Engage Your Clients With A Clever Pricing Strategy

Engage Your Clients With A Clever Pricing Strategy

Most of us approach our pricing with some apprehension and anxiety. It is a topic of much discussion and debate among creative professionals, but with a little ingenuity, you can break away from boring pricing and use it in a way that will excite your client and build a brand identity!

It has been shown time and time again that a successful brand can connect with its customer base on an emotional level. Brands that can position themselves in line with a customer’s views and beliefs will have far better client retention and allegiance. As photographers we often try and get this message across through the content we shoot or through some whimsical about me section on our websites. Another strategy that is often used is social media which allows for a constant stream of personal glimpses into ones thoughts and life which sets in place a slow but evolving relationship based on repetition.

One facet that is quite often overlooked is the pricing strategy. Pricing is this big taboo in our industry. There are few guidelines, and prices fluctuate from market to market and across genres. It is quite incredible how completely versatile the pricing is in this industry, but what is more incredible is the stagnant linear approach most folks seem to take.

A clever and rewarding pricing strategy can be one of the most effective and speedy ways to prove to your clients what you believe in and the kind of personality you bring to the table. You are literally putting your money where your mouth is!

Message saturation

The problem with social media and your about me section is that you are a bit like the town crier, ringing the bell, and making announcements to the general public. Except that you are in a giant room half filled with competing town criers each with their own message that they want heard. It can be a bit tough to build an audience and to seem authentic when everyone else is saying the same things.

Clients raising the bar

As a results of constantly being bombarded with cliché lines and social media drivel many clients are learning to tune out the bulk of what they see and what they choose to read will often only get a quick glimpse. The clients have no choice but to raise the bar in an effort to weed through the instagram snapshots, facebook tags, and constant twitter updates that populate their feeds. Most of these attempts have the simple goal of building brand identity which just doesn't translate, but a sure fire way to always get a clients attention is to appeal to their wallet.

A Pricing Structure That Engages

To create a pricing structure that engages your client you will need to break away from the norm of simply listing prices or packages, and instead using those numbers to creatively put into context your brand identity.

Support Shared Visions

Many consumers these days want to do business with humans not corporations. They demand social responsibility and as a business owner you can attach your brand to any number of social or political issues ranging from local to global in scale. You can offer discounts to clients that use solar power. You can offer discounts to local manufacturers to help keep them competitive against the international outsourced giants. You can offer a discount on styling for your food photography if the client chooses to only use locally grown produce.

Furthermore, there is a lot of opportunity to brand yourself locally through various community events. You can offer discounts to local businesses that support and participate in these events. You can offer discounts for promotional material that will be used during the events.

You can even have some fun with this concept and combine it with the power of social media to offer reactionary discounts to current events. Did a sports team from your clients city win a championship? Now might be a good time to send them a promotional offer along with a congratulatory note. Did your clients city experience a regional disaster? Now may be a good time to offer a discount to help those in that area in a time of need.

Supporting shared visions is all about rallying together for a cause. There is strength in numbers.

Reward Lifestyle Choices

Many clients and customers these days use all sorts of data tracking. They track their businesses, their travel, their nutrition, their fitness, and more. Clients track a variety of data which they deem to be of importance to them. You can piggyback off this data and reward your clients for reaching goals which they have set for themselves. I have found this can work well with fitness clients. Most of them track their progress in one way or another through the various apps available to them. By syncing with them you are able to offer them discounts every time they reach a milestone. It's just another way to connect and motivate your client.

In addition you can help reward your clients for making the kind of lifestyle choices you support. Perhaps you can validate parking in a crowded city if the client decides to carpool to your studio.

Rewarding lifestyle choices is all about helping your clients be the best versions of themselves that they can be. If you can attach your brand to that which helps your client evolve as a human entity you will find yourself a friend and client for life.

Show Some Compassion

Life isn’t always a breeze and clients will appreciate if you put in place a program that aims to help those who are less fortunate or going through a rough time.

