At one time or another we’ve all received this call. Usually the conversation goes something like this:
Client: “We have a project coming up, we saw your website and absolutely love your work. We’re looking for a photographer we can build a relationship with.”
Me: “That’s great, thanks for the compliment, tell me a bit about your project.”
The client gives you the details, closing with, “And as you probably know, we’re a non-profit, so please give us your non-profit rate.”
It’s at about this time I want to blurt out in response to their, “but we’re a non-profit”: “WELL, I’M NOT!”
But I stay calm, not wanting to look like a jerk, and knowing that when people move from company to company, they take their address books with them and the next time this person calls, she may really have a budget. Here’s how I handle these calls and what I say next. (By the way, I want to give credit where credit is due, but I’m not sure where I picked this up, but it may have been my photo pal Joe Pobereskin or Chicago photographer Marc Hauser.) BJD: Joe has indicated in the comments that it is Marc’s method.
If it’s a charity that I care about, here’s my offer: “I’m glad you called me Mr. Client because I do indeed have a special fee set up for charities such as yours. I work for half price! And here’s how it works. We’ll work together for your next six photo projects. The first time, I’m going to charge you 100-percent of my customary fee. The next time, 80-percent. The next time 60-percent. Next 40-percent. The next, 20-percent. And the sixth time, I’m not going to bill you a penny.”
I continue, “If you do the math, that works out to half price. And it works out great for both of us, you get quality photography at a below-market rate, and I have an opportunity to create great images for each of us. How does that sound?”
You’ve offered the client what he wants and you’re very much looking like a good guy. But not a fool. If he takes you up on the offer, your fee is front-loaded… in other words, you’re smart enough to know that if you worked for half price right out of the box, he may use you once, then move on to another photographer. If I’m going to give up part of my fee, I’d at least like to build some sort of a relationship with both the charity and its patrons.
Its patrons? Yes, that’s where the potential lies in the deal. I want to be seen more than once at the charity’s events. Charity fund-raisers almost always yield more clients if you work the room; after all, everyone present at a charity function is a potential client. Introduce yourself, be personable, look professional, and hand out business cards. And the more often they see you at their functions, the more they get to know you, the more trust you’re building.
I’ve made this presentation, and so far, two charities have taken me up on the offer. The jobs were simple, and actually the benefits were very much worth it. I’ve managed to get new clients (one major!) and that’s resulted in more billings for the studio. Think of the “discount” as part of your advertising budget. Anyway, it’s something to consider next time someone calls from a charity fishing for a photographer. Don’t get upset, the person on the other end of the line is just doing his or her job. Instead, make lemonade out of the lemon they are offering!
What do you think? How do you handle these types of calls? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment.
(Check back on Monday, I’ll be kicking off a simple contest for a free copy of my Web Marketing and SEO DVD.)
Photo by Photos8.com, licensed under a Creative Commons License.