My New Guarantee: The Smartest Thing I’ve Done in a Long Time

Wedding photographers should sell based on value, not price. Getting business by undercutting everyone else is the fast way to the bottom. Bargain hunters don’t have any loyalty, and there’s always going to be someone even more desperate than you are.

What other choices are there for the new photographer, who can’t afford to attend bridal shows, or send out bulk mailers? First, you need a hook, otherwise known as a Unique Selling Proposition (UPS for short). Anything you do that is uniquely yours and adds value can be a hook. The trick is finding something that you can offer that costs little, but creates value for the client. It’s just like investment: buy low, sell high.

Let’s talk today about guarantees, a great way to create extra value from services you already offer, or can offer for little to no cost. First, think about what you do and pick out something that could be turned into something interesting. Do you always get your images processed and uploaded to your website (or wherever) in 2 weeks? That can be a guarantee. Next, pad that time (just in case) a little bit.

Your guarantee is now “Your images uploaded in 20 days or…”

Fill in that ‘or else’ statement with something that raises your client’s eyebrows and you got it. How about “or your wedding album is free.” That’s pretty good! However, it’s good to make this personal. A guarantee is an offer to trust you, so you should make it come from you. If a big corporation has a spokesperson, that person is the one who makes the guarantee. You go to Wendy’s, and you get a guarantee not from Corporate Wendys, but from Dave, their calming, grandfatherly (now dead, but that’s not stopping him) spokesman. Personal guarantees hit on an emotional level, not an intellectual one (Emotion trumps logic every time), and that’s good.

Anyway, to make it personal, we go from “Your images uploaded in 20 days or I buy your wedding album for you!” That sounds pretty good! And it doesn’t cost you a dime as long as you hit that mark. The best thing about guarantees is that if you always hit your mark, you get all the psychological benefit of your ‘or else’ statement without having to lay out any actual money or effort. You’ve just added value, and your wallet is still firmly entrenched in your wallet.

Here’s my UPS and where it came from:

I was on my way to a shoot the other day, and I saw a billboard for a used car sales place. The billboard said “We will beat ANY advertised price, or we’ll give you the car for FREE!” Well that’s catchy! AND bullshit! Think about it: How much variance in price will there be amongst themselves and their competition? Probably not much. It’s all based on local economics and that particular car’s Blue Book value. At what point would it be better to give away a (let’s say) $12,000 car, rather than take a (let’s say) $1500 loss to beat an advertised price?

Never. This got me thinking: what guarantees can I offer that don’t cost much (or anything), but generate a lot of value?

Here’s what I’ve come up with: All my bridal clients get free christmas pictures for the first 5 years! That’s pretty cool, and it doesn’t cost me a darn thing. After all, how much do you spend on your portrait sittings? You’ve got shooting time, processing time, batteries, gas and reminder emails or mailers. And what do I get from this? I get clients eager to come back to me, regularly. I become a pattern and a off-the-top-of-the-head referral. That’s good!

This is new for me. We’ll see how it goes. I’ll be sure to keep you posted! Next, I’m going to talk about my kick-ass personal project!


  1. I’ve been trying to make my business more ‘personal’ to get repeat business. I really like your idea of giving your bridal clients free christmas pictures for the first 5 years!

    One question though. How long have you been offering this? If you did, say, 10 weddings a year, could you end up doing 50 free photoshoots in December at the end of year 5 ??

    I’ve been reading your blog for the last few months and it’s very enjoyable and informative. Keep up the good work!

  2. This is a brand new idea I’m trying out. I might change it to one portrait session a year, and it could be for a variety of things! I hadn’t considered the backup created in December…

    Thanks for the comment!

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