In the past few months, I have discovered TED Talks. I’m astounded that it has taken me so long to delve into this wonderful resource. TED stands for Technology, Education, and Design, and it is a nonprofit dedicated to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” They hold conferences all over the world, where dynamic speakers with different topics and from different backgrounds aim to inspire and teach us.
For the most part, the talks that I have watched haven’t really applied to my photography business. Until I stumbled upon a talk by Sheena Iyengar, a Columbia Business School professor. You can watch her entire talk on increasing sales by cutting choices, but I have broken it down for you below and how it applies to your photography business.
Imagine you are at the grocery store, and someone has a booth set up for you to sample all of their varieties of jellies. There are over 20 varieties to sample and choose from!
Now, you continue your shopping, and someone else is sampling types of crackers. There are 3 different ones to sample.
Here is the million dollar question: Are you more likely to purchase one of the jellies or one of the crackers?
Statistically speaking, while you are more likely to stop and sample the jellies, you are much more likely to purchase one of the cracker varieties over the jellies, simply because there are fewer options to choose from.
It seems almost counterintuitive. You figure if you give more options for people to choose from, you are more likely to cater to a larger variety of people. Logical, right?
However, when people are presented with too many options to choose from, they shut down and avoid making the decision all together. Our brains are not equipped to categorize, then choose, when there are too many options. Basically, it’s harder to compare the differences between the 20 different varieties of jellies vs. the 3 different varieties of crackers for us to make a decision we are happy with.
In her talk, Iyengar gives several other examples about making choices. She also gives 4 techniques for businesses and how they present their product offerings:
- Condition for Complexity
I’ll discuss all of these at length, and how you can use these different techniques in your photography business.
#1 – Cut
Cut the number of choices for your clients. This one was covered in the above example at the grocery store. You are the business owner responsible for helping your client choose what is best for them. Apple does this perfectly. Their product offerings are always straightforward and simple. As an example,when selecting a computer or laptop, you have the smallest, middle, and top options. That’s it.
You can use this information towards how many print options you offer, how many different types of sessions, or how many images you present.
For instance, if your printing company has 8 different finishes for an 8X10 print to choose from, only give 1 or 2 as finishing choices. The client will be less overwhelmed. If you want to cater to those who may want more finishing choices, put a note in your pricing, i.e. More finishing options upon request.
Try to limit the number of different types of sessions you offer. Pick a single difference between your sessions and form them based on that difference.
In regards to the images you present, there is a sweet spot. You present too little, the client will struggle to find many images they like. However, if you present too many, the client will be overwhelmed with trying to pick between the poses. Your job at the photographer is to cull those images down and present the top images and reduce the stress for your client. You reduce the stress, their choice will be easier and much more enjoyable. And, most importantly, you will increase your photography sales!
#2 – Concrete
Make your clients’ decisions real and concrete. It will help your clients not only choose wisely, but also make them feel better about their decision. An example of this presented in Iyengar’s TED Talk, people were willing to invest more money into their retirement funds when they were asked to think about positive things in their lives and their reasons for saving.
Let’s go back to how this applies to your photography business. What concrete thing are you giving your clients? Memories, an experience, artwork for their walls? In-person ordering is where you can really capitalize on this technique. You can talk to your clients face-to-face and ask them questions such as:
How do you plan on displaying these memories in your home?
What are some of your favorite moments from the session?
Which images are your favorites and why?
By asking your clients these questions, are you allowing them to think and reflect about these images how much these images mean to them. You can take it one step further by showing them how your photos will look on their walls in their house with an app called Preveal. This will truly show your clients a concrete and real example of the memories they will be purchasing from you.
#3 – Categorize
If there is no choice but to offer a lot of choices, your best bet for presenting them to clients is to categorize them. Essentially, you are taking the initiative to do the categorization for your clients, rather than having them do it and risking them being overwhelmed with the decision.
When categorizing your products, you should keep the number of categories down as well. According to the studies, Iyengar discovered that people had an easier and more enjoyable time choosing a magazine when hundreds of magazines were divided into 4 categories vs. 20 categories.
As far as your photography business is concerned, this will directly apply to how your products are presented. Which one do you think categorizes your products in a way that makes it easier for the client to choose:
Categorization Option #1 – Prints, Wall Displays, and Albums OR
Categorization Option #2 – Gift Prints, Large Prints, Gallery Wraps, Storyboard Standouts, Coffee Table Books, and Albums
I don’t know about you, but my brain would have a much easier time processing option #1 vs. option #2. I can jump right to what I’m interested in, and then have more brain power left over to think about any additional products I would like. I know it seems trivial in the grand scheme of making more money, however the simpler the decision for your clients, the more likely they are to spend more.
This can apply to all of your product offerings, including the types of sessions and print packages.
#4 – Condition for Complexity
Huh? So far, these techniques have been pretty straightforward, but what the heck does “Condition for Complexity” mean? This is best explained with how you choose options for a new car.
If you have ever bought (or even browsed) for a new car online, you have experienced use of this technique. Let’s pretend you are going to build your brand new car. You go online and select the model and begin the customization process. Which of these two scenarios would be easier and more enjoyable for you:
– Your first choice is what color the car will be. You have 12 different colors to choose from.
– Next, you move onto the fabric choices, and for that customization option, you have 6 different choices.
– Finally, you have to choose between manual or automatic transmission.
– First, you have the choice between manual or automatic transmission.
– Next, you choose the fabric. You have 6 different choices of fabric for your car.
– Finally, you get to choose the color of the car. There are 12 different colors to choose from.
You probably noticed the difference between the two scenarios. Scenario #1 goes from the most choices to the least choices, and scenario #2 goes the opposite direction. This technique recommends you present your products and choices for your clients in order of the simplest decision to the most complex decision.
This circles back around to technique #1. If a client is forced to make a difficult decision at first with many choices, they are more likely to check-out and abandon the process all together.
How does this apply to your photography business? When your client is going through the process of making a decision on prints, keep the most simple decisions first. You may already be doing this by determining what type of session your clients want first (senior, wedding, family, etc.) before moving forward with what they plan to order.
Even after the session or wedding is completed, you have a chance to apply this technique. When discussing what your client wants to order, maybe establish if they want prints, digital files, or both. Then go more in-depth with what types of prints they want and/or how many digital files they would like to purchase. Keep the simple choices first, and you make it an easier decision process for your clients.
Are you offering too many choices?
There is one easy way to find out. If your clients are constantly asking questions about your product offerings or if you are seeing your clients not utilizing the different options presented to them, you may be offering too many or too complex of choices. I strongly recommend everyone reading this article go and do an analysis of your pricing based on these techniques. According to Iyengar’s research, you should see an increase in sales!
In fact, here is the perfect example to motivate you. Proctor and Gamble went from 20 different kinds of Head and Shoulders to 15, only a reduction of 5 products. After that change, they saw an increase of 10% in sales. A 10% increase for a small reduction in their product offerings! To me, that is well worth your time and effort to make sure you are following these 4 techniques.
|Technique Name||Technique Summary||Example of Applying Technique|
|Cut||Lower the number of options for your clients to choose from.||Offer 2 finishing options vs. 5.|
|Concrete||Show the tangible benefits of your client’s decision.||Use Preveal to show clients how your photos will look displayed in their home.|
|Categorize||Sort your products into categories to make your client’s decision easier.||Organize your products into 3 categories (Prints, Wall Displays, Albums).|
|Condition for Complexity||Order your client’s decisions from easiest to most complex.||Ask questions with fewer choices first.|