Pricing Your Photography: How to Use Sales Psychology to Create Value

As photographers, it's our job to sell our services and convince clients that our artistic abilities and products have a value worth paying a premium for. It's important in creating a strong brand based on value, instead of a brand that is perceived to be “cheap.” How do we do that? How can we create the message of value for our services?

When considering how to price your photography, one of the subtle things you can do to suggest value in your services is the specific language you use to convey ideas and concepts. This is especially important when it comes to your pricing. Using mass market, consumer terms will give buyers the impression that your brand is cheap. On the other hand, use terms that indicate something of greater value, and you will be giving clients the subtle message that your services and products are of value.

This is something that you should think carefully about, as it should be applied to your brand consistently to create the right impression in clients minds. The language you choose to use to describe your services and products should fit with your brand and be used everywhere-on the phone, on your website, on your blog, in conversations with clients, on your product guide, educational handouts and  most importantly on your pricing.

Photography Terms and Language to Consider

investment                        instead of              cost, price or rates

commissions begin at   instead of              prices or rates start at

complimentary               instead of              free

creative fee                    instead of              session fee

capture the wedding     instead of              shoot the wedding

collections                       instead of              packages

photographer                 instead of              second shooter

artist                                   instead of              main shooter

images/photographs    instead of              shots

gift prints                           instead of              5×7's

handcrafted album        instead of              11×14 album

First edition prints            instead of              proofs

These are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing. If you want more ideas, I recommend checking out the Tofurious Guide to Creative Pricing. It's filled with many tips and tricks to create perceived value in your services and help you understand the psychology behind sales.

Depending on your brand and style, you would want to use words that are associated with your signature style. For example, if your style is more fine art, use words associated with art and artists. If you brand is affordable and fun, use language that will give that kind of a feeling. Think of some of your favorite brands and the type of language they use in marketing and product descriptions. With Apple for example, language is clean and the focus is on easy, simple technology that makes life better. St. Regis is all about refined elegance, and that message is clear from the moment you walk through the doors.

Being clear and consistent in your marketing will bring together all the different parts of your brand into a single cohesive message, as discussed in How to Take Your Photography Marketing from Bad to Great. Sometimes it’s the subtle things that make all the difference. When it comes to pricing your photography, don't cheat yourself by quickly throwing together something that sounds good without thinking carefully about it. And if you did that in the beginning, it's OK, with the slow season upon us, this is the perfect time to revisit your pricing and see how you can make some subtle changes to the language and packages in order to sell more of your services next year. This is just ONE tip you can use to put together photography packages. If you are interested in more ideas just like this, check out the Creative Pricing and Packaging for Creative (Photographers) Professionals below or read my review here. It's packed with dozens of great tips like this that will help you earn more with your sales and have a more profitable business.


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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Lara White March 29, 2013 at 10:54 am

wow Daniel, just goes to show how small minded some people can be. I run into the same attitude myself sometimes from people that are stuck in a rut and can’t accept that they could change their situation.

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Daniel Waters March 29, 2013 at 5:20 am

I got laughed at when I brought up this subject on a forum. I learned the importance of language from zig ziglar. Most people dont get it but its a powerful, subtle and free way of insinuating the value of your craft and getting taken seriously.

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Tobin December 7, 2012 at 8:01 am

Also love the technique of running an outrageously high priced package (ehem, I mean, Collection), and a stripped down cheapo one in order to guide people to your ultra-value-packed, highly profitable mid-priced one (the one you actually intend/hope to sell to most clients.

Tobin

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Tobin December 7, 2012 at 8:00 am

Let’s not forget about

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LENOCE November 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Investment instead of ‘Price’ was on my wedding photography website and I was told by friends in other industries that it sounds expensive! Which is fine if you actually are expensive.

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Nicole November 2, 2012 at 7:10 am

I love the terms and language section of this post, however I do agree that you have to be able to clearly get the point across to the client. In the post you do say that they are terms to consider and I think that is perfect wording. Everyone needs to decide whats best for them.

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Lara White October 31, 2012 at 11:21 am

One of the problems I see with using common terms, is that is leaves you open to be compared on price. The reason is because the more the terms, packages etc. is the same, the less reason there is to compare on anything other than price. And that’s a downward spiral for the photography industry.

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Lara White October 30, 2012 at 11:35 am

Brian,

I can see what you are saying, and in fact I do get frustrated at Starbucks because I want a small, a medium or a large, period! But there really is no standard lingo in our industry: is it a disc of images, digital negatives, files, digital files? A magazine album, a coffee table album, a flush mount album?

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Brian October 30, 2012 at 10:24 am

While I can understand and agree with some of what you’re saying, this is a very slippery slope.

Using language and psychology to help your marketing I can get behind.

Creating language or jargon to differentiate your product when a common semantic already exists is infuriating (see: Starbucks sizes).

Exercise caution – language should help people communicate, not muddy the message while you try to position yourself.

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Ed October 30, 2012 at 4:49 pm

I felt the same way. While we can use Professional terms like photographer and photographs instead of shooter and pics, I also believe that we should be able to clearly communicate what we are doing or sellin in Common terms, i.e. 5×7 print, preview/demo/proof, xxxx Album.
Our advertising should both clearly and enthusiastically say what it is that we are doing and providing.

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Marina October 29, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Another way that I’ve added value to some of my digital prints is printing them on canvas. I’ve recently worked with a company called Bumblejax. They’re a bit on the pricey side but they do really exceptional work and they can mount photos onto acrylic, bamboo, gator board or aluminum. I highly recommend their services to any photographer, especially if you’re looking to sell your work! You can check out their site here: http://www.bumblejax.com/

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