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Old July 20th, 2007, 08:40 PM   #1
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"How to Gouge the Bride"? What are we doing to our image?

I'm new I know but I can't help but jump right in with some controversy.

I just read this response to an article in a recent event DV magazine and it kind of disturbs me that the already tainted image of wedding videographers is being worsened. Can't we do something to improve the image of a wedding videographer? We already have every "Uncle Bob" with a camcorder calling themselves professionals and charging brides for amateur work, now we have to deal with professionals ripping brides for every penny they can? Aarrgghh!

Original article is called "Sell it In Post" from the July issue of Event DV magazine.

http://www.eventdv.net/Articles/Read...rticleID=12876
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Old July 21st, 2007, 04:06 AM   #2
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ive written many and varied posts about the way videography is perceived...
the only way to change the way its viewed, is to change the way its professionally managed.
At the moment, negative precedents have been set to a point of making this industry difficult to sell to potential clients, and the way technology is constantly evollllllving forces us to not only compete with competitors, but to also comete with uncle bob

the only thing we have going for ourselves is our artwork
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Old July 21st, 2007, 06:53 AM   #3
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I'd say you've missed the point entirely...

1. you're there
2. you're shooting anyway
3. this isn't going to happen again
4. the bride probably stretched her budget so thin you could see through Abe's ear...
5. after the wedding she may have resources she didn't have BEFORE the wedding... gifts etc...
6. you can't show her your footage of her day until you've shot it, right? someone else's day just isn't the same.

So exactly how are you "gouging the bride"?? You spend a few extra bucks on extra tapes to make sure you could "overdeliver" anyhow (right?), so what if you can now deliver a better package than originally ordered if she wants it?!?! I'd think you'd be the second or third most liked guy in her life right about that time! (unlike "uncle Bobcam", who got lots of footage of cleavage, his shoes, and food... and missed every "money shot" in the ceremony)

In short, IF you're a professional, there's ABSOLUTELY no reason not to get ALL the good stuff "in the can", and sell it up later. If she doesn't want it, you don't have to mix it, if she does, you don't have to go back and reshoot <wink>...

Early on, I did a wedding where my wife got a literal last minute call to shoot the pix... I mentioned that for $50, I'd shoot the video since I'd be sitting home bored anyway, and that would cover the tapes at least (plus hey, I'd get some cake and punch <wink> and play with my toys), and they could come back later and get the full video - took nearly a year, but that was the husband's surprise anniversary gift! It was an easy shoot, easy edit, short ceremony and immediate reception... and a bit of extra $ in the budget!

I don't see it as gouging to make it possible for someone to have a "complete" wedding video even if they couldn't afford it when they booked you - you're doing a "favor" for the client (see above) as long as you're there, so if you can pick up the "back end" by showing all the great stuff you got and upselling... how does that give anyone a "bad name"??

If someone asks for a single cam ceremony shoot, am I going to leave the other cams at home, or make sure I've got all the angles covered? I'd rather let 'em roll... underpromise, overdeliver, and maybe make a bit on the upsell later.

It's business really, and GOOD business at that! How many times do you order the desert even when you just came for appetizers? Don't you ever go shopping for one thing, and end up with two or three "extras" you realized you needed/wanted once you were at the store?? Heck, I'll bet your camera has at least a few "accessories" floating around in the old camera bag... things you didn't buy at first, but later decided you wanted/needed...

If anyone here hasn't spent more money "upgrading" their kit that they ever expected, please step up and share your secrets NOWWWWWW! Do any of you feel gouged? C'mon, admit it, those "extras" are worth it, right <wink>?

Controversial, nope... not if you think about it in that way!! In fact it offers some pretty good advice if you approach it right!
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Old July 21st, 2007, 09:51 AM   #4
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Well hey, if that's all the author is talking about (underpromise, overdeliver) then that's just great. But when I read things like this comment (a direct quote from the article):

"I have been able to charge twice as much for exactly the same thing after the wedding as I would if contracted to produce it prior to the wedding day.."

This is really the part that I have a problem with. That doesn't sound to me like those "extras" are being offered as a second chance offering to me. I wonder if the author would want his clients to read his article.

