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Actual subject line that landed in my inbox: “Help me solve a sales mystery, please?” Well, fetch me my cape, Watson!  There are games afoot! (Obviously I watch too much BBC.  Also, I like good subject lines.) The email: I know there has to be an answer to this quandary, I just can’t find it. […]

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  • Beth Herzhaft - So here’s a further curveball question: I am familiar with the psychology of the middle decision-making, however how do you feel about *the order items are presented within* the pricelist?

    Originally, I had my list in order of cheap, middle, expensive. But this had the unfortunate effect of people leaning toward wanting the cheapest one! Then I experimented with moving the middle priced package up to the top of the pricelist so people would view that first.

    And voila! it does seem that more people choose the middle package. But this experience would seem to indicate that the psychology was more about what they saw *first* and not what was in the middle. Do you have any thoughts on this?ReplyCancel

  • Mike - Unfortunately, people can be rather fickle so perhaps we need to mess around with their minds a bit.

    For example, offer just two options instead of three. This doesn’t give them a middle option to choose from. The high priced one can be overly high and the other one can be at what we actually want to sell at to make a decent profit. If we get the higher price it’s more cream on the cake. More like a choice between a Rolls Royce car and a VW. They both do the same job of getting us from A to B, but there’s a perception of higher added value in the RR that might not be within their ability to pay for it. It’s a bit of a game, but in the end we need a Win/Win situation that everybody is happy with.

    Perhaps we don’t fully understand that people don’t want to be perceived as extremists. They take the easy option instead, so by negotiating between the benefits and features of what we offer, we can win and the client does too.ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Thanks for your thoughts, Mike! Offering two, with the “baseline” package being what you most want to sell, is definitely a good option.

      Some people might implement that and find that their clients resist the lack of options, or want to “take things away from” that first baseline package. If so, it’d be in their interest to then create a lower package but make the middle one appear a better value so that people still choose the middle. Some people don’t want to feel “cheap” and feel good when they don’t pick the bare bones option, so it sort of depends on who you are marketing to and what you find when you do some testing. That’s really another key point here – testing.

      Appreciate your thoughts!ReplyCancel

  • Jen - What happens if you only offer two packages? Since I’ve been doing this they usually pick the cheaper one. Is it n my interest to create a middle package then?ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - You could either make the cheaper one what you actually want to sell, or yes, introduce a third with the middle one being what you most want to sell. And of course, make sure the one you’re pointing to is in the best interest of the client – which I bet it will be.ReplyCancel

  • Beth Herzhaft - I am familiar with the psychology of the middle decision-making, however how do you feel about *the order items are presented within* the pricelist?
    Originally, I had my list in order of cheap, middle, expensive. But this had the unfortunate effect of people leaning toward wanting the cheapest one! Then I experimented with moving the middle priced package up to the top of the pricelist so people would view that first.
    And voila! it does seem that more people choose the middle package. But this experience would seem to indicate that the psychology was more about what they saw *first* and not what was in the middle. Do you have any thoughts on this?ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - I’m jumping on the “two packages train” 😉 As I read your article, I thought for one moment that my third option is missing and should be added. But then I thought it would overcomplicate my special pricing system – what do you think?
    On my website, if a client wants to order prints, he has to make two decisions – 1. Canvas or album – 2. Digital files (low and high quality). Together with the session fee it makes the price of the package. It is a customized package like “a la carte light” 😉
    I love the flexibility and simplicity it has for my customers. But it lacks a third option… What are your thoughts on this?ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Lightness and simplicity are always good. Ultimately we have to keep in mind what a package is – it’s a set of decisions you have made for your clients to make things easier for them, because they’d have no idea how to go about building a bundle of good things. Some people will have 2, some will have 3. If you have 3, keep in mind that the “middle” acts as a sort of default, so keep that in mind when you set it. If you have 2, make sure the “baseline” one is likely to lead to a satisfactory sale for you, because they are going to compare everything against it. So I wouldn’t say you should add another package, simply pay attention to what your defaults/baselines are and set them accordingly. I hope that makes sense!ReplyCancel

“Networking.” As an introvert, that unwelcome word makes me picture standing around at a busy event trying to talk to people when I’d rather be home reading. Ugh. But we know for a fact that relationships mean everything – in life and in business.  Relationships can create emotional and material wealth, lift us, strengthen us, […]

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  • Vicki - Haven’t listened yet but want to thank you already! The topic hits home.ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Hope you got a chance to listen, and enjoyed! Thanks for writing.ReplyCancel

  • Misty Westebbe - Love this! Just the boost I needed to jump into my journey of networking with other businesses, thank you both so much!ReplyCancel

