In case you missed the first installment of this series on talking with your photography clients about pricing, I suggest you read it now. Go ahead, we will wait right here!
The second important point of contact for a new client is the inquiry phone call. Not only is the prospective client feeling you out to see if you are the right photographer for them, but you should also be determining if this client is the right client for your business. There is nothing wrong with referring people to other photographers if they are not a fit for your business. I don’t just mean that someone is contacting you for senior photography when you only shoot pets. This would also include someone calling that is looking for one digital file for a Christmas card. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be offering that, all I’m saying is that if your standard offering is a $200 session fee with 40 images shown and clients typically purchasing collections, that client may not be the right fit for your business. They may actually have a negative experience with you if they truly only want one image and you show them 40 awesome-sauce images that makes them want them all when they cannot afford them. Neither one of you want to be in that position.
Generally one of the first things that a client will ask is, “How much are your 8×10’s or do you offer digital files?”. This is because that is all they know to ask. The initial inquiry phone call is where you really start to build the value of a custom photography session. Ask the client about their pet? Ask them where they will be displaying the images in their home. From there you can explain your signature products and what makes you different from the other photographers in your market.
Now to wrap this series up, I want to finally answer the original question. When do you share your pricing with clients? I am a firm believer in giving my clients pricing information as early as possible as I can think of nothing more uncomfortable then sitting in an ordering session with someone that has no idea that a wall piece, album and some prints are going to add up to well over 4 digits. If you haven’t made your clients aware of your pricing prior to the session premier then it’s going to be much more difficult for you to be confident and firm in your pricing. However, if your client is familiar with your pricing you can confidently be a “portrait consultant” and not a sales person. You can easily fill the role of designer and offer suggestions without worrying about how they are going to react to the price.
If your client sees your price list for the first time at their ordering appointment, or even at or after the session, this could quickly become a negative customer service situation. Imagine how you would feel if you went to an incredible new restaurant that you heard raves about. You experience a wonderful greeting and enjoy a fancy chocolate martini (yum) at the bar before be escorted to your fabulously quiet and private table. The meal just keeps getting better, appetizers, the main course, and even a tray of dessert samplings. What a great night….until the check comes. You figured that you would be spending about $60 a person on this dinner…..but it was $250 a person or $500 for your night out!
Even if your client had an exceptional experience during the process; if they are negatively surprised by pricing at the end it will result in client dissatisfaction.
I hope that this helps you determine ways to lead your client’s through the process that helps prepare them for the sale. What other pricing and sales questions do you have? Ask them on the Hair of the Dog Facebook page or leave them in the comments section and I may just write a post on it!