adjust my packages to reflect the lower prices. For instance, head shots are normally $150 and include 2 outfits and 3 retouched photos. But I'm thinking of doing a "Quick and Easy" session for $50 which includes 1 outfit and 1 photo, but focus moreso on the value of "quick and easy" than the price, but still have the price bring people in. That way I can keep my premium packages as well, and not totally backpedal, but still open up more options to get my name out there. I would do similar things with "geek weddings" I had mentioned in another thread where I take half off my normal wedding package and advertise it moreso as a portfolio building opportunity that clients get the benefit from, and still keep my regular packages as well.

    Thoughts?


     
  2. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I would say if you do anything, raise your prices. There's a story told by Martha Stuart about selling pies when she was first starting... she was selling at something like a farmer's market or stand, something relatively small-time and asking a couple of dollars each for her pies. They weren't moving at all. She bumped her prices by several hundred percent and they flew off the shelves... it's all about perceived value and your target client base.

    What you need to do is decide on your target client, make sure your CODB numbers work, and then do some market research to figure out what the people in your target market are willing to pay and price accordingly.
     
  3. JoeW

    JoeW Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    All paying customers are NOT created equal. You want people who provide referrals. The cheaper you go, the more likely you are to get people who make decisions by price. You want clients who are likely to have a lot of friends who would typically pay for portrait settings. Competing on price will NOT get you that.

    If you need to drum up business, I suggest you do one of three things:

    --Either look to upgrade your portfolio. Maybe instead of cutting prices, hire a professional model or two for short shoots (2 hours a piece) to then generate some really distinctive and outstanding results to upgrade your portfolio and have viewers going "Wow--look how great he made her/him look."

    --Look to be more visible in a specific niche. Maternity photos? Shoot some moms nursing infants--every pregnant mom-to-be will see that and go "I want photos of me and my baby like that!" Or prepare for Christmas and family photos with a couple of sets of very distinctive portraits that families might use for Christmas cards or family letters--but you shoot that now (to plant the thought in their head).

    --Volunteer your professional services in a way that might get you more exposure and good will but it would be free. Shoot portraits of dogs at an animal shelter. Find a local civic group you really admire and say you'd like to donate your portrait services pro-bono so you take pictures of all of their senior managers. Think of this as doing work "pro bono" but you gain exposure and possibly individual clients who like the work you did for their group. And because it's pro bono (you're donating to the civic or nonprofit group) it's not seen as you discounting work--you're "donating" your work for the good of the cause.

    One last thought on the idea of competing on price: every photographer I know who does this has a business, regardless of what they charge, has had clients come in and say "what about if you give me a break on price b/c of yada, yada, yada?" Or "we'll pay half the fee but you will get valuable exposure and two free drinks at the bar." If you go low, you will still get hit on by people seeking lower prices. Or who think that $50 should be fine for all of your work.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2018
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  4. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    A local mediocre photographer, did a dinosaur shoot for kids. She shot them on a sit on dinosaur in front of a blue screen. $50 for a 15 min session, got you 8x10, 5x7, and some wallets. Ran it for 3 days and was booked solid. Mininimal editing, minimal time. Plop the kid on the toy, snap the shot, next do the same. She collected 50% deposit, balance on delivery, so there was no out of pocket expense. My first thought was how cheesy, till I realized how much she raked in.

    Regardless your business the principals are the same. You have to constantly be thinking of ways to market your product/service.
     
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  5. jcdeboever

    jcdeboever TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    I am definitely not an advocate for selling on price, someone out there will do it for less. As a professional salesperson, I sell quality and service because I have to, I am the most expensive in my market. I overcome the price objection by simply sticking to it. I have the majority market share. I also know my competitors
    weaknesses and focus on that. Our market strategy is to provide the best quality and service and it is well known, we are superior. Most people in my business are willing to pay more as long as they get a high end finish and reliable, consistent service.

    I know a couple people that are successful in the photography business but they are highly specialized and focus on what they do best. They get what they ask for but have built up a high end reputation over the years. I think the photography business is volatile and you may have to do what you have to do if your not specialized.
     