  • msn - Wow. So, yeah, I get the introvert thing. Even thinking about relationship building, personal or business, can leave me feeling just exhausted. I mean, how does that stuff work, anyway? I think relationship building might feel a little predatory to people who are as (neurotically?) introverted as I am, so I have always been reluctant to appear like I am looking for quid pro quo. But you two really spoke to that in such a clear and helpful way. For the first time, I actually feel a little inspired to set up a blog. I *like* helping people and I would certainly love to feature business that I dig.
    So, for the first time, I sort of see a path in the dark woods of networking. Thanks, Jenika and thanks, Jamie!ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - I get what you’re saying, and it does feel weird to people who aren’t naturally inclined to network. I’ve been surprised in the past year, though, how much meeting new people enables me to help others – both help them, and introducing them to others who can help. And when I have questions I have someone to call on – everyone wins. I wish you luck as you grow your own business friendships. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Deirdre Ryan - I have been networking in person for at least 5 years. It does get easier, and I have gotten jobs from it. Being a commercial photographer, this is even more important, because I meet a lot of people in business.ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Fantastic! There really is something wonderful about face-to-face interaction and yes – in some industries it becomes even more important! The more you engage with someone the more info you have about them and it only makes sense that you’d want to hire people you’d interacted with in person over a relatively faceless submitted portfolio (or whatever)….thanks for your perspective.ReplyCancel

  • Liz - Thank you Jenika and Jamie for this advice!! I have been actively trying to figure out how to build a relationship with other businesses on my own, which has been frustrating and slow going. I am of course also an introvert and find networking very daunting. This advice could not have come at a better time. Both of you are always so helpful, thank you!!ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - You’re most welcome, and I’m glad it was helpful!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - Great interview!
    Thank you ladies for your insights.
    Gratitude always, MichelleReplyCancel

You’re in a busy season. You’ve got clients to care for, orders to fill.  Editing, web-maintaining, and marketing galore. And at some point, you’re going to run across a problem and you’ll sit down to write a critical email, and your mind comes up with – Nothing. So you try harder.  You’re a smart person.  […]

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  • Allison - So, funny timing. August is really hard for me because of my full-time job (at a University, back to school, etc) and I sat and stared at the computer for HOURS last week trying to come up with a blog. I gave up, frustrated, and decided to work out . All it took was 10 minutes of crunches and leg lifts before I had the perfect idea for a blog. I had to do something mentally easy and physically hard to make a different part of my brain work and open the flood gates.ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Yes! It’s the worst when you have a TON to do and the idea of walking away from your computer makes you panic because you know it has to get done. I’m so glad you took a break and BOOM, no surprise at all that stepping away helped your brain create the solution. Thanks for sharing this! And I hope your busy August ends smoothly.ReplyCancel

  • Naomi - Yup! I’d agree. I hit burnouts all the time during the day if I don’t take 5 minutes and do something else once in awhile. For me, we have 5 kids (among many other tasks/responsibilities…) and I just need me time. Usually, peace and quiet for a couple minutes. It’s hard to get, but it’s nice when I do find it. And productive! Great article!ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Sounds like you have a lot of important things on your plate! I’m glad you already found how to put this in regular practice. Hopefully you can keep finding those pockets of time, and if anyone ever gives you grief, you can send them the science 😉 Haha. Thanks for your thoughts.ReplyCancel

  • Gaston - Great read! Thank you for taking the time to write something like this. I’m sick of reading posts to be more productive instead of reading something to take a few minutes and step away of this crazy business-oriented reality we all live in.

    I’m working all the time, every single day, and this helps a lot.

  • Tavia Redburn - I always have the BEST business ideas when I’m doing something mindless… so this must by why! Love!! <3ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Yes! And now if anyone ever says you should stop, you can say “nope. science says I can.” 😉 Haha.ReplyCancel

  • Kerry Lynn - So true, and in the time it took to take a break to read your blog post, and look at the lovely scenic pictures on it, I solved a problem that had been annoying me with my blog – Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Oh wow! Honored to have been the subject of your break. 🙂 Glad you fixed the issue! Go you.ReplyCancel

  • Amy - Jenika, I love this post! I could not agree more with this post. We live in a society of the more you produce, the better you are. This is simply not true. Taking time for yourself is just as important as meeting that important deadline. When I am working on something creative, I do not force something to come. That time will end up being wasted & when you come back to it later, the ideas will come flowing.ReplyCancel

  • Ismael Brown - Most especially overachievers. Since they’re the ones who tend to work overtime.ReplyCancel

  • Elyse - love this idea.
    But I do have a hard time getting back to work after a break (ie I just want to keep “playing” – a few minutes isn’t enough once I get started!).ReplyCancel

So. Like any photographer, you probably have your eye on a piece of gear, right? Even if it’s just niggling in the back of your mind. (If you’re not a photographer, insert something else you have your eye on for this example.) Now, tell me – why do you want that piece of gear?  How […]

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  • Paul Parkinson - It’s all about the distinctions between “features” and “benefits”. Features are about what you are buying/selling and benefits are about why…

    Feature – bridge – benefit.

