Photo 101 | Something Different

I actually thought of this blog post after going through Wendy’s one day and getting a shake and seeing how the cup and the whole package was very similar to McDonalds way of doing shakes since launching their McCafe. It made me think of any business, photography in particular, and how by offering something different, something new that changes the game for other photographers is far greater than offering a service at a lower price or for free in some cases. What exactly do I mean? Let me explain:

Lets say you’ve been trying to get in the photography field whether for seniors, weddings, babies, etc for a while now and you feel your work is up to par with those around you if not better, but the work coming in does not match up with what those around you are bringing in. So what do you need to do different to bring in more people? You feel that your work is better than those around you but no one is booking you and you cost just the same or maybe a little less or little more but the cost isn’t what is doing it. Immediately you think I’ll lower my price and beat the other photographers out. A couple things wrong with that mindset; who does that benefit? Those around you might in fact lose work to you, which for you is great, however you’ve lowered your price so much that you’re not making in money off of those jobs, in fact after the time, traveling, and all the other expenses you are actually losing money. So this mindset of dropping your price to hardly anything or for nothing at all does not benefit anyone. Imagine it like this a car dealership has customers coming in all the time, buying/trading cars almost daily, but the dealership across the street is around the same price, but is fairly new to the game and does not have quite the client base the bigger dealership has. So the owner decides to mark down his cars in half to bring in customers. It will probably work, customers will come, but how long is this dealer going to last at these prices? They are bringing in customers strictly on price alone so as people start spreading the word, you won’t hear “They have great customer service” or “They treated me so well there” or “They offer great warranties”, what people will be telling friends/family is “They have cheap prices.” A year later that dealership has filed for bankruptcy and the dealership across the street is still striving because their client base has been built around great customer service rather than price alone. Kind of catch my drift?

So, what does this have to do with a Wendy’s shake or offering something different? When McDonalds launched their McCafe branding, it changed everything about the appearance of McDonalds. They have even relieve Ronald McDonald of his duties and no longer want to be associated with the old branding. And it’s worked for them financially. They’ve also raised the bar for fast food chains as well. Have you noticed how many Burger Kings, Wendy’s, Taco Bells, etc have changed their look to have more of that coffee shop look or at least look at little more appealing rather than having a dirty, grimy fast food appearance? Not just the appearance of the storefront, but also in the way they package things. If you get a shake from McDonalds now, it’s no longer in a paper cup with a normal lid, it comes in a plastic cup with whip cream and a cherry on top. I drove through Wendy’s the other night, and guess how the shake was handed to me? Plastic cup with whip cream. Nothing has changed in either of these companies prices. Wendy’s did not lower the price of their shake to beat out McDonalds, rather they upped their packaging to be that similar with their competition.

How does this pertain to photography? Go back to the first paragraph, if you notice that you are not bringing in the amount of bookings you would like, and your quality and pricing is close to photographers around you, maybe it’s time for a facelift in your business model. Maybe it’s the packaging of your pictures, the presentation of your pictures, the experience you are providing for your clients, or maybe even the types of products you have to offer. By offering something new, something that people will enjoy you will completely change the game for those around you without pricing being affected. And that, my friends, is called healthy competition. Raising the bar for those around you is what will keep photography very much alive and keep people interested in having great pictures taken. Sometimes is a risk or a tough move to make but when word of mouth starts to get around about the types of products you have, or the great customer service you have, pricing will no longer be an issue because people will want you for YOU. And that is how you should model your business, because no one else on this planet is like you, and by using the power of YOU, your business will be like any other. More on that next time. 🙂

Have a great Wednesday everyone!

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