Understanding Perceived Value

How much value someone places on your work depends a lot on how much value you place on your own work – and how you portray that value.My first photo stand at an art fair

Last weekend, I took my artwork to an arts fair for the first time, to dip my toes in the waters of selling some of my photographs.

The biggest question on my mind as I was preparing for the event was “How much do I sell my photo’s for?”

So I did some research into the prices people charge for their prints and came across a psychological idea I have never really thought too much about before:

People perceive the value of something to be in direct relation to how much that thing costs.

In other words, if you don’t charge much for something then people will think (perceive) that it’s not worth very much. If, however, you charge a lot for it, then people will assume that it has some kind of greater value than they are seeing and will be more likely to buy it.

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of this in the art world, such as the rumor that if an art gallery is having trouble selling a piece of art, they may actually RAISE its price to add perceived value, or the story of a guy who was failing to sell his art at art fairs for $50 a piece ,who then could barely keep up with demand when he started charging $250 for the same artwork.

My challenge therefore was to think of my own products as having value and then have the courage to price them accordingly.

For example….

If I try to sell a print of a photograph for $5 and the woman next to me is selling hers for $250, the buyer is going to wonder what they’re missing about hers that make them so much more valuable than mine. Psychologically, many people will tend then to believe that her photo’s are ‘better’, even if they can’t tell the difference themselves.

A $5 photo is something you can throw away with barely a second thought. A $250 photo is a treasured artwork that has value to you because, if nothing else, you paid a lot for it.

It doesn’t matter what the ‘product’ is, perceived value has a huge psychological effect – and you cannot give something perceived value without valuing it highly yourself.

How about you?

Take your time, for instance. How much do you value your time?

Those of us who are self-employed have the constant battle of deciding how much to charge people for our time – and how much we charge can actually affect what our clients think of our work.

If I charge one dollar an hour for my time, then my clients’ perception will be that my work is not worth very much.

If I charge $50 an hour though, the client has to ask themselves whether I’m ‘worth’ the money – and it suggests to them that I am , because the price tag says so!

The initial thought might be, “surely he’s not THAT good that his time is worth that much?”, but then there will be that nagging feeling of, “What am I missing? Why is his time so valuable?”

If I present myself as if I believe my time is worth $50 an hour, unless my work is really terrible, the value I place on it will rub off on my client and cause them to perceive that my valuation is correct.

Start now

My next post will be about ways to encourage the perception of higher value, but for now start believing in your own value and share that belief with your clients through how much you charge – and you will start convincing them to perceive your value to be higher than ever before.

About PeterP

I am a blogger, author, stay at home dad, speaker, web hosting trainer and geek (I was so excited to get an iPad that I actually made up a song and dance about it). I am English by birth, but currently live in California with my wife and our three children. I ran a web hosting business for nine years and found that many, if not most of my clients had never learned how to use any of the functions associated with hosting so I wrote a book to try and teach just those skills. I must admit to having fallen in love with WordPress (possibly a little TOO much) and I honestly find it hard to understand why anyone would use anything different to build a site! WordPress is wonderful! My passion is to help others achieve their goals with their websites/blogs. I believe that, with a little help, anyone can have an awesome site.

3 thoughts on “Understanding Perceived Value”

  1. mum says:

    It’s difficult to tell from this photo, but your stand looks well displayed and you have brilliant photos to sell. Pricing is strange. On one hand we’ve seen 2 food vendors selling hot food at a fair. Neither names we Knew but the bigger more expensive one had massive queues whereas the smaller cheaper one had hardly any but over here at craft fairs generally people will generally pay no more than £10 for an unframed 5 x 7 print unless it’s a fair at a stately home or something like that. Artists who use photography as an art medium seem to charge upward of £300. Your venue seems to have been in the middle of those two with high class crafts but in a fairly ordinary environment. Were other people charging your kind of prices? I think that is an indication of how people will spend regardless of the quality of your wares. It’s a fantastic thing you’re doing and anyone should be proud to have your pictures on their wall

  2. PeterP says:

    The type of customer at the fair does affect the price you can get, but there’s also the perception that if it’s at a stately home it ‘must’ be more valuable!

    My prices were in line with everyone elses, thankfully! You’ll see a better picture of the booth tomorrow.

  3. mum says:

    I think at stately homes they also have to pay a massive stall fee so have to try to get that back! You were obviously priced right so that’s encouraging.

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