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Old July 23rd, 2009, 04:31 PM   #1
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Business Q: how to reach high-end?

When I consider high end I think of a number at least double over the average. in our area the average for a professional should be $2500 (video). High end would be anything over $4500 on a consistent basis, but definitely having that same studio booking some events at $6 - 8K for a production wedding event a few times a year.

So here is my question.. with so much competition.. even in a very populated, and lets face it, relatively wealthy area like SOCAL there seems to be plenty of "good enough" videographers willing to bottom out on the price to get the business (same goes for photography). How can I ever raise my rates and still stay in business full time?

Currently we are averaging 3K per event per medium (photo / video) (and on photography that would be before album sales etc.) I really want to start averaging over 5K per event.

Any thoughts?
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Old July 24th, 2009, 09:25 PM   #2
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Hi Michael,

Do you have $5k options that the couples aren't buying? Although having the right connections is in my opinion the most important thing (high-end photographer and event designer referrals) what also needs to be considered is your overhead, payroll, efficiency and their effect on your overall gross vs. net business income you take home. 1 crew working out of a rented storefront shooting $5k events 30x's per year may mean less take-home pay for the owner than if he or she were to charge $3k and shoot 30 events himself working from a home office. In other words its not the price that necessarily determines success (though obviously it helps) there are other factors to consider.




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Originally Posted by Michael Padilla View Post
When I consider high end I think of a number at least double over the average. in our area the average for a professional should be $2500 (video). High end would be anything over $4500 on a consistent basis, but definitely having that same studio booking some events at $6 - 8K for a production wedding event a few times a year.

So here is my question.. with so much competition.. even in a very populated, and lets face it, relatively wealthy area like SOCAL there seems to be plenty of "good enough" videographers willing to bottom out on the price to get the business (same goes for photography). How can I ever raise my rates and still stay in business full time?

Currently we are averaging 3K per event per medium (photo / video) (and on photography that would be before album sales etc.) I really want to start averaging over 5K per event.

Any thoughts?
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Old July 25th, 2009, 02:28 AM   #3
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Ok, so I realize i'm being very transparent in this post.. which is a bit uncomfortable, but hey that's what were here for right.. mutual support, encouragement and growth?

Previously we only had up to a 4k option; and we started at 2k. We just transitioned our packages to move into a higher market.. where our base starts at $3500, which is $500 above our old average and our top packages ends up at 5K.. but really I would prefure to have an 8K package etc; we really want to average somewhere in the mid 4's per event, and hopefully still do the same volume of events (perhaps a little less); this year we've have aprox. 50 events scheduled and or already shot. But our price increase so far doesn't seem to be working out since the average inquiry is looking to spend no more than $2500 MAX on their video.. and often once we sit with them they are willing to spend a bit more and book us. Since revamping our pricing structure we've already turned away 4 would-be clients this week alone.. and I'm not ok about that; but I do want to reach higher markets.

Currently we are set up to only receive business in one of two ways; 1) by referral and 2) internet inquiry. We are on a few location lists but we just don't manage the relationships all that well for it to be profitable (I also find location coordinators have a serious superiority complex witch doesn't jive with me).

So if anyone is out there that has actually accomplished what I'm asking please chime in with your best advice.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 03:34 AM   #4
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Michael -
Keep in mind you raised prices into the worst re-pression (de-cession?) in memory for most everyone... many people had their net worth cut in half (houses, stocks), or worse. Even people with money have "cut back", particularly here in Kah-lee-for-nee-yah.

Best I can suggest is to offer a good basic package so that you aren't turning people (work) away, and use upsells/add-ons to raise the total. IMO better to work than sit around, even if you have to make a bit less. Don't cut your own throat though, but while you're working on getting the higher end gigs, focus on raising the bar quality wise and the prices should rise in time, particularly if you can focus your marketing on higher end events.

I've got a photographer friend who is always asking how to "break into" the high end, and I'd like to do the same myself (not going to happen for me locally, that's for sure, but I'm OK with that). It's tough, because to hit the "elite" market, you have to have a certain vibe, a certain level of equipment, and be able to meet a certain level of expectation.

A Mercedes doesn't get you from point A to point B any differently really than a Kia, save for maybe a bit better trim level, but there's a HUGE difference in price for a chunk of metal on 4 blobs of rubber... maybe a rough analogy, but perhaps it will help you grab ahold of the value of marketing...
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Old July 25th, 2009, 09:08 AM   #5
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Very true..

I'll have to come back and properly digest this again after our weddings today.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 12:39 PM   #6
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My comments are not from the perspective of having "arrived" myself. However I have developed some insight into this by observation of others. It takes more than just being a good scripter / shooter / editor. It's very important to have all the pieces in place so that your work is compositionally and technically well done. But if that is as far as it goes, there is a price point brick wall that you will have a hard time breaking through. You have to develop an image of yourself and your work that is established in significant part by others. Although everything that you do is very important, it isn't enough to breakthrough into "top-tier" status.

