As a wedding photographer, there will come a time – actually, many times – when you will be asked to offer a discount. Or perhaps bookings are low this month and you’re tempted to offer a discount to reach your monthly booking goal. It seems harmless to offer a discount but here’s the thing – the cost of running a business is only going to go up and when you shoot that wedding in 6-12 months, your prices will likely have *increased*. So not only will you be shooting a discounted wedding at a lower price point, but if you’ve also discounted, you’re working just as hard for an even lower rate. Additionally, offering discounts attracts clients based on price and ultimately undervalues the work we do. If we want to build a sustainable business, we need to make sure we implement a quality-based brand positioning rather than price-based positioning in our business. We want clients that will hire us because they value what we do, not because we were offering a $500 discount off of our services when they were looking for a photographer.
So what should wedding photographers do to avoid feeling like they have to offer discounts on their services? Here are seven ideas:
Time and time again, I see photographers not putting a starting price on their website. While this forces clients who are interested enough in your services to reach out and start a conversation with you, it also means that clients aren’t able to see if they can even afford your services and you will likely be generating leads that will actually lead to nowhere. If you want to increase the number of prequalified leads, put a starting price on your “info” or “investment” page and decrease the chances that someone who can’t afford your services will actually reach out. This, in turn, will also decrease the number of potential clients who are asking for discounts.
Let’s face it – people don’t read every single word on your “info” or “investment” page so they actually might miss your starting price on that page. An easy solution to this is to also include your starting price on your contact page. For my wedding photography business, I use a dropdown menu on my contact page so clients can choose what they are inquiring about – my wedding collections, my associate wedding collections, and my intimate wedding collections. Next to each option I have a starting price. Clients have to make a conscious decision to choose an option when inquiring so if they can’t afford any of the options, they will likely not reach out.
By having multiple collections, you can not only accommodate clients at different price points, but you can also decrease the number of times you’re asked to discount. If a client sees that you offer three collections at different price points, they will be less likely to ask for a discount because they see that you are already offering high-value collections to choose from. Most clients will be much more shy about asking for a discount when they see the range of collections you offer at different pricing. The key here is to make sure that your minimum collection includes everything a client would need for you to capture their wedding day properly and in a way that is reflective of the work you showcase on your website and portfolio. This way, it becomes more difficult for clients to want to negotiate because there is nothing in the minimum collection that could be taken out.
The arrival of COVID-19 brought an increase in intimate weddings. If you’re looking to fill your calendar with smaller weddings, create collections that are specific to intimate weddings so that you have something to offer those couples. This way, you’re not discounting your regular collections, but rather serving intimate wedding clients better by offering them collections that speak to their needs.
If you’re asked to discount your collections, offer a value-added incentive instead. Ideally, this value-added incentive will not cost you money, but if it does, it should be low-cost to you. For example, an off-season engagement session will not cost you money, and if it’s the off-season then it will not be a huge demand on your time. There are many benefits of this option, including that you get to meet your clients before the big day, which means you start to build your relationship, and you also get to create content for your portfolio, blog, and social media during a time of year that does not generally yield a lot of new content for you. Another option is to offer a product that is of low-cost to you. For example, a set of gift prints or a canvas. Yes, you’d be spending a little bit of money for these items but the face value will be much more appealing to your client, and oftentimes, clients are just looking for *something* to make them feel better about the money they are spending. A product that is low-cost to you will also allow your clients to see the quality of your products and they’ll be more likely to invest in more products later.
If you’re feeling really tempted to offer a discount on your services, that is likely because you need that booking. This means you haven’t yet created enough demand for your services. If you increase the number of leads coming in, you’ll be increasing the demand for your services, and you can therefore get more selective about the work you take on. This means it’s a lot easier to say no to clients who are asking for discounts because you know you’ve got plenty of clients to say yes to.
If you don’t want to give up the spot in your calendar to a wedding booked with a discount, a solution may be to refer the wedding out to a photographer who *is* in the client’s price point. This allows you to easily show the client that your prices are firm, serve the client better by sending him/her a quality referral that aligns with their budget, and strengthen your referral network. Once the client sees that you would rather refer them to someone else than discount your services, they’ll either increase their budget if they want to work with you or they will be thankful for a quality recommendation from you.
Well, the beauty of owning your own business is that you’re the boss and you can offer discounts if/when you want. If you happen to receive an inquiry from a client that can’t afford your services but that *you* really want to work with (and offering a value-added incentive hasn’t incentivized your client enough), you may consider offering a discount. I, personally, have done this when the wedding is at a venue I want to shoot at or on a date I’m trying to fill. We all have our “bucket list” venues! If a client is getting married at a venue you’d love to add to your portfolio, you may consider offering them a discount in order to lock in the booking. Similarly, if the client is getting married during the off-season and can’t afford your services, you may want to offer a discount to ensure the booking. This should be an exception though! A choice you *want* to make – not a choice you feel you *have* to make.
Your goal, when it comes to booking weddings, should be to have enough leads coming in so that you never feel like you *have* to discount. Instead, you want to have plenty of leads so that you can be selective with what you take on.
Because making it common practice to offer $500 off promotions every few months? That’s only going to get potential clients who follow you to not want to book at regular prices. Instead, they’ll wait around for the next time you are offering that $500 off promotion. And clients who already booked you at regular prices will feel bad about having spent more money on you than they probably needed to.
If you’re looking to increase your demand by generating more leads for your business, you’d be a great fit for my course “Book More Weddings 101”. Enrollment is currently closed but if you’d like to know when it opens again, click here to get on the wait list.
Hello there! I'm Alex! I teach hobbyist photographers how to take better photos and professional photographers how to build a thriving business. Here I share tips and resources to help you grow. Thank you so much for visiting my blog!