Pricing Service Strategy: Is it time for a change?

pricing service strategyWedding professionals are often frustrated by brides and grooms don’t appreciate the value of their services. Ultimately, aside from ‘customer service,’ there are three major factors that come into play.

  • Hours of service
  • Price for product/service
  • Quality and Value of the result

One problem is traditional wedding service pricing structure. For example, DJ Entertainer and Photography pricing is quoted within the framework of ‘time in direct service with the client.’

While customary in the wedding industry, linking pricing only to face-to-face service at a wedding, or wedding and reception, drastically understates the total service time. 

A wedding couple doesn’t know how many hours it takes to prepare custom introductions, tracking drown obscure music, travel or a host of other event-specific tasks. It’s hard for the couple to understand why the price is so high (in their eyes). Hours of work at a wedding and reception are a specific measure of your effort; however, grossly incomplete. The result is more subjective. Hours of performance do not equal the value of your work.

It is not enough to show a prospect video clips of successful events and expect an instant understanding degree of difficulty. All special events have their own degree of difficulty. It’s unreasonable for your prospect to know that, going in.

If one doesn’t explain situational differences in equipment, lighting, skill level, etc., you are just hoping the prospect figures it out. Likely an unreasonable expectation.

A disc jockey, photographer, or videography service (among others) usually prices itself for a specific number of  performance hours. Travel and set up are typically not mentioned not in discussion or noted in an agreement (unless the event is outside the local market area).

What effect might occur if proposals and agreements included a ‘simple informational statement’ indicating a summary of unseen work, associated with your event service, not occurring during the reception time frame?

Effective service implementation, meeting or exceeding client expectations, includes explaining the total scope of your service, at some level.

  • Maybe this approach should become an industry-wide standard for wedding marketers?
  • What would change in the process of selling if every prospect understood you total measure of service, and its impact on a successful outcome?

I know, I’m turning wedding industry pricing and selling approach on its ear. Maybe it’s time to do that.

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

New York Times Writer (Bride) blasts Wedding Professionals

worried brideNew York Times writer and bride, Catherine Rampell, took dead aim in a December 3rd column to shred the wedding industry, en masse. The article, titled “The Wedding Fix Is In”, demonstrated a colossal amount of  frustration and ignorance. (You MUST read the article, despite the fact that your blood will come to a full boil.)

Among others, Rampell quoted

“David M. Wood, president of the Association of Bridal Consultants, said ‘part of the problem is that most brides are first-time shoppers. They are less informed about what a “fair” price is, or how long it should take to discover prices’…”

Wood’s statement is a reasonable one (shown fully in Rampell’s article). Unfortunately the article misses the point, almost entirely.

Wedding Services/Products are NOT Commodities

A Bentley gets you from point A to point B. So does a Ford Fiesta. They are both cars; however, they are not in the same universe of equivalence.

Anybody with a camera does not constitute a professional wedding photographer. The training, skills, customer rapport, and most important… their eye, constitute the totality of their craft. It is this intangibility that constitutes value and special appeal to some brides and grooms.

It is not as simple as saying, ‘You get what you pay for.” though that is often the case.

With the dawning of the internet, brides have more information than they could ever dream of, and as a result, they are overwhelmed. The more comparisons they make, it is not unusual to glaze over.

The biggest demon in planning a wedding is time. The less time allotted, the greater chance for error. A wedding is a one-shot performance (see The Sound of Music starring Carrie Underwood).

Weddings are live events. They are scheduled, not scripted. Some go well; others go into a ditch. In large part, the mistakes are not a function of money, but poor decision making. It is arrogant to believe that a first-time bride, acting as her own wedding planner, will not have regrets, in retrospect, over poor decision making.

Hiring a competent wedding planner to help manage decision making and advise on budgeting is the single most important choice a bride can make,

In the real world, there are excellent wedding professionals, average wedding professionals, and a few clowns. Brides come in a wide range, too. The most common brides are over-confident, confident, and caught-up-in-the-process. Brides with perspective, patience, and priorities get the best result.

The issue of pricing on websites is one of continuing debate, among wedding professionals. In part, because many brides have established a ‘budget’ expectation by throwing a dart a pricing board, and fail to engage in more in-depth discussion. In reality, sitting down in a business office or studio is likely to take time, and will yield a more complete understanding of that category of business, and that specific business. And yes, that takes time. Acquiring knowledge generally takes more time than just asking the price.