Quote:
If anyone here hasn't spent more money "upgrading" their kit that they ever expected, please step up and share your secrets NOWWWWWW! Do any of you feel gouged? C'mon, admit it, those "extras" are worth it, right <wink>?
It's not the offering of additional services afterward that I have a problem with. If I bought a camera, for instance, and then realized I needed another battery and the only place I could get that battery was at the place I bought the camera, and they decided to charge twice what the thing is worth, then yes! I would absolutely feel gouged!

Quote:
Originally Posted by W. Michael Hoffman, director of the Center for Business Ethics at Bentley College, Waltham, Mass.
I guess my position is that if you have the only water hole on an island all by itself in mid-ocean, you should refrain from setting your price too high, but not if there's free competition in whatever market you have. A free market keeps your price down for you--that's the rationale behind antitrust laws.
After the wedding is over, the market is definitely closed and this practice would be, in my opinion, price gouging.

The author may have had good intentions with his article but I, for one, will not use this type of "sales technique" in my business.

Last edited by Adam Hoggatt; July 21st, 2007 at 10:37 AM.
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Old July 21st, 2007, 03:18 PM   #5
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OK, I read that quote as "discounted" up front pricing - many videographers do that so as to get work/bookings.

If you've ever taken advantage of "introductory pricing" or a limited time sale, then you've been on the client side. You go back next week when the sale is over, and you don't get the same "deal".

I got my Vegas 7 upgrades when they first came out, and I think the price went up significantly once that deal was over... is it gouging to offer discounts up front to book sales but then not offer those same discounts later?

I think it's too easy to ignore the value of time and product here. Before the wedding time and budgets are often tight, and maybe the bride gets what she can afford, but really wants more - if you can deliver that at a later time and she's willing to pay the additional sans discount (nothing says you can't discount "after" too), I'm not seeing that as a problem...

And let's just say for the sake of argument the client was a bit of a "bridezilla" - she wants that extra footage, but has been a PITA along the way - do you really want to give her the discount???

Circumstances vary, and I've seen times in other businesses where it was simply necessary to raise rates for the hassle of dealing with a problem client - if they still will pay, then there's no longer anything to gripe about, you're being compensated for their idiosyncracies (which oddly enough probably often involve demanding discounts). Other guys you discount just because they are like family and their loyalty means a lot, and they don't quibble with what you charge, so give them the break.

I think you're being too harsh on the written article - words don't always convey everything about how someone does business, and if the guy is respected and sucessful, he's probably doing something right!
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Old July 21st, 2007, 08:47 PM   #6
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Quote:
OK, I read that quote as "discounted" up front pricing - many videographers do that so as to get work/bookings.
I can see that but it seems to me there is alot more implication in the article than just that.

Quote:
I've seen times in other businesses where it was simply necessary to raise rates for the hassle of dealing with a problem client
Although that may be common amongst videographers, it is completely unethical and I believe it may well be illegal.

Not trying to start any fights, I just see things going on here that seem very wrong to me and I'm sick of the bad image that wedding videographers have in general.

Last edited by Adam Hoggatt; July 21st, 2007 at 10:26 PM.
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Old July 21st, 2007, 09:57 PM   #7
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the real issue here is knowledge.. ie the clients knowledge and understanding of what the INITIAL package contents contain.
Take for example the sales pitch of "reception til end"
In all sense of the word, you are offering to remain at the reception until the end. The client would assume that everything that happens at said reception will be archived, in turn, be provided to them upon delivery of goods.
"Its called intent to sell demonstrated goods"
Whether its by assumption or not, the fact that the supplier has said they would be in attendance is the main element which

Now, if i was to write "Reception til end, speeches extra" do you think anyone would book me?

I recall once, i got sick of the longwinded speeches when i did 3 wedddings in a row where the speeches went for longer than 90minutes
I wrote in my packages that speeches over 20minutes would be edited
In that week from the usual 40 odd email queries i get, i got 3 and the packages people were chasing worn worth my time (hence whythey no longer exist)

It seems to me that this person is doign what photographers do, such as offer a basic shooting package then offering the edit style later.
Photographers have been doing this for decades with albums, an example being the inclusion of a basic 20 page spread, however the client has the ability to add pages at about 100bux a side.
The differnce however is the fact that photographic clients expect this, they do NOT expect it from video.

