While it’s more than possible that a first-time photographer may have to offer a few discounts to get through the door, to those who have been in business longer than 1 year, I must say to you… stop discounting your future self! Many photographers often jump to offer discounts as a means of gaining more business, but do discounts help acquire clients? Or do they actually speak more about your quality (or potential lack thereof ?) than you’re intending? As part of my Blogs for Photographers series of articles, I want to touch on the insanely huge topic of discounts and help shed some light onto my thoughts and feelings about discount photography services.
Don’t constantly offer discounts. If you’re offering a different “promotion” every 2 weeks and rarely, if ever, selling goods at your regular rates then you’re simply selling your regularly priced items too high. Furthermore, constant discounts can also cause long-term clients (as well as those who have been following you on social media as they deliberate hiring you) to lose faith in you. Why? Businesses those who feel the need to constantly discount their services are inadvertently telling their fans that they cannot retain or acquire clients on pure quality or produce and service alone; they need a “gimmick” to get clients.
Discounts should be applied as a means of rewarding current customers; not acquiring new ones. If you’re providing quality services, there’s no reason to need a discount to get people through the door. If you want to offer discounts, consider doing do as a loyalty program – but never as a means of attracting new clients. Clients attracted on a discount will never purchase any add-ons at full price or book again (in the case of portraits) unless another discounts comes up. Once a discount, always a discount – and how does that reflect on your business? Read the last paragraph over again.
Discounts during peak-season make you look desperate. There’s a time and a place for discounts if you feel like discounts still need to make an appearance in your business. In the wedding industry, some photographers provide winter wedding discounts as it’s typically a slower season and the discounts are an added incentive to get a client to book. Others photographers provide weekday wedding discounts for the same reason that they may provide off-season discounts. If you’re providing discounts during your peak season, however, you’re making a bad business move! By providing discounts during peak season, you’re telling your friends, fans, colleagues and potential clients that you can’t book up – even during busy times! Who would want to hire a wedding photographer who can’t even book up their summer without throwing in a gimmick? Very few people -that’s who!
If you feel like you have to discount your services or offer promotions to get clients through the door, I strongly suggest you take a step back and analyze the actual quality of your work. While you may be producing some good images, if you were to put half the effort into producing great images that you put into running discount campaigns, you’d start to see that discounts won’t be necessary anymore.