How to deal with customers who ask for discounts

One of the questions that comes up while discussing pricing is discounts. Discounts are often a difficult issue for photographers, whose product is art. You need to decide upfront how to deal with discounts. More importantly you need to value your work in order to price what to sell. In the past we have touched the pricing discussion, also underlying why you should have your price written black on white.
Today we will be dealing with discounts, and how to make sure you can hold your grounds.

Value VS Cost

The value of your photographs and the cost of the paper they are printed on is not the same thing. If this is not already, it should become your mantra. Faby and I are not in the business of selling photographic paper, or pages of albums. We sell emotions through photographs. This is something you should really keep in your mind. This means that the value of your photographs is not directly linked to the cost of the material they are going to be printed on.
Business books will tell you that you should price your products at least X time more than you pay for them. This is something else, that you can apply to your products or not. What we are talking about today is the fact that you need to understand the value of the images you capture.

Discounts

There are various ideas about discounts. For some photographers discounts are the way of attracting more people. For other photographers, discounts are just wrong. In general we side with the seconds. If you worked out your prices well, if you gave your art a value, then you should focus on selling it to those who, in paying your fees, appreciate the value of your art.
We have a flexible has on discounts, though, especially when customers spend over a certain amount. Maybe we don’t give them additional discount, but we offer them more photographs.
In our perspective, giving discounts on price means discounting your art. This is something we are not willing to accept. What we see as win-win situation is to offer some of our art for free. Discount a product and it loses value, but sell them, and add some additional for free and the price remains the same.

Stick to your guns

It does not matter if you want to provide a pricing list being ready to discount it, or if you don’t do discounts. What matters is that you know your rule and you stick to them. If you give a maximum of 50% discount, don’t give 51%. If you don’t discount your photographs, simply don’t do it.
Sometimes it will feel difficult to say “I am sorry, this are our prices, we don’t discount them, as we feel they are worth it“. It will feel as if you are ready to let go of a customer. Our point here is that if you lose a customer just because you did not give them a discount, then they are not your customers.

Stick to your customers

It is extremely important that you realise who your customers are. More importantly, you should always remember who your customers are not. For us, price shoppers, who pick their photographers based on the lowest bidder, are not our customers. Our customers value our photographs for what they show, for the way we treat them, for the photographers we are. If we are too expensive, they will purchase a smaller amount of photographs.
People who enquire and complain about the lack of discount are the ones who will never be fully satisfied. If we gave them 25% discount, they would come to us for the saving, not for the photographs.
Stick to your customers, know who they are, and remember that whoever is not your customer, is not a lost revenue or a missed opportunity. They are missed headaches.

Be truthful, gentle and fearless

Whenever we are asked about discounts, we follow this simple quote from Gandhi:
Be truthful, gentle and fearless
Tell your customers the truth. Tell them about the value of what you produce, the hours that goes behind a shoot and why you price yourself in a certain way.
Be gentle. Don’t expect people to know what’s behind your work, but be always kind.
Be fearless. If you are going to lose them because of discounts not given, they were never your customers.

After all you should always be proud of your value as photographer, as artist and as business person. Don’t let a discount get in your way!

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