This would gouge the client if the producer DIDNT advise the client that speeches or what have you would be extra when it comes to editing.
If however teh client knows and understands what theyre getting into, then all teh power to them.
I on the other hand, like any work contract, prefer to know WHAT I AM getting into. in turn, i offer a base package cost upfront, and expect it to be paid upfront.
irrespective of how much $ the client may have before.
If they blow their budget, its not my problem
95% of the time however, they WILL have cash after the wedding through gifts or from their honeymoon budget. I used to get the final payment after the weddings, but i kid you not, ALL of teh clients who owed me money after the wedding blew their cash on their honeymoons, in turn it screwed up my schedule and my workload.

I think videographers have been too lenient simply to score the job, in turn, theyre undercutting themselves and have been for the last 5 years
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Old July 21st, 2007, 11:15 PM   #8
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Think of it this way - book an airplane flight or hotel in advance, and you get a discount while they are trying to sell their inventory - if you walk up to the counter at the last minute, you pay full price - where is that unethical? Call a plumber at 3AM with your basement flooding, you think you'll get the preferred rate?

If there's a written contract spelling out terms and you violate that, then you're in trouble - negotiating additional services on top of those originally contracted for is perfectly ethical and reasonable... you go buy a house with the "standard features" and when it's almost done you want them to upgrade everything - now they are probably out for the "standard stuff" already ordered and perhaps partially done... you think they will offer the same price??

Lets say for a minute that you've booked all your time, and now a client wants to increase your editing load by purchasing a much more complex package - you are already fully booked, so you have to go hire additional help at additional expense - are you giving that away?? I can EASILY see a busy heavily booked business having to charge EXTRA to accomodate unanticipated changes... rush fees, emergency rates, all pretty standard business practice...

I think you're trying to ascribe some evil "philosophy" to the methods of dealing with clients rather than just a practical expression of the realities of a "service" business - this isn't like putting stuff on a shelf and slapping a price tag up - that's where "bait and switch" is not legal or ethical.

I've noticed that many wedding vendors like to keep their prices as "hush hush" as possible (some out of arrogance, others maybe out of embarrasment). You're talking about a custom one of a kind product, and a WIDE range of potential quality depending on the person doing the service and the money paid.

Maybe the B&G liked the "pilot" so much they decided to bump to the full production - whats wrong with having the footage in the can and charging your regular rate, which I presume you discussed when you contracted, including any applicable discounts for early booking...

I think the one thing that MIGHT be a great idea is to include specifics right in the original contract as to additional work/product/production and how much it may cost - that way there's no "ethics" question when it comes up later, and you still have reasonable control over your time and pricing. THAT wuld be good business anyway, and you could use it to upsell at the original booking, or later as conditions warrant.

In short, there's nothing at all illegal or enethical with charging for your services - that's hopefully how you make your living. If you can improve your bottom line by upselling the client to a better package and more product once they see how great your work is <wink>, how is that different from the photographer??
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Old July 22nd, 2007, 12:01 AM   #9
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If the contract includes a DVD with scenes A, B and C, and you include shots A, B and C, you've fulfilled your obligations and the client's expectations.

Now during the event, you shoot scenes D, E and F (not specified in the contract) in case the client wants to pay for additional post work to include the extra scenes. You show the client shots D, E and F - if they like them but don't want to pay for the extra editing, resulting in the final product only containing A, B and C - you haven't violated your contract or done anything unethical. If they decide to purchase the extra shots D, E and F, there's still no slight of hand. Extra work outside of the contract = additional fees. At least if that is what I'm understanding this issue is about.

The problem with the battery analogy is that the extra battery would be, as stated, a 'need', not just an extra 'perk'. The extra footage is not an 'essential' like a camera battery - it's a non-neccessary value-added service that is extra. Even without the extra footage, the DVD is still 'complete' in that it fulfills the original contract.

