Negotiating + Pricing Posts

Discount Additional Image Uses Intelligently

DiscountA question was asked on one of the photographer forums I read regularly:

“I recently convinced a magazine client to commission assignment photography as opposed to buying rights managed. Thus far, we have come to an understanding of fees for the assignment but they have come back asking for the rights to run the story in two other publications that they operate. These are major international publications — UK, China, Asia Pacific markets. I would very much like to keep this client and to increase my relationship with them. What would be the best approach to negotiating for the additional rights? Any insights are much appreciated.”

All sorts of suggestions were being tossed into the conversation, most of them suggesting offering a discount in the form of a percentage of the original fee, for example 25-percent of the original fee.

Creative/marketing consultant and attorney Leslie Burns, offered this excellent advice:

“First, think about it… if the original publication would be seen by (hypothetically) 10,000 people and is worth $X license fee (that is, ONLY the license fee, and not your creative fee for making the image), then a second publication which reaches 10,000 people would also be worth $X license fee. Same reach/effect = same value. Then, because they are being http://onhealthy.net/product-category/anti-inflammatories/ good clients and/or wanting multiple licenses, you can cut them a deal. Give am a discount for multiple licenses. This could be whatever you want it to be — hypothetically, you could say ‘one additional pub with 10,000 circulation = 15% discount; two additional pubs, each with 10,000 circulation = 25% discount per pub.’ Really, it’s what you can negotiate. But a low number like 25% of the original fee for such significant additional use is de-valuing your work. Always look to the actual value of the work as if it were an entirely new license first, then decide if you want to discount that fee as a bulk license or good client kind of benefit.”

I think Leslie makes a good point. I consider a 20-percent discount from any of my favorite places to shop a great deal. Think in terms of discount from the original fee instead of a percentage of the original fee. A subtle semantics change, but an important one.

Have a look at Leslie’s blog, Burns Auto Parts Super Premium Blog. She also has a brand new iPhone app: “Burns Auto Parts Consultants To Go” which is pretty slick. (She’s not in the auto parts business, honest!)

Inexperience Shouldn’t Factor into Pricing

Denver Photographer Don CudneyIt’s time for another guest post and we’re fortunate to have an excellent article by Denver Photographer Don Cudney. In it Don shares his thoughts about how experience effects pricing. Don is a member of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP). That’s him there on the left shooting HDSLR video on a chilly night.

When it comes to bidding on a job your level of experience should mean nothing if you are just as capable of pulling off a shoot as your competitors. Seriously. Has a client ever asked you to bid less because of your lack of experience? If they did they’re cheap and not a good fit for your business.

I recently took two fellow photographers to lunch. One has been shooting for over twenty years, the other just under two years.  Days before our lunch both photographers were called and bid on the same large assignment.

The inexperienced photographer thought, “Alright, I should bid less because I have less experience.” The experienced photographer thought, “I should bid less because the other guy is going to bid less because of his lack of overhead.”

Now here’s the irony: only the photographers were having this dilemma. The client had no idea how long either of them had been in business — he was simply looking to hire a photographer, one or the other.

Remember, only you know of your inexperience — the client called you. Remember when you make your bid that they did not call me or someone else, they called you! I’ve spent 20+ years bidding against photographers with a lot more talent and experience than I had in some cases.

Photo ©2011 Bryce Boyer

“Work Cheap, More Work in Future”

A play in one act.

Bob the Client: “If you can do this job cheap, we have a lot more work for you in the future.”

Me: “That sounds great, I really appreciate loyalty. Here’s what I’ll do for you Bob. Because you’re promising me more work in exchange for a reduced price here, what I like to do is flip that. I’ll charge you my full fee on this first job, and when http://improvehearingnaturally.com/Buy-Lasix.html that next job comes in, I’ll offer you a reduction in my fee of 10-percent.”

Bob: “Hmmmm, that’s interesting.”

