We’ve seen how cost based pricing can ensure a profit from each sale but ignores the competitive landscape. And we’ve seen how competitive based pricing can ensure you are, well.., competitive by being priced on par with your competition but fails to consider costs. The last method we’ll look at departs from these previous methods by focusing on the customer. In particular, the value that a customer perceives your product to possess.
So to recap:
Cost Based = Focus on product
Competitive Based = Focus on Competitors
Value Based = Focus on Customers
I’m sure you’ve been to a gallery where photographs sell for $1,000 or more. Why can these sell for so much while others sell for so little? It’s because the customers that purchase these images believe that they are worth the premium. And the reason they believe that they are worth more is a result of the marketing strategy to position the photographers work.
Let’s take a look at a few tactics to support this strategy of creating higher value for your work. These tactics are:
- Sales Channels
Scarcity: Using the idea that there is a finite amount of the artwork can compel your customers to take action (purchase your work) as well as increase their willingness to pay. The most obvious way to achieve this is through the use of limited editions. If you limit the number of printings of a particular image to say 1,000, 500 or 100 then the customer knows that there is a limited opportunity to purchase this piece. Even the use of a relatively high number like 1,000 makes your customer think about the finite nature of the chance to buy.
Premium: In order to command a premium price you must offer a premium experience. You can’t hope to sell an 8×10 print in an Ikea frame for a premium price. You need to think big. Make that a 3, 4 or 5 foot print on high quality paper with a great frame or mount. Think about this being a show piece, something your customer is proud to display in their home and to their friends. You’re not just selling your photograph you’re selling the ownership experience. If it can create a conversation with those seeing it, that is usually worth quite a bit.
Sales Channels: Where you sell it can have a big influence on how much you can sell it for. If you are looking to get $40 for your work then you’ll want to look at art fairs, online photography sites, such as Fine Art America, 500px, SmugMug, Etsy or even on the street. You wouldn’t, and couldn’t, sell that same print through a fine art gallery. On the other hand, if you want to sell your work for $4,000 you wouldn’t even think of these previous channels because they don’t attract the type of buyer you are looking for. You would need to be in galleries or corporate art collections, sell to high-end designers and through personal connections or word of mouth to people how spend money on art. If a certain channel attracts a customer with a spending threshold that is below your desired price you want to look for other places to sell.
Fame: There’s no getting around this one. The more you are known the more you can charge. It’s certainly a bit tricky as you may not have a lot of control over it. But one thing that you can do is start entering, and winning, photo competitions, get published in magazines, make friends with curators in galleries, get to know the fine art scene and embed yourself in it. The more you can become known the more chance you have to sell your work for a higher price. It’s by no means easy but ultimately if you get the right sponsor, you can start naming your price.
There is no simple formula to selling at a premium and you need to be able to justify why what you’re selling is worth the extra amount. But when you can articulate it using some of the tactics above you are on your way to achieving the success you desire.
One last thing before I wrap up, I want to point out that the above tactics don’t necessarily need to be used to sell your prints for thousands of dollars. You can also use them to differentiate yourself from your competition even if your selling for $50. For instance, if you are selling nature photos at an art fair where the average price is $25, you can say it’s a limited edition and as a result it should be $50 or you can use a slightly nicer frame or mounting to justify the higher price. It’s all in how you convey your message to your customer.
If you’re currently selling your work, or are planning to in the future, I hope you found this series of articles helpful with thinking about your own pricing strategy as you move forward. Best of luck with your sales efforts!