Discounting is an age-old problem for photographers chasing business, keen to keep busy. It is important to be clear on the distinction here. A discounted service is different to offering discounts on particular products for limited amounts of time. Offering a discounted service below that of your nearest competition, as a business strategy, will not work over an extended period of time. Or as an overarching goal for your business.
Photography businesses, much like bakeries or hairdressers, are well-worn models of business. There are no great secrets to a better margin over another business of the same description. The only point of difference is you; your skills, quality of work, the subjects you prefer and how your character defines the business. Where you pitch yourself, the clients you associate and work well with and the efficiency with which you deliver your work will produce the margin and profit you can reap.
Discounting because someone has been referred to you by another happy client or friend is a model of success.
Being cheaper than the next person is not a model of success. Discounting because someone has been referred to you by another happy client or friend is a model of success. Only if the discount only appears as a discount to the client or referrals keep happening ad infinitum. Continuous referrals mean only one thing. A community of friends and acquaintances are very taken with your work and good news spreads.
- Discounting is good but only under the right conditions. Passing on the appearance of a discount whilst maintaining your margin is the smart way to sustain your advantage.
- Premium discount. Maintaining the appearance of a discount with a premium service is an excellent cover story. How often have you heard the phrase ‘I just got an incredible deal on this top end product, down from xxx hundreds of £, to just £300’? The perception of having scored a bargain, not entirely false, to have spent a significant chunk of money anyway is all relative.
- Shop window case studies. There may be work where the profile of the client and likely positive and promotional value of the work outshines the actual monetary value of doing that work. Judged against the other work ongoing at that moment in time, this kind of work offers the slightly imperceptible value of being a shot in the arm and encouragement tool for other, better-paid work and clients who place great store on seeing your involvement. Discounting your services on this basis may well be worthwhile. It can become your shop window, catching the eye.
- The case for work. Hopefully, this is not a regular situation but there comes a time when it is better to work than not. If work is slow, taking on work at a discount you would not otherwise consider is the lesser of two evils. Keeping your hand in will keep your head in the game and alive to opportunities you may miss if you are at rest.