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Archive 2012 · Pricing yourself out of your local market?
  
 
Nic Cleave
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Pricing yourself out of your local market?


More than 75% of our wedding clients book us from outside of the country we live in (Wales in the UK.).

We live in one of the poorest areas of the UK (and worst affected by the economic problems since 2008,) and have found that over recent years our bookings from local couples have all but dried up completely.

That said, we have some amazing wedding venues within (quite literally,) meters of our studio, which attract the clients we target at the upper end of the wedding market, who are prepared to invest heavily in their wedding photography...BUT these couples live in other parts of the UK or overseas.

What's you opinion on continuing to grow our business this way? Are we going to miss out on local referrals? Will couples who live in other parts of the UK or overseas remember to recommend us when their friends/family/work colleagues get engaged (and yes I do travel all over the UK and we have an overseas destination package if required.)

It's working for us at present and we get to work with some fantastic people, but somehow it feels like we're 'missing' something by no-longer attracting couples more local to us?

Thoughts, feelings and general musings appreciated.

Cheers,

Nic



Jul 10, 2012 at 10:26 AM
ricardovaste
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Pricing yourself out of your local market?


Interesting Nic. Do you have any stats on actual referral rates? Perhaps there is a correlation between this and clients from outside your area, travelling from further away in the UK, and those that are outside the UK. I think that could help give you something to work from.

As you're maintaining a good relationship with these venues you like I imagine this should continue to go well for you. I guess the only issue is that the people who run or own venues can sometimes change often, or quite suddenly, meaning you have to re-build relationships. The other question is then how are people picking you as their photographer for the venues they like, and you like - referral from client, venue, advertising, SEO? If you could also isolate this then perhaps you could work out a plan to make it more sustainable, if it isn't already.

Just passing musings, take them with a pinch of salt...



Jul 10, 2012 at 11:07 AM
Nic Cleave
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Pricing yourself out of your local market?


Thanks Rich,

Much of our web-traffic is local, due to the heavy SEO nature of our blogsite, meaning that when a local couple planning their wedding at local venue 'X' search for "wedding photographer at venue X" we come up in the first 1-4 listings in google for almost all local venues.

This is due to Google realising that we're a local business, near to venue X with good quality original site content on venue X. Trouble is, these couples never get as far as enquiring with us as they visit our 'Investment page' and realise that we're way out of most of their budgets.

Flip-side is of course, that when couples from outside the area search for a photographer at their venue, they too find us. This is where most of our bookings come from, with the other half being these same couples seeing our high quality albums and wall displays in the venues themselves, and perhaps on an approved vendors list, given to them by the coordinator at the venue.

But as you said, staff change at the venues at alarming rates, so these relationships have to be re-built and carefully maintained throughout the years.

We do get some of these couples who live in other parts of the UK coming back to us when they go on to have babies etc, as they will often travel home to Wales for a long weekend and book a newborn session in in advance.

Have to admit though, that despite a carefully explained 'referral scheme', none of these 'foreign' couples has ever resulted in a referral in their local area that has lead to a wedding booking where they live, despite my willingness to travel on request?

Cheers,

Nic



Jul 10, 2012 at 11:33 AM
Chris Beaumont
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Pricing yourself out of your local market?


Hey Nic,

I'm in a vaguely similar position to you, mean income in this area is 10,000 below the UK average, wedding photographers even with high street stores are charging 300 or 15 for a portrait session with prints and I have literally no idea how they can possibly make money at that level.

Luckily for me there's Northampton and Leicester within 40-50 miles that I can aim at.



Jul 10, 2012 at 11:37 AM
Nic Cleave
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Pricing yourself out of your local market?


Hi Chris,

We love where we live but unfortunately it's a very poor area of the UK.

Over the years we've had to make some tough choices. Lower prices to stay competitive with local photographers attracting local couples, or see if we can attract our current target couples from the upper end of the market getting married here, but living outside of the area/country.

Fortunately my work and our level of service has been able to sustain the latter model of business, but it has left us wondering if we're somehow missing out on local business and working with some of the great people we know live in our local area?

As Wales is so sparsely populated, and as we are based between the two biggest cities in the country, we don't have any neighbouring towns or cities to draw from, and English couples seem reluctant to hire a photographer based in Wales, for their wedding in England.

I'm not complaining as things are currently working well for us, but just wondered if there are any other full-time wedding pro's out there in a similar position, or anyone with any thoughts on what we might be missing out on?

Cheers,

Nic



Jul 10, 2012 at 11:47 AM
tobiah
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Pricing yourself out of your local market?


An interesting topic but you should probably ask Why did you increase you prices to start with?

Probably to get nicer wedding venues, work less or other similar reasons?

This is what you're missing out on... If you were priced lower you'd get more bookings most likely and then get more referals.




Jul 10, 2012 at 12:05 PM
ricardovaste
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Pricing yourself out of your local market?


I think Tobiah and yourself point to it... can you have both? You decided to increase prices to get what you want and accepted that this would have some negative impacts in your local market. You're getting enough work now, people are finding you from outside your area, and things seem good.

I think it's good that you're keeping on top of it, and can appreciate why you might feel slightly insecure on the topic. But as long as you keep assessing where and how you're getting your business I think you'll be okay.

Is it simply about you wanting to work with more local people? I'm not sure what else can be done here. If you're going to be perceivably expensive to 90% of the people in your area, then in short I think you'll always be fighting a losing battle. You've found the people that appreciate your work, who happen to mostly live outside of your area, so you can't have everything

I wish I could share a personal insight but as you know I don't have years of experience to share.
Chris Beaumont wrote:
... wedding photographers even with high street stores are charging 300 or 15 for a portrait session with prints .


