Thursday, August 07, 2008

[B]Business Day Thursday: 20 Ways To Add Value To Your Business And Your Products

Good Morning Everyone,
I guess I'm kind of on this "business binge" with yesterday's posted podcast and the other posts for today. The reason is that I hear about so many photographers seeing their businesses eroding away and have no clue why or what to do about it. The ImagingInsider is even conducting a poll entitled, "Have You Sold Any Camera Gear To Pay Bills?" [link ] I was shocked by the results - hit the link, I think you will be too.

I mentioned to LaDawn last night that I am on my PhD. quest for the answers, hence the business slant on the posts these last two days. I hope you find some merit in them and the ideas help grow and sustain your own businesses. So what's our main topic today - "20 Ways To Add Value To Your Business And Your Products". Hit the "Read More..." below for the rest of the story.

Don’t lower prices, add value. Many companies are tempted to lower the price of their product or service during tight economic times. But lowering your price tends to hurt your brand, unless you can find a way for the price reduction to make sense to your buyer. If you have to lower prices, do so with a rationale that the market can embrace.

My suggestion in this case is to include some add-ons that, depending on booking levels or final sales totals, do not break the bank but definitely add to the perceived value of what you are selling.

Here are a few examples:

1. Mount Invitation In Wedding Album - no charge. $60

2. Give 10 low res images to the client for their iPod. $100

3. Offer 2 extra hours of coverage - no charge. $400 value

4. Offer a selection of about 50 B&W images for viewing. $50

5. Include one 8x10 B&W framed image from the wedding. $60

6. Include "Engagement" session at no charge. $200

It's always better to add value than to lower the price. Avoid actions that deflate the value of your product. Create new value propositions that make your prices appear lower. Low price alone isn't the only way to win orders in these times and it may be difficult to raise your prices later.

Also, adding value does not have to be about including something for free. Here are some of the best tried and true ways to add perceived value to your product and brand - and it doesn't cost you a cent!

7. Enhance and promote the shooting experience: It's cool and fun to be photographed by Smith Photography.

8. Guarantees: A strong guarantee such as ‘100% satisfaction guarantee’ increases the perceived value of your product.

9. Packaging: Choose colours and type of packaging that makes your product appear more valuable. I talked about this in a recent post entitled, "It's The Little Things That Count." [link]

10. Brand: Create and promote your brand endlessly - even us little guys have to do it. Re-read "60 Ways to Build Your Business." [link]

11. Testimonials: What better proof that your product offers value than customers raving about it! Have a book of testimonials in your reception area, and include them on your printed pieces. Don't have any yet - have your mother write you one, at least she luvs ya' ;~)

12. Benefits: List the benefits of your products and service. This is always a "toughie" for a lot of new businesses. Everything that follows below in this list would be considered a benefit.

13. Booking Bonuses: I don't know why more people don't do this. I've been giving complimentary "engagement sessions" away for years to book the client into a larger coverage. A friend of mine even offers to create a mini-website for his new wedding clients.

14. Gift Cards: Check out Marathon Press - they have great ideas for gift cards and they look cool too. [link]

15. Bundling and packaging: Add stuff to your stuff - if they purchase this, they get that too. If they purchase 50 additional images for the album, include,for example, a framed 8x10 B&W of their favorite image.

16. Frequent buyer programs: I love this one and it sure works for me. LaDawn and I a Frequent buyers members of the Chart House Restaurant. They send us out special promo offers on upcoming birthdays and anniversaries - and we usually take them up on their offers. The more we spend on dinner the more gift dollars we receive quarterly to use on our next visits. Hey, this can work for us small guys too.

17. Dedicated personnel: One customer service person assigned to each client. Maybe you business is too small for this idea, but I think it's a great idea in a larger business. Cheryl's Cookies uses this idea for business clients. LaDawn just calls up her special customer service representative when placing her next order. All records are kept and the representative can make additional suggestions based on previous purchases. It makes the client feel special that one person will always be taking care of them.

18. Speed of service or delivery: My favorite lab, Miller's Lab and MPIX, have built their success on this concept - FAST TURN-A-ROUND is GOOD FOR BUSINESS.

19. Insider information: Specials only to past clients - make them feel special - they are not just another warm body you did business with in the past.
Providing expert advice and a tremendously high level of professionalism: We do this all the time in my studio, always offering the client expert advice in other areas of her wedding planning too. This may include vendor selections, decor ideas, etiquette suggestions for tough family situations, etc.

20. Super High Value and Highly Responsive Customer Service: Be sure that nobody in your town does it better that you. Be sure your business sets the "high water mark" for customer service. We bend over backwards for each and every client in my studio.

It's this kind of pro-active business management that adds the polish, shine, and gloss, the added value that separates you from the competition and enhances your chances of continued success.


  1. David what a great topic considering the economic times we are in and as a follow-up to your inaugural podcast about gen-y'ers. We've started from day one offering free date/bridal sessions and will even do both on occasion, just cause it's fun. But just this year we've raised our price for our printing rights but to offset the "cost" we include 2 WD Passport drives, one for them to play with and another for them to put in a safe deposit box or fireproof box. I can hear people saying how about an iPod, but most if not all gen-y'ers already have at least one and it's usually the latest model. Plus with all that space I can do multiple versions (b/w, sepia, litho, etc) of all of the photographs which just adds tremendous value to the whole experience. Yes, the portables cost a bit but in the end, the experience the customer get is priceless.

  2. Super article David. There's so many neat ways to add value, and sometimes I think we forget that adding a little value can add a lot.

    Just twittered, and I'm off to read the others you linked.

    Keep up the good work... Gavin

  3. That's a great list of ideas. The same thoughts hold true for our commercial photography clients, we've found we need to continually separate ourselves from the competition by creating greater perceived value and, the key that you describe: providing great customer service. Our best form of advertising is good word of mouth so we put every effort into leaving customers with nothing but good things to say. It makes a huge difference.