Client Budget vs Client Expectations: How to Bridge the Gap?
Have clients who want Good, More and Cheap? Tell them they can only have two.
We’re sure you’ve come across one or more of these memes – the internet has recently been flooded with multiple versions of them. Although we have all been laughing along, reminiscing about our own “client expectations vs client budget” experiences, this attitude from clients is considered par for the course. While we enjoy poking a little (or a lot of) fun at the situation, it’s important to acknowledge that what we have is a problem. A recurring one. Clients want everything. For nothing. The rising popularity of these memes is a testament to the fact that this attitude is the new “normal”.
While everyone understands that if you pay a cheaper price for a tangible product, you can expect the parts, craftsmanship and overall quality to suffer (except in the case of mass production and economies of scale); the same logic doesn’t seem to be acknowledged for services or art. But in both cases, what you pay for is what you get. Generally speaking, in a market like India, it’s the cost of human talent, expertise and effort which has always been underrated and not given its due.
And you know what the worst part is? This mismatch in expectation and budget isn’t even the clients’ fault. Here’s why.
Competition, Competition, Competition
The estimated worth of the wedding photography industry is INR 2,000 crores, with over 250,000 photographers contributing to this revenue. Now those are some huge numbers. Consider, for a moment, that all these photographers are providing wedding photography and cinematography at various price points, with an equally varied bouquet of deliverables. The couples are spoiled for choice and literally have too many options. It is very difficult for them to navigate the market and discern the quality and quantum of the offerings from photographers. There are enough and more who are willing to offer a “better and cheaper” option. It’s very easy for the clients to fall for this and by the time they realise their mistake, it’s often too late.
Good, More & Cheap – The Holy Trinity
When we say that clients want it all, we weren’t kidding. They want experienced professionals and artists, excellent quality of work, expensive equipment and gimmicks used (and being seen by their guests), a large number of final photos delivered, a photo album for every member and section of the family – all at 1/10 of the cost that you quote for it. Because they’ve been told that it can be done. But, practically speaking, only two of the three is possible. And it’s up to us to educate them – be transparent during initial meetings, detail out the process and deliverables, give realistic timelines and not compromise on our prices. Here’s a little something we made for you. We have a feeling you’re going to like it!
But all is not lost. There’s still something we can do about this. As a community of wedding photographers, it is up to us to join forces and educate the clients, bridging the gap between the expectations and their budgets. Here’s how.
Gimme More. Just a Little More
Like we said, clients want everything. Just because they now know about the wealth of options available within wedding photography packages. Often, what they ask for is not even relevant – for example, asking for a 1000 pictures per day of the wedding; or even asking for RAW files; or 5 wedding albums; or 5 extra shooters; or 3 drones. More often than not, they’re comparing photographers basis how many pictures, how many albums or how much footage they can commit to giving.
It’s up to you to explain to them that quantity and volume do not guarantee quality. You need to understand their wedding and their plans in detail so that you can recommend the best fit for them, i.e. how much is relevant and reasonable for them as well as how much you can deliver without compromising the quality.
Quality Over Quantity
With the number of wedding related portals and blogs out there today, there is a lot of information available to couples looking for wedding photographers. So much so that it is difficult for them to discern quality and style amidst all the clutter.
It is up to you to demonstrate to them that photographic style and storytelling are a big factor to consider and not only pretty pictures of outfits and decor elements – you need to set the bar higher. You need to show them that your professional experience and technical expertise allows you to deliver consistently great photographs, wedding after wedding and not just a few, accidentally pretty photos per wedding. And this experience and expertise does not come cheap.
Show Me The Money
It is only natural for couples to aspire to a photographer out of their expected budget. In fact, it’s even healthy to have these high aspirations. After all, if you can afford everything that your heart desires, then there’s nothing to aspire to, is there? The real problem lies with those clients who haggle over price simply to get a “good deal”.
It’s up to you to tell them that experience, expertise, consistency and quality come at a price. More than that, you need to convince them that the money they pay out for wedding photography is not just for the day – sure, it sounds expensive as a “day rate”, but it is the only expenditure during a wedding that leaves the couple with priceless memories in print. Memories that they can cherish and treasure throughout the rest of their lives. If they need to compromise on any aspect of their wedding, it should not be the photography.
Take a Step Back
Like we said, it is not possible to get everything for nothing and still be happy about it – something will always be lacking. The most important thing is to keep the lines of communication open with the client – either convince them to pay more or reduce the scope of work. Setting the expectation correctly and being realistic about deliverables and timelines is entirely up to you.
Don’t forget that there will always be someone who will do it cheaper. What that says is that you are not a good fit for the client. But the key lies in realising when a client is not a good fit for YOU.
Cover Image Credit: Freepik.com