There are many who can give you better specific advise that I, but one important thing to do is to develop close relationships with other wedding vendors. It's one thing when an event planner describes you as a terrific videographer; it's another thing to do this yourself. Another is look for opportunities to establish yourself as a leading pro in the business with speaking engagements at professional functions as well as wedding shows etc.

There is no one way, one size fits all approach to this. From my observation of successful videographers, the most solid approach is a combination of good work, a professional work ethic and a continual effort toward establishing and maintaining good relationships with other wedding vendors. The approach that I personally dislike is the "rock star" approach where someone creates an "avant garde" image of his or her self that is nothing but bogus hot air and theatrics. If you want to try this approach, it helps to have a suitable foreign accent and other accouterments of pretentiousness. And any time you shoot something poorly, just call it "organic" and mumble a few things about artistic creativity.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 02:35 PM   #7
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Organic... ;o)
My biggest competitor has a cool accent, dang it!

The question we ask ourselves, "Are we worth it," is the most important, and has a lot to do with vendor relationships and what past clients are doing for you. Networking is far more important than Advertising, and it seems that often the biggest effect advertising has is the clout that it gives us among vendors. We're out there and looking good.

Ramping up your price is tricky. Our monthly bills go up over time, which is one indicator. Another is how much the phone is ringing. But one of the best is the expression on potential client's faces when you give your price. The worst thing is finding out they spent 100K on their wedding and next to nothing on video.

Losing four in a week sucks, but it is good and necessary to turn people away. I tell my wife that if we book 100% of those interested, our price is too low. So it's healthy, but that percentage is another indicator.

From what I've learned about you quest, I think you ramped up far too quickly, as I think you're realizing. Keep in mind, though, that your price point is not just a dollar figure, but what you offer for it. Most couples have a figure in their minds: $1500, $2000, $2500, etc. They pay us, and decide for us what they will pay. So when we raise our prices, we do so minimally while reducing the bells and whistles. That way we can maintain the price point and gain time (hence money).
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Old July 25th, 2009, 08:11 PM   #8
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My advice is to contact some of the people you know are high end or that you admire and see if they are willing to do some consulting (most are). You will have the best luck with people who are not in your market for obvious reasons.

I will also add that most high end people I work with have all had a PR person at one time or another. I'm talking about a professional PR person- not a family member.

Hope this helps,

J.
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Old July 26th, 2009, 02:03 AM   #9
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Hi Michael

You obviously have to skills and artistic ability to produce high end stuff so surely it's going to mean some creative marketing to get into the high end market.

The link below might be useful to read thru!! Earl is a Pro wedding videographer and is very focussed on the marketing aspect of wedding production rather than the technical aspects

EC Come, EC Go

I would have thought that the high end people would rather look at the creative and even social side of you rather than anything technical. If you shot the "Van Houghton's daughter's wedding at the huge mansion on top of the hill" their afflulent social circle would be sure to recommend you. They would probably also be more impressed with how many awards you have won for your art rather than the gear you shoot with!! I'm sure the very wealthy would love to tell their friends that their daughter's wedding was shot by an award winning videographer and relish in the bragging rights!!

Then again I could be wrong!! I have never ventured into that sort of market but I would still say that pure status symbol would play a big part in landing jobs from the wealthy

Good luck at hope we see you at the top of the ladder soon!!

Chris
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Old July 26th, 2009, 10:34 AM   #10
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Thank you everyone for you advice.. its very good, all of it!

We just finished a wedding last night where it really was one of those, "oh jeeze and they only spent $$-xzy for us!"

Literally I must have seen 20 Lambhorgini's, Ferrari's etc..
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Old July 26th, 2009, 03:55 PM   #11
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Loved that article Chris.

Some videographers don't publish their prices. That might work for you, though I don't think it would work for us. Anyway, you could bid each job that way after you've met and discerned the client's needs, ability and expectations.

Hey Michael you're not that far from us. If you ever have need of 1, 2 or 3 experienced multi-cam shooters on a big event, let me know. And same here.
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Old July 26th, 2009, 08:09 PM   #12
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Hi Dana

I always give my prices up front !! Plenty of people who have enquired about a booking have actually commented that they "skipped" sites that said "email me for a quote".

However maybe with the Ferrari and Lambhorgini clan this is not necessary as they don't care whether it's $5K or $8K

Gosh Michael, you have a high end market there!!! In Perth you are lucky to see a Ferrari unless you specially go to the dealership. I think your first purchase will have to be a bright red Ferrari with custom plates called "WEDVID 1" They will start the ball rolling!!

Chris
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Old July 27th, 2009, 11:49 AM   #13
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Oh, I meant that Michael might do well not to post his prices. The lower-end clients would dissipate, but there would be more flexibility with the higher-end. The question is if there is *enough* of a high end market to make up the difference.
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Old July 27th, 2009, 08:49 PM   #14
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How can I ever raise my rates and still stay in business full time?

create something so unique that, to your couples, there is no comparison. part of that is within the film itself, and part of that is within the perception of the film - which is of course tied to you and your branding.

P.
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Old July 28th, 2009, 12:28 AM   #15
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That's where your production talent solves your admin problems. I love it.
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