My husband and I both love the ocean and warm tropical breezes. Yes, I am aware that I live in Pittsburgh. It is an accident of birth and my heart certainly lives on a sailboat in the British Virgin Islands but it's difficult to raise a family without the help of your extended family and I don't think we would all fit on a 40′ sailboat very comfortably for the long-term.
Anyway, that point of all that is that one of my favorite magazines to flip through before I go to bed at night is Coastal Living. In the last issue there was a page highlighting different beach towels with fun bright stripes and patterns. As I looked at the prices of the towels this is what went through my head:
“Oh, I like that one….from bedbathandbeyond.com for $15. That sounds great!”
“Oh, that one is pretty too…let's see…garnethill.com for $38. Eek. $38 is a bit more then I would be willing to spend for a beach towel, but I really like it so maybe I'll splurge.”
“That's a pretty blue. frescotowels.com for $69. $69! I could have a dinner out with my husband for that!”
“Wait, what is that I see? Tigre Stripe Beach Towel in blue for $450!! No, I didn't read that right. $450?!?! Is that special truffle oil cotton that can only be found by pigs?!?! Maybe it's so expensive because Tiger is spelled Tigre?”
I was shocked and dumb-founded. I had NO IDEA that there were beach towels that cost over $100, let alone as much as your plane ticket to Mexico. I also realized that this was a great way to illustrate that there is a place in the market for all price points in photography, as in beach towels. I personally will opt for the $15 beach towel from Costco, because I do not value beach towels. All I need is some reasonably soft cotton that will dry me off at the beach and be a barrier between my derriere and the sand.
Our photography businesses have to choose what level of the market we want to serve, and if you choose to have a low-volume boutique model and you are priced appropriately – you WILL get client inquires that say you are too expensive or you aren't in their budget. This is just their way of saying they do not value professional photography as much as your target client does. It is ok, let them go. There is a market for every price point in photography.
Please don't read that sentence as there is a market for underpricing your work. If you do not price for profit you will not be in business long. There is, however, a market for affordable chain studios or private high volume studios, medium priced studios, and higher priced boutique studios. Once you determine the why of your pricing, have the confidence to stick with it. Allow the people that don't value your type of photography to find someone else that will meet their needs.
If I valued beach towels I would find a way to save $450 to purchase said beach towel. Clients do not have to purchase your largest package in order to work with you. Many people can afford the higher priced boutique studios if they truly value that experience. Giving up a few dinners out can quickly result in a few hundred dollars saved. Plan your marketing around your target market, those that VALUE your experience. It takes some patience but if there is a market for $450 beach towels there is certainly a market for boutique photography studios.
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