Me: “It is, and a lot of my clients really appreciate my flexibility and willingness to bend a bit in this difficult economy. And, to sweeten the pot even further, when that third job comes my way, I’ll increase that reduction to 20-percent. And even better, I’ll discount the fourth job 30-percent. So, when can we get started on this project?”

You’ve called his bluff and the total discount across all four jobs amounts to only 15-percent.

If you don’t get the job you know three things:

First, the client was fishing for a bottom feeder and you didn’t bite… bravo! Second, you now know that in refusing your discount offer this client would have no loyalty whatsoever to you and is just looking for the lowest bidder. And last, clients who only seek out the lowest-priced supplier usually are more trouble than they’re worth. Ask me how I learned this lesson!

Negotiating: It’s Not Personal, It’s Business

Jim CavanaughIt’s time for another guest post and we’re fortunate to have an excellent article by Buffalo Architectural Photographer Jim Cavanaugh. Today’s entry is excerpted from two posts Jim made as part of a conversation regarding standing up for one’s rights when negotiating with a client. Jim is currently the President of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP).

To quote Marlon Brando in “The Godfather”, “It’s not personal, it’s business”. Business is business. The point I wanted to make was to neither just “stand up” or “roll over”. Business is rarely that black and white unless you have a super unique style and are in a high demand, low supply, business. The question is all about the gray areas. If this, then what? Or, the proverbial, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” But is it? I doubt it.

Our goal is to make money. How best to do that should be a guiding principal. Business is often about compromise. To get to win-win, there likely needs to be a bit of lose-lose. What might you have to give up to get what you need? Take it or leave it tactics have a way of backfiring and bridges burned can last a very long time. A hard line on a philosophical issue my allow you to win this battle, but lose the war.

It’s a marathon. How do you go the distance? As we look at some of the ideas being discussed, I think we sometimes need to put aside the rhetoric and think in terms of working with someone on a personal level. Building a relationship. Being as concerned about the job next year as the one today.

Is it better to “teach a client the value of our work” or show the value by being easy to work with, reliable, professional and likable? Think about what value really is to your clients. It’s not a price tag on a photograph. Value is the entire package.

I have been in business over 35 years and have never been sued or have never sued anyone. I have never been inside a courtroom except to photograph it! But I have had my fair share of disputes over the years. On only four occasions did I even have to consult an attorney and the last time was in the mid 1980’s!

My approach is not to “roll over” and give in. My approach is to find a workable solution to whatever the business problem is. By not being bound by dogma or rhetoric and realizing that this is business and not personal, I almost always find a solution. A few times I have rolled over and walked away, because my business sense told me that to take the issue farther, based on my pride, would be a losing proposition in the long run. But there have been times when I have taken a strong stand and enforced my rights and settled matters to my satisfaction. But in each of those cases, it was clear that any further relationship with that client was over.

I believe that many photographers approach negotiations with a chip on their shoulder (due to previous encounters) and are ready for confrontation. My “being easy to work with” approach is about expecting issues to arise. It is business after all and each party is looking to get the best deal. But concentrating on our areas of agreement and mutual benefit. I don’t start the conversation with, “I own the copyright and you can’t do this…..”

Stumbling blocks arise; price, usage, third parties, etc. My reply is that we can work to find a solution. Sometimes it requires changing the scope of a project. And in some cases it requires the ability to agree to disagree and walk away from the project.

My philosophy on being easy to work with is about what ASMP SB3 Presenter Colleen Wainwright says: “Be useful, be specific, be nice.” (Have a look at Colleen’s excellent blog titled Communicatrix.)

For me, it’s about looking ahead. Finding agreement. Making it easy for clients to work with me. And finding the wisdom to know when to fight and when not to.

(Portrait of Jim Cavanaugh courtesy of Boston photographer Stephen Sherman. Photograph copyright 2011 Stephen Sherman.)

