Conversations that happen among photographers often start with comments like “Groupon is bad” and continue with statements about how it’s a devaluing factor for the industry. Many believe that the more people see super cheap deals on professional photography, the more they will come to expect them.
As an example, check out this
insanely discounted photography deal on LivingSocial (link removed due to expiration of the deal on LivingSocial). Do you think it’s wrong for photographers to make offers like this? Is it a sign of desperation? Conversations about deals like this often lead to speculation about how the photographer can possibly be making any money.
In my experience, these types of conversations happen a lot among photographers who are trying to build their businesses and price their products and services appropriately. Some of those conversations lead to a thorough analysis filled with fuzzy math. It starts with a calculation of the price of the deal, multiplied by the number sold, and goes on until they reach the conclusion that the photographer is actually losing money because of the extremely low hourly rate they are getting.
Why do they care? Do they REALLY believe some photographer in Timbuktu who’s selling three hour portrait sessions for $10 has any real impact on the industry as a whole? I’m not buying it. When you get an amazing deal on something, do you really believe that discounted price is the standard you should expect from every other professional in the industry?
As a cost conscious consumer I love Groupon. I’m still placing orders for the four gallery wrapped canvases I bought the last time I participated in one. I doubt I’d ever use Groupon in my own marketing mix as a photographer, but I’m sure many have found it very helpful as a kind of “loss leader” for building awareness of their new or growing business. I say good for them, as long as they aren’t ripping anybody off. Even Duct Tape Marketer John Jantsch says the Groupon Train is Worth a Small Business Ride.
Where do you stand on this issue? Does it upset you when people in your industry deeply discount their products or services?
Cartoon courtesy of Tom Fishburne, the Marketoonist