Marketing lesson #6: price is marketing

Every once in a while, there is an article or a story of a photographer who complains about clients lowballing them or that photographers don’t get paid fairly.

This is a marketing problem.

“Marketing changes your pricing. Pricing changes your marketing.”

Seth Godin, This is Marketing

This means that the price you ask depends on what you offer (and the other way around). What is the story you tell?

If you offer high-quality luxury service, then your prices should reflect that. It’s not just the physical or digital pictures you take or your years of experience that make the high price. It’s everything. Your emotional labour, your respect, your caring about the customer, all the way to the packaging and paper you use. Essentially you are offering more than a service. You provide an experience.

It’s okay to charge a lot of money if you’re able to provide a “change” in your client. We’re all in a journey of transformation. We seek transformation. If you can give that to someone, you’re golden.

“Low price is the last refuge of a marketer who has run out of generous ideas.”

Seth Godin, This is Marketing

According to Godin, lowering the price has further implications: “Lowering your price doesn’t make you more trusted. It does the opposite.” This is because people rationalize spending a lot of money by making up a story and a low price takes that story away.

Obviously, before you can charge a lot of money, you need trust. The more money you ask, the more trust you need. Would you buy 500 dollar sneakers from an unknown brand? Would you buy a (cheaper) generic brand of Coke for a house party? Most people will not. Because they don’t trust these brands.

Over the years Erik Kim has given away a lot of value in terms of literally thousands of blog articles, videos and dozens of e-books for free. He also charges a lot of money for his workshops. He can do it because he has trust. Because he can offer an experience.

According to the Veblen good, the more something costs, the more people want it.

Of course, not everyone can afford what they want, but that’s not even necessary. As Erik has pointed out, he only needs a handful of students a year to make a decent living.