Cheap Client or Something Else?

Think about your first 5 star restaurant experience (or close to it). You check out the menu and everything looks amazing. You decide on lobster tail with a glass of chardonnay and wait in anticipation. When your meal arrives your waitress places a bite sized lobster tail with garnish in front of you. You mumble under your breath “Is that it?”

You feel a bit underwhelmed by the portion size but after tasting it you quickly realize it’s the BEST lobster you’ve ever had in your entire life. The tab arrives. $110 for three bites of lobster tail and a glass of your favorite wine.

So what does this have to do with photography? Everything.

One thing we as photographers struggle with is successfully communicating our worth to potential clients. The biggest frustration is dealing with the ‘cheap’ client. But earlier in 2017 I had an epiphany.

People who aren’t willing to pay what you charge aren’t cheap. 

 

But how is that possible? 

They said they wanted photos

They said they liked your work

You met their budget

They still didn’t book.

So what happened? 

I don't believe it's because they are cheap. I believe it's because they don’t value what you are offering enough to pay what you are asking. It’s just that simple. For instance, the same guy who is unwilling to pay for a $6 drink at Starbucks will turn around and spend $30 on Stance socks. The same woman who would never spend more than $8 on socks will drop $350 at Lulu Lemon in a heart beat. See where I’m going with this? So the same couple who spends money on lots of other things might be unwilling to pay what they perceive to be an exorbitant amount of money when it’s their first time hiring a professional. 

I don’t blame them. New experiences can make people trust their inner skeptic more than anything else. And even though they told you what they wanted and you are offering it on a silver platter, sometimes that might not be enough. 

So as a photographer, what can you do? The simple answer is nothing. You can’t control how others feel or react to what you’re offering. This holds true for any business or individual who is offering their products or services in exchange for money. The only thing you can do is work on providing more value for your potential clients. If they see what you have as something they need, then they’ll work with you. If not, you smile and let them know how amazing it was to have met them. 

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt as though the client said no to what you considered to be the perfect solution for them? It happens. And as much as it may bruise your ego a bit, understand that it’s not your goal to turn everyone into a believer.

To quote the great Seth Godin ‘It’s not your job to scream to the masses, it’s your job to whisper to your tribe and hope they listen.”

So stop screaming and do a little more whispering. Work on your craft (whatever that may be) Add value. Connect. The rest will take care of itself. 


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