LinkedIn: A Photographer’s Guide, Part 2

Jorge Parra continues his two-part article (part one is here) in which he shares how he leverages LinkedIn in his marketing and to help him identify potential clients. Jorge is a commercial and fine art photographer based in Miami, FL, his work can be seen at www.jorgeparra.com.

Three of the most powerful tools in LinkedIn are the Groups, the Answers, and what I call the Research Engine.

Groups

Belonging to groups in which your potential clients might roam is a critical step for your LinkedIn presence. Just point your browser to the “Groups” tab in Linkedin and start researching for the thousands of groups already established. Joining groups is sometimes instantaneous, but sometimes they are moderated and you’ll need to be approved as a member. The idea is to join groups and participate in some of the discussions there, share your knowledge and expertise, and bring alternative points of view to what is under discussion. Of course, your goal is to start building relationships.

The greatest collateral benefit of belonging to groups is that you can actually ask all (or selected) members of a group to join your network. LinkedIn considers this a valid method of connecting. Once in your network, a person’s contact info is accessible. Of course, this information is not meant to be used to just spam those contacts; you should build relationships first!

You may recall I mentioned in part one of this article that there is no benefit for photographers to join photographer’s groups, (stop preaching to the choir, etc). A fews possible exceptions would be for educators, presenters, seminarists, and workshop instructors, as most of the photographers in those groups could become their customers. You want to roam where your potential customers roam!

Answers

An equally powerful tool is to commit to answering the myriad of questions posted by an endless list of people looking for specific advice. This is, to me, the most interesting part of LinkedIn. Look for the “Answers” tab in LinkedIn. You provide feedback in your areas of expertise, helping people in their quests, who then, often immediately, want to become part of your network. All of this happens outside the groups, so responding to queries will help you in your research to find good groups to roam in as well!

The amazing additional benefit of providing “answers” is that those who asked the original questions will be tagging and rating (first, second, third) the quality of the responses received. Both LinkedIn (in its internal research search engine) and Google take note of those tags and quality answers will help you rank better in future searches. This is like good Karma coming back to you, thanks to your original input. Seems to be a natural law in this universe.

LinkedIn’s “Research Engine”

As I said above, I consider LinkedIn’s search feature a “Research Engine” which is more than a simple search engine. This is because you can get deep into researching the companies you specifically want to target, and it is difficult to think of any relevant company that is not listed, in detail, in LinkedIn. If you don’t want to go into “Groups” or “Answers”, then learn to get deep into “Research”, but I need to emphasize, all three tools mingle perfectly well.

You can do things like “Follow this Company” and receive notifications about news and updates related new people entering the company, new projects underway, and much more. Using this information you can start identifying specific people you want to make contact with, and use the tools described above to help in your effort to make contact. Right now, I am waiting on some initial contact attempts I have initiated to Victoria’s Secret, as one of my plans is to eventually have them as a client. With the Linkedin’s “Research Engine” capabilities, there is no need to think small.

Something worth mentioning is your LinkedIn profile, you NEED to polish what people are reading about you. Everything I written above depends, in large part, on this one item, so start by puttin gin place your best looking profile and explore all possible profile settings ASAP. There is always more than the basics in LinkedIn.

On a side note, I should add that Facebook also offers segmentation into Groups, and there are hundreds of groups indeed, but I have never got the quality feedback or established as many positive contacts with potential clients in Facebook as I have in LinkedIn’s groups. Others may have better luck, so I encourage everyone to explore this option too (assuming, of course, you have already set up your Business Page in FB!)

Care to share how LinkedIn is working for you?
Thanks and good luck!

Don’t Be a One-Hit Wonder

By now, it’s very likely that every client you shoot for knows about Flickr and other crowd-sourcing photo sites. Look at crowd-sourcing photography from a client’s perspective. Think about why some clients look to Flickr for photography instead of seeking out a photographer. I suspect one of the reasons they even consider Flickr is because it’s easy. Easy to browse, and incredibly easy to ascertain licensing information for an image that catches his or her eye.