If you are a portrait photographer, for example, you can directly appeal to your clients by offering a discount on their portrait session if they are currently unemployed or single. The recently unemployed client might be looking for a new career and a good headshot on their LinkedIn page may just be what they need despite funds being strained. Similarly a recently single client may be looking for some headshots to use on various dating websites. Showing a little compassion to your clients in need can be a great way to build long term relationships and a brand image around a particular niche.

You don't always have to appeal directly to the customer. You can choose to support a charity that your clients are passionate about. By donating a portion of the proceeds from your photoshoot you extend that feel good bond throughout the business relationship.

Showing some compassion is all about nurturing the human element in a business environment. Just as you would help another human being in any other part of your life, so should you in your day to day business bustle.

Appear more human and caring

Bottom line, clients these days want to connect, and the go to method for most business to client relationships these days seems to be social media and a slew of self promoting marketing material. It is no longer enough to TELL your client you are genuine but rather you must SHOW them in real and meaningful ways. If you use your pricing to establish common beliefs, show a little compassion, and reward your clients for lifestyle choices, you will be on your way to quickly connecting with clients and at the same time creating the kind of world you want to live in.

Tell us the unique steps you are taking with your pricing strategy to make a difference!

Peter House's picture

Peter House is a commercial fashion photographer from Toronto, Canada. He shoots over 10,000 pieces of clothing every year for a variety of lookbooks. Clients range from small local boutiques to international brands such as Target, Winners, and Sears. In addition to that Peter runs one of the most popular rental studio's in the Toronto area.

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Nice tips

Just like to point out that discounts are tax deductible, you just need to keep good records ;-)


Back when I was in college I use to cut hair at a local barber shop. I started giving 10% off to single mothers that had a child with good grades.On the first month I started the campaign, I got 15 new clients. There after mothers will be asking about the promo with their child's report card at hand. That made me feel great every time I saw perfect report cards and the mothers were so grateful that many of them remained loyal clients until a quit cutting hair. This is a great way to promote pricing and create a long therm clientele.Thanks for refreshing my memory and I'm so bringing this to my photography business now. Divorced women? 40 plus mothers... :)

I'm a divorced mom and I'd probably not have a great reaction to a single mom discount or a divorced woman discount. I can't quite put my finger on it but it rubs me the wrong way a little.

You are right. I think that it all depends on particular situations and how the relationship was ended. I remember one time a client used her photo session as a way to show herself that she was beautiful after an ugly break out— and it worked for her. Not everything is one size fits all :(

It would probably work really well if you already had a relationship with someone. I can't see that being a big success as part of a larger marketing strategy going to people you haven't already established a relationship with, you know? Though I suspect if you put something out to take dating profile pictures assembly line style you'd probably get a response.

Cool. but this is something I will not be promoting in my site. It could be at the bottom of my price list very small for those that would love the idea of a "renew" kind of session. Who knows love relationships can be complicate and so are the break ups. :)

Divorce parties :) I have attended many a divorce celebration :)

there you go!

Most of the suggestions, while unique, are based around offering discounts. It wasn't until recently that I basically doubled my prices and offered many clients 25-50% discounts. The psychology of showing someone what they Could Be paying and then show them the lower discounted price, seems to work pretty well. I have a "Friends and Family" discount of 50% which ends up being about what I was charging last year. It's much easier to get paid now for a harder job or one that took longer than expected by simply offering the discount or the specific deduction after the work is done.

There are entire books written about this sort of pricing strategy. If you start watching prices of certain items (particularly toys), you will see them slowly increase in price starting around September. Then when the Christmas sales and discounts hit in December, they will be discounted to the price they are today. Consumer psychology is an oddly high paying job to have.

I owned a business a few years back and when I needed to increase my prices and amp up new business, I offered my current clients a loyalty discount so their rates didn't increase (it was a regular service) and additional discounts or extra services for referrals. Worked amazingly well. I also found that by showing them the new rates I was charging along with their discount, that when they made referrals they gave my new rates instead of what they paid which worked to my advantage.