1. An amount, as of goods, services, or money, considered to be a fair and suitable equivalent for something else; a fair price or return.
2. Worth in usefulness or importance to the possessor; utility or merit:
1. Recognition and interpretation of sensory stimuli based chiefly on memory.
2. The neurological processes by which such recognition and interpretation are effected.
How many of us actually consider value and perception when we consider our pricing?
The mere definition of value tells me that I have the ability to change what my clients “consider” to be fair and suitable. Perception tells me I have the ability to change my clients views based on how I emotionally (the experience) and physically (the products) connect with my client.
My clients have no problem spending $1000, $2000, and upwards of $5,000 with my studio because I have educated them that is acceptable to do so.
This year our studio will be stepping away from what I call petty prints. Petty prints to me are all prints 11×14 and smaller. Petty being defined as, of small importance; trivial. I want my clients to perceive these options as of little importance and focus on higher value, fine art products.
How do we do this?
First, we have to discuss it openly. We are not going to discuss how we are dropping petty prints. We are going to discuss how we are a studio for discriminating clients. We want to show that we place our value on heirloom products.
Heirloom, yes another trigger word meaning: A valued possession passed down in a family through succeeding generations.
Our studio is offering you a product to pass down to your succeeding generations. We want to photograph those products and place those images on our website, blog and social media outlets. Remember what every successful photographer has told us? If you want to sell it then you must show it.
Now we lay the stepping stones for our clients to begin to think bigger and outside of the 8×10 box that consumer studios have placed us in.
When a client walks in to my studio they will not be underwhelmed by petty prints, instead they will be overwhelmed with large wall portraits, luxury frames and fine art signature collections. We yet again arrive at another key word, signature collections.
Signature collections allow my clients to perceive higher value because the artist has hand signed each piece. Fine art tells my client the precise definition: Art produced or intended primarily for beauty rather than utility.
I love that last word, utility. I do not want to offer utility products. I need utility products for basic needs and so do my clients. My target market is not coming to my studio for basic needs and utility products, they come for perceived value of limited availability, fine art and heirloom products.
I want to discuss utility again. The industry today is over saturated with utility photographers, photographers who cover the basic needs of the client through photography and digital files. My goal this year was to provide clear separation between myself, a boutique studio and my competition the utility photographers.
How do I compete? How do I market? The industry has told us for years to not offer digital files but I arrived at this question, “are my archives making me money?” The short answer was no. I also knew as a photographer it was important to me, as a client to have my digital files.
What was I to do? How did I clearly separate myself from the utility photographers and yet give my clients the security of the digital files they want?
The first step in answering that question was turning to my lab. What did my lab offer to my studio to make us a success? This year I turned to Black River Imaging’s Folio Collections.
The folio collections are the backbone of my Signature and Literary Collections. Folio collections are not petty and they are not inexpensive, even at our cost, this made it a perfect fit for clients. I decided to bundle these collections with digital files. GASP, yes I sell digital files. It is the change in technology that our industry is facing and it is one that I will embrace for the future of my business.
By selling digital files bundled with the folio collection line, I can increase the price of my collections. For instance, our entry level Signature collection is $600 and include your folio box and five prints, inside the box is a dvd tray with the high resolution files of those five prints. When they receive their product they also have a high quality professional folio print.
Everyone’s question is what if your client chooses to print those images at a consumer lab?
My answer is, what business of it is mine. I have offered my client a professional print, they do have a reproduction release to print all of the files on the disc up to an 8×10 at any lab they wish. The game changer is my partnership with ShootProof.
When my clients purchase a signature collection they automatically get an a mobile app for sharing and an online shopping cart with the files online from their folio order. These prints are priced at $10 each. Absurd right?
Here is what offering $10 prints does for my business. By offering low cost prints I have taken the sting out of utility photographers offering similar $10 prints. I have the ability to guarantee that print to my client because it is fulfilled through my professional lab, Black River Imaging. My clients, can log on and order all the petty prints they wish and they have my studio guarantee stating I will replace the print if something is wrong. Printing through another lab presents a decision to my client to choose not to guarantee their investment. When my clients invest their money in my product I am convinced they know the value of that guaranteed print because we have educated them. I never have to touch the sale of a petty print again and my clients have the ability to share that product with family who can then order for themselves. Families love the idea of relatives choosing their prints on their own and the knowledge that they do not have to make their own purchase for Uncle Bob.
Why would a client choose a signature collection over a standard print collections?
A la carte petty prints at our studio start at $65. With the purchase of a signature collection that cost goes to $10. I make my money up front. I get the averages I want and then I bless my clients with savings because they invested in fine art, heirloom products.
In addition, every product that leaves my studio is a showpiece, high value product. They won’t be waving petty prints to their friends they will carefully handle and care for treasured pieces. They will do my work for me by protecting their investment, therefor influencing the perception of our studio and products to all of their friends. I am not sure about you but when I handle my worthy investments, I take care in where I place them, how I display them and my guests notice that I have something special, something of value.
The sale does not end there. We do not offer every image in a folio collection. That means there are upwards of 30 files left on the table that clients do not want to walk away from. Our Identity Albums meet that need. In the Black River Imaging software, Cascade, these are custom magazines, and I include every image from the client’s session in this album.
The cost to my client is $295 and if they purchase one they can take advantage of an additional copy for $99 because my design time is already finished, I can offer a discount. What about wall portraits, custom frames and gallery wrap canvas. Our clients have already been educated that petty prints are utility and of small importance. Our reproduction release states that our client may reproduce images on photographic paper sized no larger than 8×10. This gives our studio control of their gallery wall pieces and they have many options to choose from.
By making these changes we have redesigned our studio to focus on custom installations and products. We have taken the ball out of the utility photographer’s court and have changed the perception of our clients by placing value on high end products and services.
I want to leave you with a clear definition of our Signature Collection and our Literary Collection. Our signature collection is hand signed by myself the artist on the back of each folio print. Our Literary Collection comes with a quote on the back of each folio print. These are designed to encourage and speak to our clients. The inspiration came from my own daughter who with every Instagram selfie post, she included a quote of motivation, strength or beauty. After doing some client research I found that to be a popular sentiment of both my male and female high school senior clients but also my families. They attribute the beauty of that quote to their own families and to the individual self as well.
How are you changing your clients perception?
Amanda Reed is the owner of Amanda Reed Photography located in Southern West Virginia.
Want to catch more of Amanda?
Please join her on March 5 for her WPPI master class, All UP in Your Business: Writing Your Master Plan and receive $75 off a Full Conference Pass. We hope you can join her—We’ve got a special code just for you!