The average American makes nearly 35,000 choices in a given day. People are onstantly bombarded with information about products and services that “beat the competition” are “top rated” and that “you can’t find anywhere else”.
It’s part of our culture, that as individuals we have the freedom to make our own choices. If we are not offered choices we feel underserved and if the decision is made for us we feel our rights have been violated.
Shopping around is perceived as a freedom that yields the benefit of making the best purchase. We got the best deal – we looked at all of the choices and then made an educated decision.
I love looking for deals and I love shopping around, but I also see that the benefit of unlimited choices can be somewhat of an illusion.
Research on the art of choosing by Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper shows that when people are offered too many choices they are less likely to purchase – although they are attracted to the freedom of choosing, it is easier to make a decision to purchase when there were fewer options.
I recently was shopping for a table. A tall, round café table to be exact. I knew what I wanted, so I set out on a search that consisted of online shopping and visits to at least 5 different stores. There were a number of options, but for some reason I could not make a decision. There were a few tables that would do the job, but I felt unsatisfied because I was worried “what if there is a better option elsewhere?”. By the time I got home, I didn’t want a table anymore. There were too many options spinning in my head, and I was overwhelmed.
So where is the balance? How do we offer enough choices for our clients to feel they have freedom, but not too much that it is overwhelming and confusing?
How To Price Your Photography Services
I like to think of photography packages like a menu.
When you sit down and open the menu you have to make some decisions: Do I want an appetizer? Or do I want an entrée? Maybe I want both, and perhaps I will even want dessert. You can create packages around this idea: Offer an appetizer, offer an entrée, offer the two together, then offer it all: appetizer, entrée and dessert. A little something for every appetite.
With that in mind, here are a few tips you can use to create an effective set of options without being overwhelming.
1. Offer a max of 3 or 4 options
Create a few standard packages that appeal to the majority of your clients. You can always adjust to individuals needs, but keeping the options limited helps when they are comparing not only your packages to each other, but also when comparing them to other photographers.
People are most likely to purchase the middle package, so create these knowing that your most popular seller will be middle one – this will affect how you price.
2. Create a price strategy
There are a few ways you can price your packages attractively while charging enough to make your time worth it.
The most popular package (the middle package/s) should be priced at or just above your average need for profit. You can price your bottom package at your average, that way you’re making money on every package.
The next package up you can then give added perceived value without significantly increasing the price – this strategy makes is hard not to upgrade! (This is the entrée – it is barely more expensive than the appetizer, but it is a much bigger portion!)
The added value can come from items that don’t cost you a large amount of money or time, but give the customer a perceived added value for the price increase. For example you could offer multiple outfit changes, add another hour of shooting time or, offer a canvas print of their desired photograph.
Your top package should offer all the bells and whistles, and it’s price (although reasonable in comparison to what they are getting) will make the other options seem more affordable.
3. Keep the descriptions simple and straight forward
A menu needs to be easy to understand. You have probably been to a restaurant that has so many items on the menu with too many fancy words that don’t really mean anything to you as a customer.
You have already slimmed down you options and created attractive prices. Now your options should be simple and easy to understand.
Here is an example that shows the contrast of distracting words and effective simplicity:
The Fairytale Package, only $2,500
Engagement session includes 2 hours of experienced, professional portrait photography. We deliver beautifully edited photographs via easy online viewing where you download what you want!
Wedding day photography includes 5 hours continuous shooting with two highly skilled photographers that guarantee your precious moments are captured.
Fine art album of your big day, perfect for sharing with loved ones in the years to come.
Wedding Package 2 | $2,500
Engagement Session: 2 hours & access to online gallery
Wedding Day: 2 photographers, 5 hours & access to online gallery
Custom Photo Album
When deciding between the 50 other photographers in the area, your package is now easy to understand and easy to compare. Most people wont even finish reading The Fairytale Package (you probably didn’t even read the whole thing just now).
When options on the market are unlimited, it helps to create choices that are easy and attractive without overwhelming your clients. These tips can be implemented into your business, and in the long run customers will appreciate the ease of decision-making you provided.
Resources for pricing your photography
If you are interested in the Art of Choosing, check out this Ted Talk by researcher Sheena Iyengar.