If you insist on selling based on price your customers will buy because of price

Keep your A La Carte Pricing High. This will create value for your packages, bundles, or collections. We will talk about how to build packages a little later on, but putting a group of products together for your clients to purchase is a good thing. After all, the more decisions you ask your clients to make during the sales process, the more difficult it will be at the end when it comes time for the most important decision: how much to spend. The easier you can make it on your client, the higher your sales averages will be and the happier they will be.

Feature a "Most Popular" and a "Best Value" Collection. The reason for this is very simple. Human nature says that people like to belong to a group and feel safe when we know that others are doing the same thing as us. Even if you don't have a most popular package, make one up. Before long, it will become your most popular simply via the power of suggestion. Obviously, the package with the highest price will also be the one that has the best value because of all the savings that have been built in. Make sure to point out this fact right on your price list. If they believe in it, they will buy it!

How do you determine which package should be your "most popular?" Here's a cool little technique. Once you have determined what your averages are for each type of client—wedding, family, children, senior—your most popular package should be at a level that is higher than your average. For example, you have an average of $410 on your children's portraits. I would recommend having your "most popular" package at $499-$599. Then, everything you do should be with that package in mind. This will bring your averages up by nearly 20 percent and will give your client a great value at the same time. If your averages are higher or lower than this, you will have to adjust accordingly, but I think you understand the concept.

Have a Whopper Package on Every Price List. What is a "whopper package" you ask? It's something that appears to be so incredibly expensive that nobody in their right mind would ever invest in it. It's a package that has everything, including the kitchen sink. The purpose of a whopper? To make the other packages look and feel better. It's there only to create value for the other packages. A little later on there will be an exercise that will help you generate some ideas on what you could include in a whopper package.

Discount Your Session Fees, Never Your Prices.

When you discount your print prices, you lower the perceived value of your work, which can have a long term effect on your ability to charge what you are worth. Photographers have, for a long time, used their session fees as a tool to get more clients in the door, and to keep current clients coming back more often. Giving something away for free is always better than giving someone a discount. Add value, but don't discount.

Close the Gap with Your Pricing. There is no way that a 5x7 should be half the price of an 8x10, or a 4x5 half the price of a 5x7. You spend the exact same amount of time and resources on the smaller print sizes. In fact, the only difference is that they get printed on a smaller piece of paper, which is the least expensive part of the entire process. Your pricing for your 4x5s, 5x7s, and 8x10s should be fairly close together, if not exactly the same. It's very easy to tell a customer that your price for a gift portrait is X, and they can select any size that meets their specific needs. Regardless of whether that need requires an 8x10, a 5x7, or a 4x5.

Sarah Petty's price list is simple and beautifully designed.

Eliminate the Second Print Discounts. I have seen many studios that offer discounted pricing if a client orders more than one of the same image. Don't do this— that's what offering packages is for! If they want to save some money on their portrait package, show them the value that each of your packages offers, but don't offer to discount your a la carte prices. It will only cheapen your pricing integrity.

Pricing Strategies

When I go to one of the big retail malls in my area, there are a few stores that I love to visit. One is Bath and Body Works, because it seems they always have some incredible deals on their products—and the deal is always the same. For many years, it was buy three get one free. Even if you planned on only purchasing a single item when you went in, you rarely could get out of there without stepping up and buying two more so you could get the fourth at no charge. In fact, 84 percent of all shoppers at Bath and Body Works end up purchasing three to get one free. Isn't that incredible? The last time I was in there, the deal had been changed to a buy two, get one free—and I bet this strategy will be even more successful!

Victoria's Secret is another store that does an incredible job of packaging and bundling. A couple of years ago, I took one of my workshop classes to the mall so they could see how the big boys do things, and we stood there and witnessed a magical moment. A woman had taken one pair of panties up to the cash register to purchase. There, she was greeted by a friendly sales associate who enthusiastically supported the lady's choice of style and color. She then said the following, "If you purchase one pair, they are $7, or you can get five pairs for only $5 each." They lady almost jumped out of her dress as she quickly rushed to select four more pairs so she could get them for only $5 each. When she was ready to check out, the sales associate then said, "If you would like to open a Victoria's Secret charge account today, I can give you 90 days to make your first payment, no interest for a year, plus give you a $25 gift card. Are you interested in signing up today?" Well by now, the lady thought she had won the lottery and happily filled out the application, received her $25 gift card, and went back into the aisles to pick up several other items. By the time she was done, she had spent over $200 and walked out as happy as a spring chicken. She had originally planned on spending $7.

There are also companies like Amazon.com that will pay freight when you order $25 worth of books. And guess what? Most books are less than $25, which means you need to buy a second book in order to get the free freight—which is exactly that the majority of people will do. The same things happens when you are in the airport terminal and want to buy a pair of sunglasses. You can buy one pair for $12, or two pairs for $20. It works, or they wouldn't do it!

It just goes to show, you can make people buy what you want them to buy if you can make the alternative unattractive! This, my friend, is exactly why you should offer

A percent-off discount for booking by a certain date can motivate customers to pick up the phone.

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packages in addition to your a la carte images. This is the subject of the next chapter.

Special Offers

To discount or not to discount? That is the question. When you offer some sort of special at your studio, what are the main reasons for doing so? Usually it because you want to:

1. Counteract something that one of your competitors is doing.

2. Experiment with the price of a product in order to find out where your customers' price sensitivity is.

3. Introduce a new product that you expect clients, once they experience it, will continue to want at full price.

There is a problem with this sort of mentality. If you get too focused on offering slashed prices and special offers, you can flood your customers with price-based promotions. This can eventually outweigh all the brand building you do. It can increase your customers' price sensitivity and attract price switchers, people who are not really loyal to any brand. Over time, this can reduce your loyal customer base and increase your fringe customers. What does all this mean? It means that special offers have the potential to erode brand equity, reduce customer loyalty, and cut your profits. It's a very slippery slope, and losing your footing is easy to do, unless you have an intimate understanding of the global picture.

How much of a deal should you offer? The answer depends on how much attention you want. Most offers in our industry fail to motivate customers to buy because the offer does not appear to have what is probably the most important element to having success: it must be totally irresistible!

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