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Helping Clients Buy What They Want And Love It

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Are you wondering why your clients always go for the same disk of JPEGs, or why they don’t seem to like your prices? There might be a very simple solution to this.

Suppose you hopped on a plane for a spur of the moment vacation. Landing in a new city, you look around and realise how many decisions you have to make:

·         Where will you stay that night? Where will you eat dinner? How will you get around? Oops, you didn’t pack everything where will you buy toothpaste?

·         If you took the time to research and weigh every available option to make ‘perfect’ decisions, you’d never get much farther than your hotel. You’d have to use shortcuts to help make decisions quickly and effectively, you see a sign for a hotel chain you’ve patronised before, so you choose it again, a friend once mentioned that restaurant over there, so you try it out. By necessity, you make choices swiftly and move on.

We use these kinds of shortcuts daily. Our minds are biased to prioritise certain pieces of information above others, like over-arching ‘rules of thumb’. Generally, this approach saves time and allows us to make satisfactory decisions, particularly when we’re unfamiliar with the choices.

Are you wondering why your clients always go for the same disk of JPEGs, or why they don’t seem to like your prices?

Are you wondering why your clients always go for the same disk of JPEGs, or why they don’t seem to like your prices?

But there is one obvious problem with these shortcuts, you might actually be missing options that would have been better. Like walking right by a fantastic little local boutique hotel that you would have enjoyed even more than the chain hotel.

Whether we like it or not, our photography clients also use these kind of shortcuts when they make buying decisions. And sometimes they’re not choosing the options they’d truly love the most. With this in mind, we can make simple changes in the way we present information to help them make better choices. Even small tweaks can mean the difference between our clients getting the products they really want and need versus settling for something else.

Let’s look at two such mental shortcuts and consider how we might revise our offerings to help clients be happier with what they choose:

Shortcut #1: compare everything against the first number you see

People tend to grab onto the first piece of information they encounter and weigh everything else against it. This is known as anchoring.

For example, if you asked people to estimate what 5x4x3x2x1 would equal, their estimate would probably be much higher than if you asked them to estimate Ix2x3x4x5, Even though the real answer would be the exact same for both, their estimate will be larger or smaller based on that ‘anchor’ created by the first number they saw.

This ‘anchor your opinions to the first number you see’ shortcut comes into play when clients look at pricing. This affects both how they interpret your offerings, and how they feel about their final choice.

This affects both how they interpret your offerings, and how they feel about their final choice.

compare everything against the first number you see

Most photographers have a few ‘packages’ that clients can choose from. Generally speaking, the first price clients see will influence their perception of what they see next. Listing your least expensive package first may seem like a good way to ease ‘sticker shock,’ but it might actually enhance ‘sticker shock’ because they will be comparing all other packages to that first, lowest price. Particularly when there are significant price changes between packages.

If you list your biggest package first and then show progressively smaller packages, the client may end up buying a slightly larger package than they otherwise would. This is simply because the first number they saw anchored their expectations of price differently, and they felt more okay with choosing a larger package.

This isn’t to suggest that we should manipulate people into spending more money. Rather, we want people to get the package that is truly right for them. Often, people choose a less expensive package simply because of a gut reaction against jumping up in price, even though it would have bought them what they truly wanted and needed. Stepping down in price often feels better than stepping up.

Reversing the order of presentation can dramatically change how they feel even when they’d buy the same thing anyway. If they bought a middle package, having seen the least expensive package first might make them feel they’re ‘spending more’, whereas listing the most expensive first might make them feel like they’re ‘saving money’. People generally prefer the latter, and it makes them feel more confident and satisfied with their decisions.

Shortcut #2: when feeling overwhelmed, cling to the familiar

Some photographers work to create a list of beautiful products, including gorgeous albums and stunning canvas prints. Then they scratch their heads when the client ignores all that and insists on buying a simple disc of JPEGs.

There are legitimate reasons to want a disc of images, of course, but sometimes this is just a shortcut decision. Even though we are familiar with our own products, our clients often have no idea what the difference between a ‘float wrap’ and a ‘canvas wrap’ would be. As they scan our list of products, they may feel overwhelmed by all these foreign choices.

when feeling overwhelmed, cling to the familiar

when feeling overwhelmed, cling to the familiar

Then their eyes land on something familiar: a disc of images. Finally, something they understand. They deal with JPEGs regularly. They know how they work, they know what to do with them and how to display them. But a 20x30 canvas? That’s a little scarier. They don’t know if it’ll really be the right size. They feel paralysed by choosing just one image they don’t want to pick the wrong one. They don’t do this very often, after all. Besides, what if their little Johnny climbs the sofa and scribbles on it with a permanent marker? There goes their investment. They’d rather scurry back to the safe and familiar JPEG,

One reason people use the shortcut of familiarity is that they tend to care more about potential losses than potential gains. Even if they agree that the 20x30 is a beautiful option, they worry about what they might miss out on choosing the wrong image, or what might happen to it Johnny and his permanent marker.

In short, the potential losses weigh more powerfully on their decision than the potential gain of having a beautiful display on their wall. They’re already familiar with the drawbacks to JPEGs, and they know how to handle them. They don’t want fresh worries or responsibilities that they might not know how to deal with.

One way to increase familiarity with other products is to repeatedly expose your clients to them from the first moment they land on your website through the final sales session. Photographers tend to use most of their site showing off JPEGs of session images. Thus, it’s no surprise when that’s what clients want to buy; that’s what they’re used to seeing. But when we take the time to regularly blog about our other products showing pictures of happy clients looking through albums, or sitting with a cup of tea underneath a gorgeous wall gallery people start to imagine what it would be like to have those products. We can give them samples to hold, they can more easily envision what it would look like in their own homes. With repeated exposure, they start to feel like it’s a safer, less unknown option.

Overall, our goal isn’t just to sell clients products, but to make sure they’re thrilled with what they receive. We can work with natural decision making strategies to make buying choices more intuitive and less intimidating. Understanding the principles of anchoring and familiarity will enable clients to not only make better choices, but feel better while making them.

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