I was talking with a client the other day about the challenges facing her business and I want to share it with you…
Let’s call her Sarah. Sarah’s a photographer in a major Midwest market like Chicago (none of this is true, but I want to include a character so you can enjoy it more.) Sarah called because she wanted to raise her prices and needed my advice on how to do it.
When we first got on the call it started with the usual small-talk between two people who don’t know each other and are now suddenly working together. I brought up my recent trip to Greece and she shared experiences from a semester abroad in Florence several years back. Always fun to chat about travel…
But I could tell she was getting antsy for answers so I steered the conversation to what she originally called about.
It’s what most people want to know: how can I charge more for my services?
Raising prices for 2020 – maybe
Sarah had a banner year. She’d photographed 31 weddings over the season and averaged $3,950 per event. After four full years in business she’d finally hit the six-figure mark, even surged past it.
But Sarah was beat. Those 31 weddings took place largely over a 20-week period and she was on the edge of burnout. She still had six weddings to edit and two more weddings to photograph before she finally got a break in the winter.
The money was good but she didn’t want a repeat of 2019 if it meant losing her sanity and not seeing her sweetie for five months. I didn’t blame her.
So Sarah came up with a solution. For 2020 she was going to photograph only 25 weddings and average $4,950. 2020 was going to be the year she did what everyone else (or thinks everyone else) was doing - work less, make more.
Now she wanted my help to put it into practice.
It’s not that simple
I knew I could help Sarah, but it wasn’t going to be as easy as she thought – or wanted.
Who doesn’t want to make more money and work less? Sign me up, too!
Sure, Sarah could raise prices, but what was she going to do to increase the client experience? And not just on the wedding day? What was she going to do on all the days leading up to that? Even before then, what was Sarah going to do during the sales process to create something of real value?
I told Sarah her plan was interesting. It could even be possible to accomplish by 2021 if she did the right things. And then we spent the rest of the call talking about what those are…
The client experience begins the moment they land on your website
Here’s the thing. Charging more is great, but it doesn’t work consistently if you don’t deliver value from the start. In the wedding world, your buyers first experience your brand in your (online) store - your website.
I can assure you if you’re just putting up a bunch of pretty photos, some information about you and your cats and where you like to travel, and then hoping they fill out the contact page, well, you’re not going to have much luck with raising rates.
When they inquire and you get the chance to help them find what they’re looking for, that’s where you’ve really got to show the value. And here’s a hint… it has just as much to do with how you do as what you do for them. I cannot stress this enough.
So, before you even think about raising your rates, think about what you’re going to do more for your clients. You’ve got to give to get.
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