Ideas Hold Value. Charge Accordingly.

What sets you apart from your competition? Is it the fact that you shoot with a RED and your competition shoots with a T3i? Is it that you use Pro Photo flash lights and your competition uses Alien Bees? Or maybe you edit on an Avid and your competition uses Final Cut Pro X. While having better equipment is a reason to add more to your rates, for your sake, I hope that’s not all that sets you apart.

In the world of professional photography and film production, perhaps more than anything else, your ideas should be what sets you apart from other companies. Ideas will help define your style. Ideas are behind great storytelling. Ideas come in many forms:

  • Concepts
  • Lighting
  • Direction
  • Marketing
  • Style

When sharing ideas with potential clients, you need to carefully balance how much you reveal with how much you don’t. You want to get a prospect excited enough to hire you, but you want to hold just enough of the cards where they need YOU to do the job vs. taking your idea to someone else.

When I changed the name of my company a few years ago, one of the other things I changed was how I described what it is we do. I stopped saying we were a “video production company” and begin referring to us as something that was much closer to reality: a new media marketing and production agency. That is how I wanted my clients to see us because we are more than just “camera jockeys”. If you were going to hire us, you knew you were paying somewhat of a premium because it is our ideas that separates us from a contractor who has a fancy camera and a steadicam.

So when you set your rates and when you communicate to the world what it is you do, make sure they know 1) you’re a studio of great ideas, and most importantly 2) you can actually execute on them.

One thought on “Ideas Hold Value. Charge Accordingly.

  1. In the wedding industry, we see business owners not charging for samples and design concepts. The thought is that “the client should see what I can do before they purchase”. I don’t agree. The client SHOULD BE purchasing those ideas. By giving them to the client before they’ve hired you (without any payment) it: a) downplays the value of those ideas and b) leaves money on the table c) costs the business (in labor and materials to put together those design concepts). As creative businesses, it’s often the idea that has the greatest value in what we sell.

    Nobody would ask a painter to paint a ‘customized sample’ before he or she was commissioned to do an art piece. A painter is commissioned to create based on his/her ideas and creativity. (Reputation, trust, experience, and skill is what gets the customer to move forward without the ‘customized sample’. We need to be confident in these factors.)

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