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Do You Want Clients Who Pay You Now — or Pay You Later?

Posted By Sean Cayton On October 9, 2008 @ 9:00 pm In Business of Photography | No Comments

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Professional portrait and wedding photographers always face this question: Do I charge for everything up front before the job is done — or do I charge for some of it up front and collect some of it in sales after the fact?

Start Low, Then Keep Selling

While it’s a bit more work, there are a number of advantages to keeping your price point low, charging less on the front end and pursuing sales on the back end. Establishing a low fee for your services and working to sell and deliver products to the customer afterwards builds value in your business. What you’re really doing is betting on your ability to create strong, long-lasting customer relationships.

During a time when the economy is doing a number on us all, it’s important to remain positive about your cash flow, and this pricing strategy will help you do just that.

Having a lower price point for weddings and portraits doesn’t necessarily mean you make less money. For instance, we can easily move a $3,000 wedding to gross over $10,000 by building incentives into our pricing and then exceeding the expectations of our clients. But we must prove to our customers that what they’re buying is really worth it. The money comes as we earn trust.

Florists, caterers and planners don’t have this opportunity. We do.

Long-Term Relationships Pay Over Time

Every time we book a wedding, we understand that the clients’ wedding day is the beginning of a relationship that oftentimes will last for years.

A client who returns to us again and again is one less client we have to spend money searching for. After the wedding, a couple may spend four, five or even 10 times what they actually spent on their wedding photography in both future sittings and products. Now, that’s real value!

Even in an economic downturn, photographers who practice this strategy will continue to generate business. So don’t be afraid to set your price point low and defer payment up front. Just remember that it’s up to you to incentivize your pricing so that a client will keep coming back.

Building on current client relationships is the key to surviving in a down economy. Nearly all the clients I’ve worked for have been open to long-term relationships. These relationships are what keep my business afloat during turbulent times.

[tags]photography business, photography advice[/tags]

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