I hear it all the time from photographers. (I imagine this is the same across all creative industries, really.) “Why, why, WHY do my clients ask me about price first before anything else? Don’t they know I want them to connect with me? I want them to tell me all about their (wedding, family, portrait session, whatever they are inquiring about)? How DARE they just email me and ask me for my pricing?!???”
I’ve even heard people say that if that is all that an inquiry asks about – the dreaded “What are your prices for your photography? Thanks!” email – they don’t even respond to them.
Seriously?! Because guess what?
More importantly, the potential client has probably never shopped for what you’re offering. They don’t know what else to ask about. They don’t know you want them to tell you more about what they are looking for – unless you ask for it. Even then, they don’t really know what to tell you.
Instead, they do what we ALL do. They go straight to looking at the price.
Last weekend, we bought my husband a new car. This is pretty much how it went – in a matter of about 30 seconds or less.
– Oh! I like how this one looks. I like this color.
– Look at the list of features! It has the navigation system I wanted.
– And then? … We looked at the price! Matter of fact, sometimes we looked at the price even before we looked at the features!
If we liked the price, if we felt it was reasonable for what the car offered, we took the car for a test drive. If we didn’t like the price, if it was maybe at the top end of our budget, but it wasn’t very comfortable when we sat in it, we didn’t drive it. We just moved on. Price helped us make that decision.
(In case you’re wondering, he bought a black 2012 Civic SI, which had all of the features he wanted, and was the perfect price.)
Any time I shop for any item, whether it costs $2.00 or $20,000 – the very FIRST thing I want to know is the price. I bet if you stop and think about it, you are the same way. Once you know the price, you instantly either sulk and walk away because it is too much and more than you want to pay, you make the decision to buy it immediately, or you start rationalizing what you are going to do to make that price work for you. (Me? I actually considered for 24 hours trading in my Mini Cooper for a lower priced car so that the payments for his Civic would balance out in our budget. Then I test drove some and realized that I was being CRAZY! I love my Mini!!!)
Your creative services are not a commodity. If you are competing on price, you’re missing a lot of opportunities to take your business to a whole new level. That said, people always want to know the price. They want to know if they can even come close to affording you before they fall in love with you.
Don’t hate clients for asking for it. Tell them your price. Enough with the game of “I’ll share them with you when you come in” too — in this day of immediate gratification and being able to do anything online at any time of day or night, telling me that I can’t have the information I want is annoying. The only justification for that is if you truly create every single collection from scratch for every client.
At they very least, post a starting at price on your site, and better yet post a range of what most clients spend. You’re not a used car dealer, so don’t lure me in with the $1000 option, when I really have to spend $10,000 to get what I want.
PS – Worried that they are another photographer just “price shopping” you? So what? You’re not competing on price, so that doesn’t matter anyways!