Simply stomping one’s feet, and complaining that the process is unfair, begs the point. Planning a wedding is complex and emotional process. A reporter’s clueless rant doesn’t enhance the process of wedding planning, one iota.

So… ‘Miz Bride, Were you look for a Bentley, a Ford Fiesta, or something in-between? And were you planning to come to the dealership and drive one, or do you just want the price over the phone?’

I’m working on a New Year’s pledge to be less snarky, but topics such as this one make it quite difficult.

I’m sure you understand.

One more thing: This post is an opinion of Andy Ebon and The Wedding Marketing Blog. You are welcome to your opinion, and are invited to post it as a comment.

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon 
Wedding Marketing Expert
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Pricing and service structure: Is it time for change?

value-for-moneyWedding professionals are often frustrated by brides and grooms don’t appreciate the value of their services. Ultimately, aside from ‘customer service,’ there are three major factors that come into play.

  • Hours of service
  • Price for product/service
  • The quality of the result

One problem is traditional wedding service pricing structure . Particularly for entertainment, photography, videography, pricing is quoted within the framework of ‘time in direct service with the client.’

Until I went through the process of being a groom, I never realized how much time a videographer or photographer spent, before and after the wedding, before presenting the finished work. 

While customary in the wedding industry, linking pricing only to face-to-face service at a wedding, or wedding and reception, drastically understates the total time of service. 

A bride doesn’t know how many hours it takes to edit one hour of raw video footage from one camera, It’s hard for her to understand why the price is $5000 or more, rather than $1000. Hours of work at a wedding and reception are a specific measure of your effort; however, grossly incomplete. The result is more subjective. Hours of shooting does not equal the value of your work.

It is not enough to show a prospect samples of your reel or portfolio photos and expect  understanding degree of difficulty. Shooting a sunset wedding, has a high degree of difficulty. If one doesn’t explain situational differences in equipment, lighting, skill level, etc., you are just hoping the prospect figures it out. Likely an unreasonable expectation.

A Disc Jockey service or Live Band prices itself for a specific number of  performance hours. Travel and set up are typically not mentioned not in discussion or noted in an agreement (unless the event is outside the local market area).

What effect might it have were proposals and agreements included a ‘simple informational statement’ indicating a summary of unseen work, associated with your event service, not occurring during the reception time frame?

Effective service implementation, meeting or exceeding client expectations, includes explaining the total scope of your service, at some level.

  • Maybe this approach should become an industry-wide standard for wedding marketers?
  • What would change in the process of selling if every prospect understood you total measure of service, and its impact on a successful outcome?

I know, I’m turning wedding industry pricing and selling approach on its ear. Maybe it’s time we do that.

I invite your specific comments, and how you think this might apply within your slice of the wedding industry.

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon
Wedding Marketing Expert
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Making it easier to be your customer, through improved efficiency

efficiency-blocksAs I write this post, I’m sipping coffee at a Starbucks. This store is right next door to an Einstein’s Bagels. Just needed a change this morning.

Recently, Starbucks has made some significant adjustment in pricing and is on a big campaign for its new, instant coffee, VIA. By the way, I’m throughly amused that they have implemented the descriptive phrase, Ready Brew, as opposed the old school phrase, instant coffee.

VIA Ready Brew
VIA Ready Brew

What struck me within the last month is their change-simple pricing. Essentially, when one buy a Grande-size coffee and a pastry of andy kind, the price is $4 even. Same thing with just a Grande coffee, it’s $2 even.

This is unlikely to be a random event. One of the challenges in a morning coffee joint is speed. Highly tuned volume operations measure everything, down to seconds and keystrokes. It seems likely that Starbucks efficiency department determined how many seconds (then minutes) could be saved by minimizing the need to make change on the most common orders/transactions.

By adjusting the pricing, accordingly, customer wait time has been reduced, making for happier patrons and the ability to process more transaction (selling more coffee and other products).

A question you might ask  is: “What have I done later to be more efficient, generally? Specifically in ways that directly affect the prospect/client?”

It is easy to be effective. Not as easy to be efficient.

What can you do to simplify, and make it easier to be your client?

If this resonates with you, please comment on what processes, policies, pricing more efficient.

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Blog