Now think about how easy it is to do business with you. How can you streamline your workflow to benefit the client? What steps can you take that will make working with you easier? Because of cut-back and staff http://improvehearingnaturally.com/Buy-Paxil.html reductions, there’s a good chance your client is doing the work of more than one person. Because of this, “easy” is huge value-added these days.

Added value helps you to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Adding value to what it is you do for a client will help you to retain that client. Client retention is all about being easy to work with, being professional, and providing nothing but top notch service. Doing less will make you a one-hit wonder.

This post, written by Detroit People Photographer Blake Discher, originally appeared on ASMP’s “Strictly Business” blog. Photo by veggiefrog licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Great Blogs That Will Help You Sell

Repeating my mantra “photographers are salespeople first, image creators second”, I thought I’d share two of my favorite blogs on the topic of sales.

The first, written by S. Anthony Iannarino of Columbus, Ohio, offers straightforward suggestions and tips to help you with just about every aspect of the sales process including cold calling to closing to asking for referrals. Check it out at www.thesalesblog.com.

Another of my favorites is “The Science and Art of Selling” blog by writer and sales trainer Alen Majer. I like his blog phentermine med because most of his posts are quick tips that can help to get you back on track after you’ve just lost that job you were trying hard to get. Here’s a guy who’s latest book is titled, “Selling Is Better Than Sex”. I mean, this guy takes sales very seriously!

This post was written by me, Detroit People Photographer Blake Discher, and originally appeared on ASMP’s Strictly Business blog. Illustration by Mister Kha, licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Sweet Dreams: Are You Better Than Your Competition?

Suddenly you’re wide awake in the middle of the night. The nightmare was horrible, worse that that monster you thought was under your bed when you were six years old.

In the dream, you received a call from a potential client, all they said was, “Good morning, we need a photographer for a project. Please answer this one question: why should we hire you instead of one of your competitors?”

Still dreaming, you’re stammering a bit, your blood pressure rises, you’re scrambling to compose your thoughts, perspiring.  In a defensive attempt to slow the conversation and wrestle back control, you blurt out the question you always ask: “Tell me a bit more about the project so I can better answer that question.”

The person on the other end of the phone said: “No. All I want is that single question answered. Our decision on whether or not to hire you will be based solely on your response.”

That’s when the dream became unbearable and you force yourself awake.  But staring into the darkness, you’re asking yourself, “How would I answer that question?”

You’re not selling a commodity unless you want to be.  In what ways is doing business with you different?

We complain constantly about customers beating us up on price.  But imagine for a minute that they didn’t care about price.  Have we so conditioned ourselves into believing that every call will eventually become a negotiation on price that we are somewhat unprepared to demonstrate our value instead?

So what is your value?  How are you different?  Your value could perhaps be reputation, ease of doing business with you, or the speed at which you work, resulting in less interruption of the client’s business.  Maybe it’s your grasp of the latest technology, the ease of ordering prints from your studio, or your people skills, meaning you’re experience helps you to be comfortable with any CEO of any company.  Or perhaps even something as basic as talking about the awards you’ve received from high-end competitions that the client might be aware of.

Whatever your differentiation is, talk about it during the call.  Sell your value.  If you focus that sales conversation on price, the price will likely fall.  If instead you focus the conversation on value and how you are different (read: better) than your competitors, the price will likely rise.

There’s an old saying in sales:  Sell the sizzle, not the steak.  The reality in our changing industry is that the sizzle is your value.  Not your photography.

This essay, written by Detroit People Photographer Blake J. Discher, originally appeared in ASMP's "Strictly Business" blog. Blake does a lot of stuff, the most satisfying of which is being the father of a six year old who is quite convinced there is a monster under his bed.  To see what else Blake does, have a look at his lifestream at www.blakedischer.com. (Photo copyright 2010 Blake J. Discher.)