So says Lauren, in one of Microsoft's latest commercials.
Now, I'm not saying Microsoft isn't cool. They have some awesome applications - like Expression Media, Sea Dragon, and so on, and they are spending much more time being photographer-centric. In fact, I run a HP Windows Home Server in my office with 7.5TB of storage space so I can access my archives from the road. However, Lauren IS suggesting she's not cool enough to be a mac person, and she's shopping price alone.
Video: Laptop Hunters $1000 - Lauren Gets an HP Pavilion
We can presume Lauren is shopping features and quality, and she says something to the effect that "I got everything I want", but let's discuss price-shopping, since that is the point of this commercial.
*** UPDATE *** Gizmodo found Lauren, and she's an actress in LA - Someone Found Microsoft's Lauren! And She's an Actress.
(Continued after the Jump)
What Lauren has done is commoditize her laptop. What our clients sometimes try to do is commoditize photography, and the lowest price wins. Clients like this are not loyal. I know that the economy is down, but Nordstrom's fourth quarter sales which included the holiday shopping season showed profits up 22%, and fourth quarter sales increased by 15%. Nordtroms customers don't walk in and focus on price, they focus on the level of service. "Nordstrom thrives on providing legendary experiences through unbelievable customer service, which result in customer folklore and the most powerful word-of-mouth marketing possible", and other stories abound here on the subject.
On the photography business side of what we do, customer service is key. We deliver a premium product, and when, like yesterday, the client said "oh, we need to get 7 photos e-mailed to us today for distribution", my answer is the same as it ALWAYS IS. "That's no problem at all. There's a nominal additional charge for that, but we are happy to take care of it." The client today, asked, as about half of them do "ok, do you know about how much?" I responded "yes, as outlined in our paperwork, it's $65 per image we prepare and send out". The clients response? "Ok, that's fine." Later on that day, I conveyed to the client "A number of the people we've photographed have asked about being able to download images, would you like us to set up an online gallery where they can do that?" The clients response? "Yes, that's a good idea." In both cases, we solved the clients problems or needs, despite having several other things we had to tend to that day. This client was not a price shopper, they were a quality service shopper.
Almost all our clients are quality-and-service-first clients. But the question is, how do you get those clients? Easy - it takes patience.
The question often put to inexpensive photographers is - would you rather do 10 $1,000 weddings, or 1 $10,000 wedding? Well, the fact is - $1k weddings beget $1k weddings. The decor is usually minimal, and the scenery that makes for a potentially great wedding album (and thus, portfolio) isn't there. It may take more effort and time to book the one $10k wedding initially, but once you get the word-of-mouth ball rolling, booking $10k weddings is usually not much harder than booking a $1k wedding, relatively speaking.
We still do get calls from clients who want to pay a pittance, or want all rights. We treat them just like those who are not price shoppers or rights grabbers, up until they decide to use someone else, and 90% of the time that's the case, and that's ok. We move on. Over time, the 10% that go with us realize the value of what we offer, and are lifetime clients. Occasionally, they will stray, but usually they come back after a bad experience with another photographer.
However, statistics suggest that for 1 in 5 prospective clients, price is only a detail, not a deciding factor. Over time, "collecting" just the 1 in 5 clients that have this perspective, will yield a client base that is sustainable. This is what we have done. It's not rocket science. We never put ourselves in a position where we had to accept a bad deal. Thus, over time, fair deals with fair and reasonable clients, are what constitutes our client base.
Today, before I had arrived back to the office, I spoke with the client and she said she had raved to her boss back in the company headquarters in their home state about how great it was to work with us, and she made a point about asking for my card at the shoot. My Office Manager sent me an e-mail phone message quoting the client as telling her we had done ". . .a fantastic job. Just wonderful."
Will Jill have a break/fix incident that requires her to ship her computer somewhere, or make a call to Bangalore where she gets further frustrated? Likely, Jill would opt out of the additional $250 3-year Applecare service contract that is regarded as a "must have" for a laptop purchase? Apple has such significant brand loyalty because of customer service, ease of use, and ease of troubleshooting. How many lost hours of productivity, or interruptions in a business day will Jill have that will end up costing her client revenue because she went with the cheap laptop? How much will Jill spend with break/fix incident calls when something isn't working? Consider that a Panasonic Toughbook, for example (yes - they run Windows!) is $5k or more. These machines are designed to take abuse, be on the road, and so on. Further, Panasonic's customer service for these machines is exceptional. With a $1k machine you're getting older/slower technology, and shaved corners on things like soldiering, or sub-standard CD drives.
Avoid being the cheapest. Strive for a clientele that pays you what you are asking. Like Nordstroms, during a downturn in the economy, it will be much easier to weather the storm if your clients are not so price-focused, and are more results and service oriented.
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