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Op-Ed: The Perceived Value of Video
Posted Mar 1, 2007 Print Version     Page 1of 1

Perceived value is the intangible factor that can make or break a business. It's all about image. Image, image, image! As wedding videographers, that's what's hurting us as an industry at this point in time—we have a poor image and what we do is undervalued. Many factors have contributed to this problem, one being the under-pricing of our services which is the main topic I'd like to address.
 Is jewelry from Tiffany really worth thousands of dollars more than other fine jewelry? I'm not sure it is, but everyone wants Tiffany. Why? Because it's Tiffany! The perceived value of Tiffany is very high. It has an image with which people want to be associated. What's the difference between a $10,000 photographer and a $5,000 photographer? It's not $5,000; it's the image. The $10,000 photographer perceives his value to be very high and he projects that value through all his actions and how he promotes himself.

Now, I'm not saying you should overcharge your clients. I'm merely suggesting that you charge what you're worth, and only you can determine that amount. We appreciate our clients and it has always been our policy to give them an exceptional value for their hard-earned dollars; however, that doesn't mean we give our services away. Unfortunately we weren't always so smart, and over the last 20 years we've had our share of mistakes.

We videographers are such softies! When a bride looks at us with those big, sad eyes, we just fall apart. As soon as she mentions budget we start to crumble. She'll say, "I love your work but the price is just not in my budget," and we feel miserable because we truly love video and we think every bride deserves the best video ever made.

Let me pose this question: Does every bride deserve a three-carat flawless diamond? Well, perhaps she deserves it, but she's not entitled to it.

The trouble here is that the price resistance is already a problem-in-effect before the bride even reaches your studio door. Due to the current low perceived value of video, she has simply not budgeted adequately for a quality video.

When you meet with her and show her samples of your work, she instantly recognizes the value of your product. This sends her into inner turmoil because she has just seen something she wants, and wants badly. Herein lies the quandary: she has only budgeted perhaps a third of what she needs to pay to contract your services.

In this type of situation, it is often best to let a bride leave, and give her time to adjust. She meticulously worked out a budget and has been focused on those numbers for weeks, if not months. It is unrealistic to expect her to resign herself to a video for triple the cost she estimated in mere minutes. People simply do not regroup that quickly. If you allow her time to adapt and rework the numbers, there's a very good chance she'll call you back.

But wait! What about those big, sad eyes? She's nice and you can tell she really wants your video, and you really want this job. Plus, you're worried that if you let her go she may not call back. So you lower your price.

Her wedding day comes and goes, you deliver the video, and she loves it. You're thrilled she's happy and your heart soars like a hawk. Then she says she likes the video better than the pictures—way better. Now you're really on cloud nine. Then what happens? Next year when her sister's getting married they come back and want the same video for the same discounted price.

Worse yet, they're willing to pay the photographer twice what they are paying you without batting an eye, even when they liked the video better. Why is that? It's because the photographer has set his value as a given, therefore they accept his price.

This is the vicious cycle we create for ourselves and from which we need to break free. There will be times when you have to let a bride go because she truly can't afford you. That is just the nature of business.

For those of you who still can't say no because of your kind hearts, it's also important to note that when you give a bride a discount, I assure you, the money she's saving is not going into a college fund for her children's education. That money is going to another vendor.

In business there is definitely a place for incentives, specials, and give-aways. These practices are used to make the company a profit. However, if a company is undercharging to begin with these tactics can lead to business suicide.

The practice of under-pricing ourselves contributes to the low perceived value of video, which affects everyone in this industry. When we lower our price it sends a message to our clients that we were not worth what we were charging to begin with. We cheapen ourselves, and in today's western society, products that are cheap are not held in high regard.

If you can charge what you're worth you will increase your perceived value which will improve your image, which in turn will bring you more business and respect. Each individual company that can improve its image will benefit itself and help to raise the perceived value of wedding video in general, to the benefit of all. We can do this—one company at a time!

Laura Moses is half of Vantage Point Productions of San Dimas, California. She and her husband, Steve, are winners of multiple international awards and were recently selected to the 2006 EventDV 25.

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