The F Stops Here: Should I Lower My Prices To Compete?
Not so long ago, in a small town in the American Midwest, there existed no less than 5 photography studios: all branded in bright colors, along with the photographer’s name. Nestled in downtown, each studio storefront displayed cheerful young families, forever frozen in an almost identical pose.
For a small town with a population of nearly 13,000 people, that’s a lot of competition.
A quick look at those photographer’s websites reveals that those five studios are locked in a price war: lowering session fees and undercutting each other with specials, numerous discounts, and freebies just to bring clients through the door. Because the photographers are so similar, differentiating by price is the only way to stand out from the competition.
In an overly saturated market, lowering your prices to compete might seem like the only way to survive.
But there’s a different way, one we would urge you to consider.
In the small town described above, the value proposition (the value delivered to those who purchase their goods and services) of these photography studios is that they are offering images and session fees for very little money. Put more bluntly, their value proposition is that they are cheap.
If you are having difficulty breaking through in your market, think about what value you provide to your clientele. Are you:
The most cutting edge, offering products that can’t be found anywhere else?
An aspirational luxury brand?
Specializing in gallery and design services?
The most experienced?
Incorporating a different style or technique that can’t be found anywhere else?
Frequently published in magazines or online?
Able to appeal to a specific demographic or subculture?
In other words, why would someone want to hire you?
In order to market your photography to clients who will value your services, you need to figure out exactly what that value is first.
So think about what makes you and your business special and make a list. Immediately cross off items like “I take beautiful pictures” (a lot of people do) or “I preserve memories” (anyone with a camera can do that).
Clients want to know what you can do for them, beyond just having the lowest prices in the market.
Because despite what your cheapest clients might lead you to think, a market for sustainably priced, profitable photography does exist. Style, branding, and having an excellent customer experience are often far more compelling considerations than price.
But, you say, I would never drop $3,000 on boutique photography services.
That’s perfectly OK, because some clients will. For those clients, the value of your photography outweighs the cost.
So if you’re lamenting the fact that clients don’t seem interested in paying your rates, reframe your thinking to focus on the right clients--those who appreciate the value you are offering--rather than the right prices. Figure out your value proposition, and run your business accordingly. You’ll be amazed at the success that can result.
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