Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Power of the Upsell

"Would you like some fries with that?"

Everyone I know, certainly almost everyone in the civilized world has been upsold on something. From fries, to dessert at the end of a meal that you didn't plan on having. Heck, "would you like bottled water, or tap?" is such a profit center for restaurants, NPR did a piece on it.

Just how, then, can you upsell? Photo Packaging for Professional Photographers did a nice piece on the benefits of proper packaging/presentation, writing:

“That photograph would look absolutely lovely in a frame. Shall I show you our framing options? I can offer you a reduced price on the frame since you have already decided to buy from us.”
Ok though, if you're not in the retail photo business, what can you upsell as editorial or corporate/commercial photographers?

ANSWER: Retouching, e-mails, additional CD's, rush turnarounds, on-site printing, a second photographer, make-up services, and so on.

Retouching is integral to many portraits we do, and many a client has expressed concern about bags under their eyes, pimples, facial blemishes, and wrinkles. While we include a nominal/baseline amount of retouching for portraits we do for clients, extensive retouching, like the removal of double/triple-chins, tie changes, and so forth, are upsell options, and clients welcome this flexibility.

E-mails may well be one of the many services that photographers simply give away. When we conclude an assignment, our work on behalf of that client ends, until we sit down to do their post production over the next 48 hours (our delivery commitment is that the post will be done in 2 business days). However, many clients need immediate access to one to five images, meaning that our work for the client does not end when the camera is put away. We need to make time to immediately process the best images from the event, and e-mail them. That additional work carries an additional charge - $65 each to be exact - and many a client is more than happy to pay that. We often counsel the client to only request one or two, because that's all they really need, however, I have had clients request as many as 27. You do the math.

Speaking of rush services, that too is a service we offer. We put the images in our queue, and process images in the order they were shot. As you all know, post-production takes time, even with the fastest computers. If you want to hop to the front of that line, that'll be a rush charge. For commercial/PR events, with a normal turnaround of two business days, if you want it turned around in 1 business day, add 100% to that. For same day/ASAP turnaround, add 200%.

Extra CD's? No problem. Heck, design departments ad ad agencies and design firms charge their clients $100 to make a copy of a CD. I charge comparably - 50% of whathever the charge was for the first CD. So, if CD output of an assignment incurred a $75 charge, then it's $37.50 for a second. If the CD charge was $175, then it's $87.50. Just three days ago, a client ordered two additional copies of a CD. No problem, we say.

For on-site printing, which is a staple of many an event photographer, we do it only upon request. It's not something I regularily do or offer, however, we have the capability, and do it upon request, more than as an upsell. It can be cost prohobitive for the client, but if it's needed, we'll do it.

Sometimes, an event is so large, that one photographer can't do it alone. Rather than have the client search and shop around for a second, we offer to provide it ourselves. There are many more reasons to handle it ourselves than the upsell, and that deserves it's own blog entry, or you could read about it on page 179 of the book.

Make-up often is a critical component of an assignment, so it's not always seen as an upsell. If we're responsible for paying the makeup person, it's getting a nominal markup for our handling of it.

Lastly, is the extended rights package. If the client is asking for one time use, but you feel they'll want to use it for other projects, offering that to them - upfront - can generate additional assignment revenue, and increase the benefit and usefulness of your images to the client in the long run.

There are many ways to increase your revenue on any given assignment. This increase is, of course, beneficial to you, however, in the end, the client truly sees the value in what you're offering, or they wouldn't choose to make the added expense. It just doesn't hurt to ask!

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.


Anonymous said...

I hate it when I go to the Post Office and they are trying to up sell me insurance, more stamps, envelopes, etc.

I quit going to my local post office and now drive a mile to go to a smaller facility that gave up on trying to upsell their customers - they got too many complaints about upsell techniques.

Photography clients, different story. Different situation.

I am very aware of how vendors try to upsell me. I resent most of their efforts.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that up-sell suggestions are being substituted as bargain incentives to land the photographer the job. But hey, what's a rights package to offer if you don't get the job in the first place huh?

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