The Business of Boudoir »

Anchoring: It’s not just for boats.

business of boudoir photographyPINImagine you’re walking through the mall, and you spot a gorgeous pair of leather boots in a shop window. You take a look at the price tag and “ouch!” They’re $500! That’s far more than you’re willing to spend, so you keep walking.

Now imagine that you spot those same boots, wander over, and instead see a price tag that reads $2,000. Before you can leave, a salesperson mentions, “Those boots are actually 75 percent off right now! They’re on sale for only $500.” Suddenly, that looks like an amazing deal. $2,000 boots for only $500? How can you pass that up? Those boots are going home with you, no questions asked.

What you’ve just experienced is a concept called “anchoring”, and if you’re not using it to your advantage, you’re leaving money on the table.

The concept of anchoring deals with the fact that, in general, the first price a potential customer sees on a product becomes anchored in their mind as the appropriate price to pay. $500 seems like far too much money to pay for boots when presented by itself, but when told the boots actually cost $2000, suddenly $500 seems extremely cheap.

In the same way, a client is likely to experience sticker shock when presented with an $1,800 price tag on an album. But if she encounters a $3,000 collection first, then suddenly $1800 feels much more reasonable. And when she goes back to the $3,000 collection and sees that it includes that same $1800 album, and that thanks to the collection discount she’s actually paying only $1200 for it? Why, that seems like a bargain! You’ve just sold that $3,000 collection, thanks in large part to careful use of anchoring. You’ve managed her expectations, made a large sale, and she still feels she’s gotten a great deal. Everyone walks away happy.

So how can you put anchoring to work for you? Two simple ways: the pre-session consult, and menu design.

Anchoring at the pre-session consult

During your conversation with your client prior to her session, one of the things you should be discussing is pricing. (If you’re not, that’s an issue for another post.) When this comes up, you may be tempted to present your potential client with the lower end of your average sales range or menu selections so as not to scare her off. That’s a legitimate concern, but in doing so you’re also anchoring her at that lower price point, which could come back to bite you later.

One way to solve both concerns is to present your client with a few numbers, not so many as to be overwhelming but enough to anchor her properly without scaring her away. For example, “My average client spends between $1,800-$2,000 on her prints and products, and our menu has items that range from $800 to $3,000.” You’ve anchored her at your “happy point” sale amount, but given her conscience that $800 amount to ease her fears.

Anchoring through menu design

Studies have shown that the human eye follows predictable patterns when reading menus: On a two-page menu, we look first at the middle of the right page, then at the top left, bottom left, top right, and bottom right, in that order. Knowing this, you can place your Collections on the right-hand side of your menu, and a la carte options on the left.

Here’s a real-world example: I used to have my menu designed the opposite way, collections on the left and a la carte on the right. I talked through the collections with every client that walked in the door, emphasized them at the sales session, and highlighted the amount of money they’d save with the collection discount. I never sold one. Not a single one. I switched the menu pages a few months ago—no other changes at all, just swapped which side was which—and every single client since the change has purchased a collection. I don’t know about you, but I find that pretty conclusive.

Try out anchoring for yourself, and let us know how it goes!

Meghan Garner

Meghan Garner is a Bryan, TX based boudoir photographer whose camera travels with her around the world. She is a Certified Professional Photographer known for her intimate, emotional photographic style.

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  • October 1, 2014 - 9:46 AM

    Elizabeth Zimmerman - Nice! Love this!

    So, as of right now I only offer a la carte… I guess I should consider collections now.

    Do you recommend any blog posts/tools that would help with that endeavor?ReplyCancel

    • October 9, 2014 - 6:14 PM

      Meghan Garner - That’s a great question! Many of the wonderful contributing authors here offer mentoring workshops (Petra Herrmann and Stacey Ingram come to mind) that including pricing and menu building as part of the class. I also intend to continue writing on the theme of pricing, so I’ll keep this in mind for a future post. And finally, several classes on Creative Live (Jen Rozenbaum and Christa Meola’s especially) offer insight into collection/package pricing for our industry.

      The most important thing to keep in mind is that your pricing has to be your own and has to make sense to you and your brand. Otherwise you’re never going to be able to explain it well, and you’re not going to have the conviction it takes to really sell it.ReplyCancel

  • October 13, 2014 - 3:14 PM

    Petra Herrmann - Word up! Truth! Sing it, sister! You have to create it in order to know it!

    Meghan, you’ll find this interesting… without knowing why or that I should, the layout you described, is exactly how I have my product and pricing guide set up. EXACT ORDER/PLACEMENT.

    I must have ESPN, uhh.. ESP … or PMS?ReplyCancel

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