I could write a list of hundreds of examples where this occurs every day (upselling). You go to buy a product or service, and the business tries to upsell to you before you leave. The extras are not neccessities, but they are often attractive - but if you don't pay extra, you don't get the extras. Consider these:

1.) At the grocery store, you're hit with those product racks at the checkout. You don't need them, they're not what you came to get, but they're nice, tasty little extras pitched to you before you leave. But if you don't pay extra for them, you don't get them.

2.) Whitewater rafting companies and amusement park rides offer the photo/video pack after you're done with the ride/trip. It's not part of the original package, in most cases you don't know it's available until they try to sell it to you at the end. Again, you'll get no extras without additional fees.

3.) You buy a Dell computer online, and before you check out they try to sell you a nice big monitor. You still get your computer in the end, but if you don't pay for this add-on, you don't get it.

4.) Burger King tries to sell you the super-sized meal when you only came for the regular size. The extra would be nice, but if you don't pay extra, you don't get it.

Maybe I'm missing something but I see nothing wrong with trying to upsell value-added features after a shoot is over. You're doing extra work outside of the contract - which should require additional fees for your efforts.

Last edited by Dan Robinson; July 22nd, 2007 at 02:31 AM.
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Old July 22nd, 2007, 02:49 AM   #10
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My opinion on this is that it's not unethical as long as the contract is crystal clear and you are crystal clear and up front with the client on what is and isn't covered/provided.

HOWEVER .... I do think it's a low standard to operate your business by if you're purposely preparing your contract so that the couple will think they are getting a certain level of coverage and finding out later that they didn't get that. I know everyone is responsible for the contract they sign, but I also believe business owners have a responsibility to be clear and up-front about the details within the contract so that the client doesn't have to have a lawyer read it, ya know?

EDIT: Also, I would like to point out that I operate a service-oriented business. I'm in business to make money, but my goal is to gain client satisfaction. By keeping things easy to understand and being very clear and up-front with my clients, I think they appreciate the job I do that much more. Every couple gives me a rave review after the wedding and again after they watch their wedding video. I don't think I would get that response if I used the "Sell It In Post" tactics. And I'd much rather have REALLY happy clients giving REALLY good referrals to everyone they know.
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Old July 22nd, 2007, 09:14 AM   #11
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Dave and Dan, I see your points but the article seems to go way beyond upselling. I'm all for upselling. I see nothing wrong with it. It just seems to me that the author of the article has intentionally set his clients up to need more services to get what they initially wanted. That's what I have a problem with.

I completely agree with Travis. It is way more valuable to have a client that feels she got a great deal on a superb video than to give that up for a few extra dollars (even alot of extra dollars).

By all means, upsell. If the bride can afford more later or if she needs something she initially didn't want, that's great. But do it in an ethical way. Don't create a contract that forces the client to guess at exactly what she needs (how many toasts, speeches, songs etc.) with the intent on getting more money if that number changes. That's just not right and it's a disservice to your clients.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan
Maybe I'm missing something but I see nothing wrong with trying to upsell value-added features after a shoot is over. You're doing extra work outside of the contract - which should require additional fees for your efforts.
I agree but the author is advising that you intentionally set up the contract so the bride will need to add features to get the same thing she wanted initially. Here is a direct quote from the article. It is obvious that he plans it this way:

Quote:
I have been able to charge twice as much for exactly the same thing after the wedding as I would if contracted to produce it prior to the wedding day.
The point seems to be, sell them a package for a cheap price initally, then require them to buy extras to get what they wanted in the first place.

In a prequel to this article in the previous month, he says to specify in the contract things like:

Quote:
..the number of toasts, speeches and live performances, and how long each will be.
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Old July 22nd, 2007, 03:45 PM   #12
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Not into shooting weddings... and only read a bit of the story...

Its funny why I even read this thread....

But if you come to me and say hey I'll shoot your wedding from beginning to end... then you'll shoot my wedding from beginning to end...

If you come to me afterwards and say well now this dance scene is going to cost you more... sorry its not going to cost me more...

