Photographers are always trying to work on their pricing menus. The layout, the font, the content, the prices themselves, it’s enough to cause a headache for days. It’s funny how something that looks so simple can actually be quite complicated. Pricing is very much a psychological game. I spent 12 years in the corporate world of fashion retail and this game was really drilled into me. It involves picking the right numbers, wording and presentation. You could bust out the calculator and know that the client will pay exactly the same amount, but “Buy One, Get One Free” moves units faster than a “50% off sale.”
In this article, I wanted to share three different pricing strategies I’ve tried, along with some pros and cons for each.
The Package Pricing Style
This is probably the most commonly used strategy in the wedding market. It’s easy because you know what the typical elements are to include based on experience.
Create 3 or 4 different packages that have a large enough dollar difference and more importantly a significant enough difference in perceived value. The goal is to get the client to move to the next higher package. The jump can’t be too painful monetarily and the change in value has to be significant enough to incentivize them to do it.
The lowest package should be insignificant in perceived value in ratio to the retail value. Its true purpose is to serve as a benchmark for the next package. The middle package(s) should be your true selling package. Fill this up with the commonly requested items and price accordingly. The highest package is for display purposes. It should be loaded with everything and the kitchen sink and priced high enough to warrant the load.
It also helps to have the a la carte set of options where each individual item has the full retail price associated. Note that typically the packages show a significant discount when items are put together. Again, we are talking about incentives.
- Easy to read and digest
- Contains all the common requests
- Clients can shop “off the rack” easily
- Minimizes the need to discount and negotiate if the common requests are well addressed
- Swapping out products/services requires calculations and negotiations
- Changing menus and pricing can be tricky in the middle of a season since it requires keeping track of what package you passed out to whom
- Clients may feel pigeon holed into packages
- Clients don’t always understand the full value of the elements included
A la Carte
Have a base value for services. In the wedding industry, that equates to 8 hours as a starting point and any additional hours are part of the a la carte menu. In the portrait industry, this is your sitting fee.
The a la carte menu will show a retail value but should be somewhat discounted as if you were adding them to a package yourself. You can also opt to have full retail values to the items and let your client know that discounts may be applied once the items are selected.
- Client feels like they have full control of their options
- Client understands the full value of all the elements
- Requires a calculator and some thought
- Allows client to keep the dollar value lower
- Negotiation tactics and discounting methods will need to be used heavily
This is more of a combination of A la Carte and package mentality. Take the retail value from the package strategy and take the base value for services in the A la Carte mode, the difference between the two is the product credit. The total retail is the base value that you are willing to do work for it’s what I like to call, my “roll out of bed” price.
You will need to have an a la carte menu to go with this. The retail prices on the a la carte should be somewhat discounted to the degree that they would be included in a package strategy.
As a side note, this method, has been my most successful approach for my portrait business.
- It gives both you and your client control
- Client understands the value of the elements.
- Negotiation and discounting methods are not necessary though may still be implemented as you see fit.
- Requires a calculator and some thought
There’s no right or wrong to any of these strategies. You just have to try them out to see what works well for you, your selling style and your business. I’d love to know if you’ve tried any of these and which ones work for you. If your method isn’t in the list, please do share in the comments below!