Should you ask a client for their budget when building a corporate headshot photography pricing strategy? Maybe. But maybe not. Learn more.
Putting pencil to paper and building a quote for a business seems intense, let’s walk you through it
Pitching your corporate headshot photography pricing to a CEO or business owner can feel really, really daunting the first few times. It’s one thing to quote your family or senior pricing to a potential client. By now, you understand pricing basics. You know your costs of doing business. Now it’s simply a matter of working with the client to define the project’s scope and committing to a price. And that can be the most stressful part of all.
Why is there so little information on headshot photography pricing?
Few articles for corporate headshot photographers offer much in terms of actual pricing strategy. Private photography sessions, such as seniors and families, are all very similar from one client to the next. But the scope for headshot sessions can vary wildly.
A small non-profit might want a few really great environmental shots of their executive director for their brochure. A large real estate firm, on the other hand, might request separate images of every agent to use on social media, business cards. The local school district could need basic headshots of every employee for their ID badges.
The one-price-fits-most model just doesn’t work well when it comes to corporate photo sessions. The number of people, editing requirements, and licensing usage is unique to each client.
Instead of set prices, you’ll probably want to develop a base full-day rate and provide custom quotes based on the client’s needs, travel time, editing, and more.
You know to ask who will be involved, what the images will be used for, and what type of aesthetic they hope to achieve.
But should you ask about a client’s budget?
Many sales and consulting courses recommend inquiring about budget upfront. When I worked in public relations and built marketing campaigns, it was a common question I got as the project lead.
So it was somewhat surprising to find asking a client about their budget to be such a polarizing topic among professional photographers. So should you ask it?
Check out the discussion and make up your own mind about requesting a project budget when you’re building a proposal for corporate photography jobs.
Why you should know your client’s budget
Knowing your client’s budget early on helps move the relationship forward.
Setting expectations early on makes everyone happy. There’s nothing worse than wasting time crafting a proposal for a $5,000 job only to hear the potential client tell you “Oh wow, we thought it would be around $500.”
Talking budget also determines the true scope of the project and manages expectations. If your home buying budget is $3 million, for example, a realtor isn’t going to show you a 3 bedroom townhouse fixer-upper. Likewise, you don’t roll into the Jaguar dealership looking to buy a car for your son if you’ve got a $5,000 budget.
Why the budget question makes some people cringe
Asking questions about money can make things awkward. It shouldn’t because we are business people talking to other business people. But yeah, we get weird about money.
Here are some arguments against asking for the client’s budget. You might:
- Make the client feel uncomfortable
- Lead the client to believe you’ll pad your numbers to swallow up their budget
- Let the client believe they can dictate your price
- Want to connect with clients on more than price
Tips on how to ask for the client’s budget
If you feel asking about budget should be part of your client meeting, here are some things to keep in mind.
Do: Provide a basic range for your corporate headshot photography pricing
List a starting price on your company website or in your initial conversations. With a basic range of pricing on the table, you and your client can begin to discuss specifics.
Don’t: Create the feeling of mistrust
Providing a quote solely on how much the customer will pay is shady and will bite you in the end.
Don’t: Lead with the money question
This client might not be a good fit, but jumping right to budget just isn’t a good business practice.
Do: Ask open-ended questions about the business and goals
These questions help you get to know the business better. You’ll learn their expectations and potential pain points. Great questions include:
- Tell me a little bit about your business.
- What do you love about your current headshots or corporate imagery?
- What do you want to change about your current headshots or corporate image?
- Tell me about your expectations for this project.
- Have you worked with other headshot photographers in the past? What did you like or dislike about the process?
Don’t: Be pushy if they hesitate to name a figure
People are weird about money. We just are. If the potential client hesitates or refuses to give you a range, that’s okay.
Do: Explain why you’re asking about their budget
Clarify why you’re asking for the budget by saying something such as “Knowing your budget helps me understand what I can do to meet your needs.”
You can also simply be honest. Tell your client, “My approach is to be honest off the bat. If my terms don’t fit with your expectations, we know this upfront and I can help you find alternative options.”
Do: Keep things positive
If you and the client simply aren’t a good fit, financially, find another way to serve them. Keep the relationship positive. Refer them to photographers who meet their budget.
Remember you’re the photography expert.
Your clients truly probably don’t know what photographers charge or all the work that goes into a great headshot. They don’t understand your investment in shoot time, travel time, and editing and go into headshot photography. They only see a single final image. Use this opportunity to educate and demonstrate your skills!
Asking about budget upfront is a personal decision. It can feel uncomfortable. But it can also move you past that financial elephant in the room and fast-track conversations beyond price so you can focus on making clients look and feel amazing. Try it and see what works best for your business!
Written by TERESA MILNER | Photographs by IMAGES BY GENEVA, GENEVA WASHINGTON via Two Bright Lights