Do Your Customers See the "Value" in Your Photography?

Any good business plan includes targeting the right customers. You may not want to open an ice cream store along the Iditarod trail in Alaska or start up a VCR repair store.

Although these may seem like silly obvious examples, they do bring up a good point. Who are you targeting in your photography business and senior market?

Knowing your customers and your market is important. And realizing that not everyone is your customer is even more important. Some people do not value photography and some people just may not value your photography. So how much time should you invest (or waste) trying to convince the wrong (fit for your business) people what you and your work are worth?

The first step is to understand that people pay for what is important to them. “Too expensive” doesn’t necessary mean that they don’t have an adequate amount of funds to exchange for a good or service. It may just mean they don’t see the value of what you are selling or what your business provides. And it can also mean that they don’t see the value or place any value on photography.

As an example, there is a chain soup/salad/sandwich store that opened up in our town a few years ago. It costs us nearly 20 bucks to eat there. This place is “too expensive” for me. Why? Because I don’t value what they have to offer. Not because I can’t afford it. At this place you stand in line to give your order and sit down. Then you get back up when they call out your name to get your order. Then you get back up each time to fill up your drink (and to get napkins, etc.) Finally, after you are finished, you have to clean up your own table and put the bowls, plates, silverware, and trash away. Now I will gladly pay triple the amount (of what we would pay at this place) at our favorite restaurant because I see the value in eating there.

Another good example of what’s important when it comes to paying for something involves my previous career as a drug rep. My wife and I spent a decade in pharmaceutical sales and I happened to sell a very popular drug for acid reflux. The owner of the salon and head stylist where my wife had her hair done actually took my medication. In talking with her I discovered that before she was prescribed my drug she couldn’t sleep and it was was painful to eat and even drink water. Because of her reflux she had been to the ER several times thinking she was having a heart attack. In fact, without the proper attention she was at risk for esophageal cancer. But she complained about the cost. “45 dollars a month is ridiculous!” she said. The irony (at least to me) was that my wife was about to spend over $100 for her hair to be cut and colored. So for a haircut and color she was charging nearly 3x the cost of a life saving medication. A medication that not only improved the quality of her life but prevented her from serious injury (and frightening medical costs) further down the road.

My last example is I don’t enjoy amusement parks like Six Flags. I hate having to park, walk around all day in the heat, eat greasy food, pay 8 dollars for bottled water, and I DO NOT like riding any of the rides. My wife loves it. I don’t want to pay for a day at the park because I don’t see the value in it for me. My wife will spend all the money in her pocket (and then some) for the experience.

My point is that not everyone’s hierarchy of wants and needs are the same as yours. Everyone values different things. Photography is no different. Sometimes we hear we are too expensive and sometimes we hear we don’t charge enough. You cannot be everyone’s photographer or convince everyone that you are worth what you are charging. But you can invest in those that do value what you do. To them, the work that is hanging in their homes and in their hands is priceless. Invest in these customers instead of trying to convince the one’s that don’t see the value in your photography.

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