Did I read that right, 15 for a portrait session



Edited on Jul 10, 2012 at 12:14 PM · View previous versions



Jul 10, 2012 at 12:05 PM
ricardovaste
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Pricing yourself out of your local market?


.

Edited on Jul 10, 2012 at 12:14 PM · View previous versions



Jul 10, 2012 at 12:13 PM
lisy78
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Pricing yourself out of your local market?


I have a friend in Italy who has your exact same problem.

Compounding to that problem is the fact that while he is doing well as the unaffordable local photographer, he's not booked as much as he's willing to be booked.

I suggested to him that he should set up a second wedding photography business that is a lower-end line, in no obvious way connect-able to the primary one - different site, different phone, different name, no studio (he has a studio) that only does shoot and burn (shoot and burn meaning shoot/outsource color correcting/burn disk, deliver ... not you know burn RAW files on the day, give VERBATIM labeled disc) for a significantly lower fee. Do no online seo campaigns, only advertise locally in places where his local peeps will see the advertising.

Sure they will know he's the same guy as the high end studio but that won't harm his brand with his out of town more affluent clients.

He hasn't taken me up on the suggestion yet but he's considering it... so no I can't report back that "OMG that's the holy grail" ... but it's one way to target two markets.

Seems to work pretty well for Honda and Toyota in the US anyway.



Jul 10, 2012 at 12:13 PM
Nic Cleave
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Pricing yourself out of your local market?


Thanks Lisy78,

It is something we've considered doing in the past few years but figured that ultimately it would make us seem 'greedy' to the local market, and we were afraid it would hurt our reputation that we've worked so hard to build.

As Rich said, we kind of knew this would be the outcome of the situation we're in. We're happy at the moment but sometimes it does feel like that we have to find each and every booking from scratch, as the local referral base just isn't there, and it seems people who live and are getting married in other parts of the UK are reluctant to hire a photographer from outside of their local area/country?

Yes we could always do with more bookings, but I'm happy being 'quiet and comfortable,' instead of being a 'busy and poor' wedding photographer, as so many seem willing to be these days.

Cheers,

Nic




Jul 10, 2012 at 12:21 PM
 

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tobicus
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Pricing yourself out of your local market?


I understand where you're coming from, and you definitely have to choose, or the choice gets made for you, in terms of whether to shoot for less locally or for more nationally and globally.


Jul 10, 2012 at 01:33 PM
pinktutu
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Pricing yourself out of your local market?


To add to lisy's, you could also consider an associate program and target lower end markets by having your associates shoot them. You could still remain one business or create a second one but meet clients in the same studio. I don't think you should really consider your local markets thinking you greedy. It's a smart business decision. They do upward and downward market approaches in fashion all the time (old navy > gap > banana republic), as well as in other kinds of businesses.


Jul 10, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Chris Beaumont
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Pricing yourself out of your local market?


ricardovaste wrote:
Did I read that right, 15 for a portrait session


Yup....with a 10x8 and a bunch of 6x4s



Jul 10, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Nic Cleave
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Pricing yourself out of your local market?


Chris, they aren't making money which is why so many are closing every week.

The rise of 'discount' websites in the UK like Groupon has speeded up the demise of high street portrait studios, as they all continue to fight each other to to see who can give 100% off and include 20 10 x 8's as well!

But to be honest, high street portrait studios were already killing themselves with massive price decreases and 'offers' just to get people across the door.

It's a shame, but a sign of the times I'm afraid in the UK, where so many people now place little, if any value, on professional photography.

Cheers,

Nic



Jul 10, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Chris Beaumont
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Pricing yourself out of your local market?


Nic,

A week ago I would have argued with you that the guy offering that has been open for as long as I've lived in the town (25+ years) so he must be making money.......but he's literally just moved from a prime high street premises to some pokey little shop tucked away down an alley, presumably because he wasn't making enough to keep the big shop open anymore.

Personally I think a lot of the blame has to go to places like Venture with the "free photo session" push they're ALWAYS doing, then using high-pressure sales afterwards to make you spend big money on prints, the public now has the mindset of "PAY for a photo session??"

Just my 2 cents anyway.



Jul 10, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Nic Cleave
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Pricing yourself out of your local market?


Totally agree with you Chris.

Venture have been the best advertising for our location-based portrait business.

If our portrait families haven't already had a wedding photography experience with us, we often find that they have Venture frames in the house from their last visit to a high street portrait studio.

I wonder why they don't go back a second tme

Cheers,

Nic



Jul 10, 2012 at 03:59 PM
lisy78
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Pricing yourself out of your local market?


pinktutu wrote:
To add to lisy's, you could also consider an associate program and target lower end markets by having your associates shoot them. You could still remain one business or create a second one but meet clients in the same studio. I don't think you should really consider your local markets thinking you greedy. It's a smart business decision. They do upward and downward market approaches in fashion all the time (old navy > gap > banana republic), as well as in other kinds of businesses.


I like pinktutu's outfit a lot better than mine. No wait... not her outfit... the idea . An associate program would be an excellent way to allow your business to keep roots in the community... plus you'd give a job to a local photographer, it's less work than two different business... it's a way to scale... it's good in 19 different ways.

Shocking that I didn't suggest that considering that I'm associating with someone else !!!!



Jul 10, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Sergio Mottola
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Pricing yourself out of your local market?


i only shoot about 25-30% locally. californians don't blink at my pricing. i don't mind it for now


Jul 10, 2012 at 05:33 PM
BKphotography
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Pricing yourself out of your local market?


I live in Greater Glasgow.

We have some of the most deprived areas and some of the most affuent areas in the UK.

Pricing wise I'm somewhere in the middle which means nobody wants me!




Jul 10, 2012 at 11:07 PM





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