Psychological Pricing Tactics for Photographers

The way you structure and display your rates to potential clients could be negatively affecting your earning potential and losing you work. Use these tried and trusted psychological "tricks" to help you get hired and earn more money.

It doesn't matter what area of the photographic industry you work in, what you charge is something that you will have to constantly discuss and justify to people. For those of you who give out flat rates rather than offering a range of price plans you really could be doing yourself a disservice. By not illustrating the many possible options available, you leave a client with very little to base their decision on. Even if you never actually intend or expect these additional price plans to be taken up by your client, by including them on your website or in an estimate, you will help to put the services you offer and the prices you charge into a much more understandable context.

If you have read this far then hopefully you are warming to the thought of switching to price plans over single flat rates. While this change in itself could be enough to help persuade a client to hire you, there is a whole host of underlying principles borrowed from the world of psychology that could guide their decisions even more. Thanks to the in-depth research of psychology expert and author Nick Kolenda who has created a fascinating video on this very topic. Kolenda shows and explains how things like price placement, color, and choice of labels can all positively contribute to the way people process and perceive the prices that you have on offer.

I have been a fan of Kolenda's work since reading his book on the methods of persuasion a few years back. Psychology and human behavior are areas I have been interested in for many years now and I strongly believe that many of the psychological concepts addressed in these fields should be taken advantage of by photographers working today. This isn't about using manipulative techniques to fraud people into buying things they don't want, but more about how subtle changes to the way we present things like price plans could really make all the difference when a client is deciding if they want to hire you or not. Even if you don't want to use these psychological ideas yourself, understanding what "tricks" are used in regards to pricing may just stop you buying that camera in the sales that you don't really need. 

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Noah Hayes's picture

Great video! I used this model when building out my wedding pricing and it worked so well. Almost 100% of my bookings chose my second most expensive plan.

I’m curious to know if anyone has adopted this type of structure for commercial or event work. I haven’t tried creating a pricing structure for those types of jobs using this kind of model, instead only offering one price but if someone has I’d like to hear how you’ve structured yours

cameramanDop Shanghai Hong Kong's picture

I actually do this quite a lot,
But I also add a second step process when client choose his plan.
I coming back to my client after he choose his option with extra add ons with little pricing.
I'm dealing with video and I own the camera, so it's very simple do.
"Hey, what about shooting with a upgrade version of the camera you choose for just a few extra bucks?"
Do this before they sign the full budget, of course, but you can be sure to be able to add 50 to 200 USD from upgrade the lighting, the camera or the sound microphone package.
And for me, it's better too, cause I can work with better equipment. At the end of the year, it's a lot of money...

Paul Parker's picture

Love your second step strategy for clients. By insulating your price and tagging on additional items you'll actually reduce the pain of paying for the client, they will keep that initial figure in their head and almost forget the other costs. The less pain they have when paying the better! : )

Paul Parker's picture

Glad price plans are working for you Noah, I have used them for both commercial and fashion-related jobs, but each one has been tailored for that particular client at the estimate stage. I would personally struggle to have a generic price plan for all occasions on my site, but once you have a template built it's super easy to customize a plan and send it out each time.

For me, price plans give the client more options. I have found over the years that many clients are too proud or their ego too big for them to come to you and say your price is too expensive. Instead, they would rather just not hire you. By giving a few price plans you'll hopefully maximize your chances that you can at least keep the dialogue open long enough to work out what figure that potential client has in their head...