Are your clients satisficers or optimisers? Recently, a lecturer explained the distinction, which came up in my Business to Business Marketing lecture. Something today triggered me to think about thought more about it terms of photography…

Someone saw me taking photos on campus and came up and asked if I would cover her event (a residence formal or similar), but I said I wasn’t taking on more events for now (due to other work and stress). The interesting thing is that she’d never met me before, but was willing pay me money to photograph and event which is probably of importance to her. She is a “satisficer” – someone who chooses the first option out of convenience.

I’ve had strangers at events ask me before if I would take photos at their or their friends’s 21st, wedding, etc. Sometimes they had seen my work on my camera. Other times they just see me snapping away with a reasonable sized flash, lens and camera at a event, then assume that I am a professional or that I do events as a main income (and they are usually surprised to hear I am just a student). These people are satificers – without asking rates or evidence of my ability, they ask if I will cover their event. Or occasionally a girl or guy I’ve never met sees me on campus or at event with my camera asks if I do model portfolios and if I will do theirs.

I would expect satisficers are associated with low budget events, weddings, shoots… since they aren’t willing to do a lot of research into alternative photographers, or they compare the price I quote to one price they’ve been quoted before, which makes me look cheaper or more expensive.

The other type is “optimisers”, who gather more information to make the best decision, even if it takes longer or more work. I assume these clients would be associated with larger budget shoots – larger budget 21sats, expensive weddings or a magazine cover. The clients will be looking for somewith with a strong portfolio and history, someone trusted and respected as a contact, or recommended by one of their close contacts.

How could you apply the distinction between satisficers and optimisers in marketing, or photograph specifically? I don’t like giving my rates on the spot, since it depends on the nature and length of the shoot or event. When someone with no experience in modelling and didn’t seem like someone I could add to my portfolio, I used to give my web address and e-mail anyway they could follow up. As as a satisfier, they were quick to get my details, but very few of them actually followed up with an e-mail. This tells me they were not really serious about the shoot in general, or were not serious about working with me (since they actually knew little about me). I like to be polite and help everyone, but that doesn’t work well in business. I realised that its okay to turn down jobs if I don’t have the time to handle a shoot, or a client doesn’t offer me value.

I think the optimisers are the clients they are more desirable. Instead of only going on a recommendation, whey will probably research your history and ability thoroughly, and compare your skill and rates with similar people. If they decide on you, they will be commited since they decided out of 5 or 10 options, they like you the best. And that doesn’t mean you gave them the lowest price. It means you give them the best value, which takes into account their convience, personal relationship with you, trust that you will deliver reliably… or maybe best value to them means that you take the best pictures out of the other photographers who quoted the same price as you, or hopefully that they believe your style is unique and appropriate for their vision of their event or photoshoot.

Have you heard of the terms satisficer and optimiser before? If you haven’t, can you now recognise them in range of clients? Leave comments below if you like.

If post regular photos on my FB page if you want to see what I do.