    Our fire extinguisher is red (feature) which means that (bridge) you can see it more easily in an emergency (benefit)

    If you sell features you sell less than if you sell benefits.ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Agreed – and thanks for pointing out this additional framing and labeling of this concept. Part of the reason I phrased it this way is that creative business owners often have a terrible time seeing the benefits *clients* are most concerned with and motivated by. A photographer might think that the best benefit is having your memories 50 years from now; even though that’s true, clients aren’t often motivated by what’s best for them 50 years from now (See: retirement savings industry), they care a lot about today though. Just one example of many. I see features/benefits framings used often in business books, but something gets lost in translation when some business owners try to do that – hopefully thinking of Amazon reviews will help them figure out what clients care about and have more success as they apply this idea. Thanks for your thoughts Paul!ReplyCancel

  • Kenneth Wesley McNay - I kinda noticed a point about the sales copy with the technical details: I found myself wanting those technical specifications and comparing whether my current lens stacked up well against it. The lens coating, the ghosting, the flare, the weather-resistance, and the increased aperture are all technical specifications that my current lens stacks up against, but not as well. If I really felt those were detrimental, I’d know immediately that I’ve got to consider the upgrade.

    In contrast to that, I totally agree that Amazon reviews are frequently great. In fact, one of my first behaviors in reviews is to look at the lowest ratings to see what the frustrations and painful failures have been for other customers. Even a few of those will give a better impression of whether I’ll really appreciate the purchase or find myself also unhappy and ready to rate low.

    I think my insight is that having aspiration and inspiration in the content is probably needed. I want to educate my clients that buying prints through me means they get protective coating, choice of paper finish, paper backing on canvas wraps, shipped directly to the home, ready to hang/already framed, and other features that are benefits–if they haven’t been thinking of those, I hope seeing those listed creates some aspiration for a client to have those features. Likewise, I want the testimonials to provide inspiration, such as, great choice of location for staging, advice for styling and clothing, friendly demeanor and trustworthy conduct, customer service and attention to detail, superb images, etc.

    With the technical details, I might seem boring, but hopefully clients feel informed and sense aspiration to have the highest quality–or at least know what to compare to recognize quality. With reviews and testimonials, I hopefully seem human and realistic, yet hopefully clients are also getting the inspiration for their own experience.ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Thanks for your detailed thoughts Kenneth! I enjoyed reading them.

      Part of this post that I wrote, then edited out just for length and not introducing too many ideas at once, was writing more about placement. If Canon’s description were sales copy, I wouldn’t suggest deleting the information about lens coating and glare. Just moving it further down, since it’s less likely to be the primary concern or the emotional motivator (focusing issues are probably the primary concern, and bokeh/portrait/low light performance are probably bigger motivators). The bigger point is this: When someone is searching for a photographer they aren’t typically comparing technical specifications upon first pass, so I recommend moving that information further down and drawing people in with what’s top on their mind, and once they feel understood and thoroughly amazed that someone is “reading their mind,” THEN moving on to that kind of education. (There are some people who would be impressed by comments on technicality and delivery, and if that person is your target client then run with it up front. Most people aren’t though.) I simply see too many people whose websites look like they’re written for fellow photographers rather than clients, and that’s the sort of thing I’m taking aim at with this post. Anyway thanks for chatting!ReplyCancel

  • Daisy - I’ve actually done this with an email course I was offering my readers and it definitely helped me get them more excited about it. Thanks for talking about it in more detail.ReplyCancel

A few hundred people have said these things to me recently: Writing about myself is hard.  What do clients want to hear?  Do they care?  Do I sound dumb? Bleh.  This sounds like everyone else.  My life just isn’t that interesting. I’m a private person and I don’t want to share that much, anyway.  And […]

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  • laura - I’d love to receive the “write about yourself” class info. I don’t have a problem writing (as reflected on my website), but I do have a hard time as a photographer knowing WHAT potential clients want to hear about their potential photographer. Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Hey Laura! Did you drop your email in? It’ll be on its way!ReplyCancel

  • Regina - Thank’s again. You have always seemed to know what I needed to know! It’s like you’re reading my mind.ReplyCancel

  • Gretchen - I’m so excited! Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Daisy - Just finished it, Jenika! It was useful and just short enough to absorb quickly. Thanks for breaking it down for us so simply. I have Irresistible Website myself and this is a nice companion to it. ?ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Woohoo! I’m so glad that it was helpful and speedy! Hope you do some great things with it, Daisy!ReplyCancel

  • Christian Lange - On the related topic: I’m always advising clients to “put a face on their business” because people want to know the person behind the company. The irony of that is that up to last week I didn’t have a photograph of myself on my studio’s website! So, I followed my own advise and it works! People contact me and feel like they’re not talking to a stranger!ReplyCancel