edding Photographers - Tell me if this has happened to you.
Your email dings – you open it – it’s a wedding photography lead for Aug 8 – and you’re WIDE open. And the bride’s budget? Off the hook!
You’re jazzed and can’t wait to “authorize” your studio’s portal to fire off the typical auto responders – including a link to your wedding photography pricing and a “… we’re open for Aug 8 and can’t wait to be part of your awesome day.“
And then it happens… the wait – and wait – and…
What Just Happened?
You just got played – and from what I can see, it’s the “normal protocol” for the old school wedding photographers. And I don’t have to ask you all to lower your heads and close your eyes before I ask you to raise your hands on this question. Have you ever been the one typing the pricing email request to your competitor? Sniff…
As a relative new comer to the wedding photography industry (I started full time with my wife Deb at the beginning of 2008), I’d have to say my entry was the perfect time to be baptized.
I’ve never shot anything other than digital. Film was something I tried to get off my teeth in the morning – certainly not a medium I’ve ever used to put bread on the table. But, many photogs had difficulty making that transition, and had to switch or die.
I’ve also never utilized any other medium other than the Internet and referrals to promote our wedding photography business. Never a print ad, never a mass mailing, never a seminar (especially one we charge for), and certainly never a cold call. And we’ve never paid anything other than $0 to garner our amazing couples – ever.
I’ve also never had an issue with being right up front with our offerings, coverage & print packages, or any of our prices to any bride (or for those of you still out there trolling – you) who simply fills out a form on our site.
This afternoon, I started a simple Facebook thread that went like this:
Grant Perry NOTICE: If you’re a photog and you’d like to know our studio pricing – JUST ASK. Really. The whole notion of signing up on our site as a prospective bride – choosing a date that happens to be some Saturday in the Fall and coming up with a dorky story just to trigger our automated incubator? #FAIL
The responses were interesting – but a couple really surprised me.
… and it’s simple one, When is the right time share pricing? I mean, if the dorky photog phishes for my prices by masking as a bride – and I take the professional time and effort we take with every bride and reveal it because they simply filled out the form, then what’s the difference between that and just publishing it right up front in the first place?
I’m convinced the old school of shrouding your prices, products and how you do stuff is gonna kill those who won’t adapt and loosen their grip on what they believe they can control. The Internet has made our customers smarter, less patient, and way more demanding. That freedom and instant gratification of information has made them demand instant gratification from us. And why not – they get it every where else in their lives. They live and shop online, they tweet and IM making even email old school, and you’re thinking they want to wait on YOU or even your power studio system to respond to them? You think they really want to give you their number so you can call them back just to get the information any other commercial web site they’ve visited over the last week would give them instantly?
And then there’s a legitimate follow up question. Why ARE you hiding your prices? So [comptitor's name here] can’t discover them and sell that bride the same tit-for-tat items you’re attempting to sell? Really?
I know for a FACT that every bride who’s ever booked GrantDeb Photographers has chosen and ultimately booked US and not our pricing or our product offerings. They fell in love with US, from the very first time we got together and presented US to them. Our focus, from the very first second we introduce ourselves is always about relationship vs. coverage, about creativity vs. what prints come with a particular package, about them loving their final product so much that they’re gonna cry when they see their album… It’s never about just price alone.
Sure, price comes into the equation – and we proudly share all of our pricing to anyone who asks. You may even ask “if you show prices – then what about the shoppers out there who compare?” My response is simple; in everything you display or say – never make it about the price – always make it about the experience and why you are the only one who can offer that unique experience. How much is that worth? How much does that cost?
I am convinced the next few years of our industry will be the next film vs. digital age. It’ll define those who practice their business like it’s 2004 or those who choose to operate in the new era of transparency. The rock stars of 2010 and beyond won’t be (just) those who can show beautiful technique and win multiple print competitions, or the ones who can fill a room with hungry photogs waiting for their “knowledge” of the business or lighting or … Instead, the rock stars will be those who can live and be totally transparent to their customers – on every level.
What’s Old School?
FEAR. Fear of loss, fear of sharing your precious ideas, fear that some competitor will discover, copy and one-up you. It’s fear.
Fear sucks. It steals creativity. It renders its victims paralyzed when they should be motivated. And most of all, fear kills passion. And passion is the VERY thing you have to portray.
The News Flash
It’s not about the money, or the prices, or what’s in your offerings! If this is how you’re operating now- then you probably need to change. In fact, for things to get better, YOU’VE got to get better – for things to change, YOU’VE got to change. You’ve got to sell YOU – not your “stuff.” You’ve got to make it about what YOU are going to do for them – not what you’re going to sell to them. They have to know you’re going to ROCK their wedding. They’ve got to know you care about them before they will ever even give a flip about you or what you can sell them. They’ve got to buy YOU!
And since you’re selling YOU and not your product or your coverage or your prints or… how is it possible that putting your prices on your site up front will damage any potential you have to garner that bride? My total argument is – it will NOT.
So go ahead and hide your prices. Make it difficult for them to discover YOU and what YOU are or offer (or at least go through lots of horrid, stealthy steps). But be prepared to never know who it was that first came to your site and left dissatisfied only to seek out and find me (grin).
You are the product. Anything less = same-old-2004-business-posture. Anything less = you are an old school wedding photographer.
If you are interested in our core philosophies of attracting and securing our wedding couples – take a look at an article I wrote titled “How to be Certain Your Wedding Photographer is Best For YOU!” on our site.