Today is a guest blog post by Jimmy Moncrief of Ciderr.
A filmmaker friend of mine recently asked me for some feedback and advice regarding a recent inquiry. He stated:
“I just got this inquiry, and it sounded like a perfect fit. She loved our style, she talked about our storytelling before we could even get to it, and then she asked for our prices. She was perfect. I was ecstatic about the inquiry, but after a few weeks she still hadn’t responded. I emailed her a follow-up, and she said she was negotiating with another filmmaker. I said that was fine and to let me know what she decides. She then emailed me a couple more times telling me she was still negotiating with this other filmmaker. Finally, she emails me to tell me she chose him.”
My friend is an amazing filmmaker and doesn’t have any problem booking weddings or raising his prices. He just thought this interaction was extremely puzzling. “Why did she keep emailing me telling me she is negotiating with another filmmaker”?
The answer is simple: the bride was passively negotiating. She appealed to my friend at first, but then told him about another filmmaker later in the exchange. She wanted him to say something to the effect of, “Well, my prices are negotiable.” My friend, of course, didn’t and the power pendulum in this exchange could not swing the other way. If he had, however, the pendulum would not stop. Once she found out that “prices are negotiable”, I guarantee you this bride would pick apart his price list to the bone.
There are other tactics my friend could have used such as offering a lower rate, but lessor service. However, she was already asking for a discount on his lowest priced package. We will discuss other tactics he could have used in part two of this article.
The above interaction reminded me of a Harvard Business Review article published in 2003 titled “The Chinese Negotiation”. They outlined several techniques that are common in China, and one that is related to the above example is seeking a balance between yin (passive) and yang (active). The article states this balance: encourage compromise in business and allow both sides to maintain valid positions. The best compromises result from the ritual back-and-forth of haggling.
I do admit to negotiating using this technique, but I want to challenge the readers to the following: name a single luxury brand that discounts their prices. I can’t think of one. It doesn’t matter what industry and what region of the world they operate in, I can’t think of a single luxury brand that discounts their prices continuously. When luxury brands do discount their prices they do it with limited time, therefore providing even more scarcity.
You see, all luxury brands maintain paucity to some degree. According to Merriam-Webster, paucity is the presence of something only in small or insufficient quantities or amounts; scarcity.
Wedding filmmakers are in a very unique position to establish themselves in the luxury services category. Not only can filmmakers establish a great quality product, but they can also limit their servicesdue to the fixed amount of weekends in a year. This, of course, is a great formula for increasing your prices. Importantly, I understand not all filmmakers are in the luxury category. However, this article is about how any filmmaker, regardless of their pricing, can increase their prices.
Rohit Arora is a luxury brand consultant for BPG Group and recently stated, “Luxury brands mustcontinue to maintain a certain degree of exclusivity and stature with the paucity factor and the placement factor – from the retail experience to the touch-points it associates itself with.”
In summary, it is tempting at this time of year to negotiate on price to book more weddings. However, before you do think of your long-term vision for your brand. Additionally, think of paucity, in the perspective of, “How many other filmmakers are available this weekend?”
Jimmy Moncrief is the cofounder of Ciderr and a wedding photographer. Ciderr is a web application that lets filmmakers and photographers create custom-branded registries for their business.
Sometimes you got to stick to your product and your service. If you start reducing your price, does it mean you start to devalue your work? This is hard, with all this free education and affordable equipment, it seems like everyone’s a filmmaker… and yes, I know people that only just got into the DSLR revolution and went “I can do that, shoot a bit, edit in iMovie, charge some money.” You just got to stick to your brand and if people love your work and personality enough, they’ll hire you.