Today photographers find themselves in a new consumer culture. Like no other time in our history has our industry so quickly and so significantly been changed. The rapid growth and change in technology has caused us to begin looking at new ways to price, market and sell our work to consumers.
The days of paper prints, traditional photo albums and traditional methods for pricing these products are quickly becoming a thing of the past. As consumer demand continues to grow for more digital products delivered in formats which they can more easily view and share their images is causing us to begin thinking of new pricing models and delivery methods,
To many of us who have been in the industry prior to the digital revolution this means a new way of thinking. For years we built our pricing around a finished print or package of prints. As we move into the future we are seeing less and less desire or need for finished prints. So, what does this all mean to the future of professional photography?
First, we have to determine where we create the value in our work. Quite frankly that has not changed. The value of professional photography was never in the finished image. In truth it was and still is in the experience we create for our client and in the emotional response they have to the work we have created. When we understand this we can begin to more easily reevaluate how we price and present our product to our client.
Here is an example. When my daughter was a child we planned a trip to Disney World. Now my daughter was a huge Cinderella fan. One of the things we wanted to do while at Disney was to attend the Cinderella breakfast. My ex-wife, who is a librarian, did a bunch of research and found that getting tickets to the Cinderella breakfast was next to impossible; in fact, the travel guides said basically you needed and act of congress to get tickets.
Upon further research she found that if you called precisely six months to the day of the first day you were going to be in the park beginning at 6am you may have a chance to get tickets. So she marked the calendar and on the scheduled day she set her alarm and woke up early to begin her attempt to get tickets. On her third attempt she got through and was able to purchase the coveted tickets.
Now she didn’t tell me what she paid for these tickets but was quite pleased she had been successful. We arrived at Disney a few months later and on our appointed day we went to Cinderella’s castle and were escorted upstairs and seated for the breakfast. By this time I had learned what we paid for this breakfast and I was a little stunned as I had never paid this much for breakfast in my life.
I was seated directly across from my daughter and when Cinderella and Prince Charming entered the room from behind me. It was then, when I saw the expression on my daughter’s face I realized something special had happened. To see how happy and mesmerized my daughter became and her reaction to the characters made it all worth it. You see I had not purchased breakfast; I had purchased an experience, one I would pay for again to allow my daughter to feel so much joy and happiness. It is all about the experience.
So, understand, in this new consumer culture. For you to be successful you must be able to control the experience. Every aspect of your relationship with them must be about enhancing the experience. From the time of your initial contact to the post-delivery thank you note and follow-up.
It is no longer simply enough to create great images; you have to create a great experience. Now the more difficult part comes.
How do you market this experience so your client will be willing to pay you the kind of money you need to make to be profitable? Those are questions I will address in part two of this article in a future post.