That would be like me shooting a music video and saying well guess what I brought and extra camera. Now if you want that footage included into your video you'll have to pay me...

But don't worry the odds of me getting married are pretty high... :)
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Old July 22nd, 2007, 03:51 PM   #13
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I think "package" pricing is pretty standard - and not every couple can jump on the "platinum champagne" package - some are going to naturally choose the "aluminum beer budget special" because they've got a zillion other things to pay for. SO, you can be dumb, book the low end package (which should specify what it will cover), go shoot that and only that, and get paid for that...

OR, you could book the low end package, (since you're there anyway and have all your gear) shoot it just as if it were a higher end package (not saying go shoot the reception if they only booked the ceremony, just saying if you're there ANYWAY...). Then you can let them know if they want to upgrade to a higher package, the footage is in the can, and maybe toss them a teaser disc or something.

You're not FORCING them to go from beer to champaign, but you're giving them an option they wouldn't otherwise have, and who knows, maybe for some of the gigs you just throw some of that in 'cause you know it will pay off in the end with happy customers.

It's not like you're selling them undercoating and Scotch-gard unless you're being a jerk about it... always present even your BASIC package as a high quality product, and allow them to choose the upgrade both before and after the event! If they take it, great, if not, that should be fine too!

Maybe they got a gift from uncle Bob after he looked at his footage, and they can now afford the "upgrade" at full price (you can decide whether to offer the same discount as you did on upfront booking, but does that degrade your "discount"??). I could see where if your discount structure was early in your booking cycle that the additional could add quite a lot to the overall price, perhaps "twice as much"...

I know I've more than once taken advantage of a "deal" only to see the same thing for double what I paid, so I don't see this as "gouging" or offensive.

Smart shoppers with "cash" or equivalent up front typically get a better deal - that's life and commerce. At least instead of "you snooze you lose (forever)" you're giving the client the opportunity to at get the top of the line, even if the price is no longer discounted...

I'm failing to see what the problem is with that - makes rather good sense to me, and if a professional in a magazine read by professionals is a bit rough in his presentation of the concept, that doesn't mean the idea isn't a good one (thanks for bringing it to our attention!), or that he doesn't do it far more smoothly in a client presentation...

Hey, maybe the article is far more offensive, but you're quoting ONE line like it's some form of extortion... it's simple economics, and I don't see how it makes videographers look bad to run a business on basic economic principles... maybe if more did, we'd all look better!
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Old July 22nd, 2007, 04:12 PM   #14
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Your point is a good one Gary - but typically I see packages being differentiated by # of cameras, type of editing, features/menus/etc.

You shoot a music video, you know exactly how long it is (song length, right?). Now lets say they want 3 slightly different mixes/remixes after you do the first - that's not "free", right?

Weddings can vary widely... from a 15 minute "ceremony" to a multi day affair (never done one, thank goodness, but read about it here!).

I'm not sure I've seen a situation where there's a whole lot of extra "stuff" you'd be charging for (or even be able to), BUT I can see where someone says "I've got a 1 cam budget", I take the gig (bird in hand), and shoot three/four cams (maybe bird in bush TOO) - I can deliver the "1 cam" video pretty much straight to DVD, maybe even as I head out the door at the end of the ceremony... but I could also give them the full production... and charge accordingly. Good for them, good for me if they decide they want more later!
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Old July 22nd, 2007, 04:48 PM   #15
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Dave, you mentioned you're failing to see what the problem is . . and I agree . . you're missing it. The author doesn't seem to be encouraging shooting extra and then offering it to the client later, which would be fine. Instead, he is saying to tell the couple that you're covering the wedding, and then have little catches in your contract that specify the maximum number of toasts, dances, etc. and the maximum lengths for each of those.

Like I said earlier, this isn't a problem if you're going over these contract details with your couple. But if you're putting it in there and keeping it hidden within pages and pages of other legalese so you can pull it out later and "force" the couple into buying footage that they thought they were already getting . . that is bad business practice and won't get you good referrals down the road. And let's face it, anyone who has been in this business knows how important good referrals are.
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