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  6. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    parent with kids dont have money to spend. that's why you gotta work for pennies. plus shooting kids is a f'ing nightmare.

    if you wanna shoot 15min sessions at stupid dinosaur parties with snotty kids and get cookie-cutter subpar images to make a buck, then do that.

    my suggestion is to find clients with money. (e.g. parents about to send kid(s) off to college and want a last good shoot with the family together)


    I'm so glad I quit art school, and transferred to a different program and was required to take econ 101 and marketing 101.
     
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  7. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Gee, you mean I shouldn't have hauled all those cheap, crappy loads on our trucks over the years, in order to re position equipment to the good paying freight???? Transportation and photography are a lot alike. If I didn't make money on a truck today, that opportunity was gone forever, because I couldn't haul two loads tomorrow to make up for it. A photographer is selling his time, if he doesn't make money today, that time is also forever lost. Granted sometimes it's better to take a loss today, then to tie yourself to something that will make you lose out on something better, but for short term, generating cash isn't a bad idea. Even my limited math skills, calculates 15 mins for $50 equals $200 an hour. Over the course of 3 days that's $4-$5K depending on how many hours a day she did it. That would pay for a lot of wet wipes, and still pay the bills while you're waiting for the better job.
     
  8. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Gonna agree and disagree... You need to make money where you can, and money/time lost is gone for good, however, a trucker grabbing cheap, 'whatever you can find' backhaul to cover fuel costs is NOT the same as a photographer running cheap mini sessions. For one, the rate for the load is the rate for the load, you can take it or not, and grabbing a pin with something is an established practice in the trucking industry; you're not going to get a reputation is a 'low baller' because everyone does it and your regular rates remain unchanged. A creative on the other hand has to be very careful with the prices he/she offers because people will very quickly assume that those are the prices, and once you've lowered your set prices, it's hard to bring them up again.

    The other, IMO, bigger consideration is 'what type of client do you want to attract'. I'm fortunate - through my Veterans work and such, I've more-or-less fallen into a client base which is about 1/3 commercial and 2/3 retail, almost exclusively of the 50+ crowd. VERY rarely does anyone ask me up-front about costs, other than for big all-day/multi-day events. If I were to try and supplement the slow times by setting up my shingle in the local park and doing $50 mini-sessions, yes, I'd likely put a bunch of cash in my pocket, BUT... I would greatly devalue my brand and quickly become lost amongst all the other "I just got a camera and now I'm a professional... what insurance?" crowd.
     
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  9. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Can I also agree and disagree LOL I understand what you're saying BUT I'm not sure that doing something in a completely different market would affect the price in the existing market. Kind of like a photographer who goes out and does real estate photography for $75 a pop, would that really have a bearing on his Senior Portrait market??? Unlike the OP post where he was considering cutting prices in a prime market. I could see that having a bearing on every head shot forward. Oh and FYI with deregulation in transportation came the non asset based brokers entering the market, "everything" became a backhaul in the eyes of shippers. Much like the "I just got a camera and now I'm a professional... what insurance?" crowd" you mentioned. Took many years and a lot of companies going out of business for that mentality to change.
     
  10. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    Anyone and their uncle can do something 'cheap'. And everybody and their uncle will. So is that your target market? If so, drop your prices and learn to struggle to make money.

    Or, target customers who are willing to pay for quality work, provide it for them and work less for more money.
     
  11. adamhiram

    adamhiram No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I would definitely recommend against it - competing on price, especially in an already saturated market, is just a race to the bottom. In my local neighborhood Facebook group, someone asks for family portrait recommendations just about every week. At first I saw experienced professionals offering their services for $300-600, depending on the length and location of the session. Some were willing to come out for $200. Then it was $100, then $50 mini-sessions. Now I see 20+ people competing for $25 mini-sessions on every post. In the meantime, the original people charging $300-600 are doing just fine. The family photographer we use is on the high end of that range, is able to raise prices every year, and is still booked up months in advance.
     
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  12. Vtec44

    Vtec44 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Then the question your potential clients will have: why would they pay you full price when you're willing to work for cheaper?
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2018
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