What to do when you feel like you’re being “undercut”

I was tagged in a post on Facebook recently where a makeup artist was talking about how she keeps losing out jobs to artists that are so much cheaper than her. I absolutely understand how it feels when you are undercut.  Price competition is real. The thing is, it seems so much more prevalent now because of social media as we can see so much about what other people are doing, but you know what? It’s not really anything new.

There have always been cheaper artists and more expensive artists. When I started out, I was one of those cheap makeup artists, as I’m sure a lot of you were as well.  I think I charged around $40 or $50 a face when I started out. Mind you, that was almost 20 years ago. But to give you some context, the most expensive makeup artist in the town where I was working was charging $120. So I was less than half the price of what she was charging. The important thing here, and what I knew was, that my clients weren’t her clients.

Now I was relatively busy. I didn’t have a very good portfolio and I didn’t have any network, but I was getting clients based on how cheap I was. And that makeup artist was also very busy. She worked in one of the top resorts in town and I know that she was pretty much booked out at double or more than double the price that I was charging. Now obviously my prices went up over time.

The very first wedding I ever did… July 2003

So why did I put my prices up? Firstly because I wanted to earn more money (haha) and secondly because I realized the clients I was working with were not really the clients I wanted to be working with. So over time my price went up to where now I charge more than what that other more expensive artist was charging.

So if you’re feeling like you’re being undercut, or you’re concerned about other artists charging less than you, there’s a couple of things to think about. Firstly, keep in mind if you are constantly losing out on jobs because you’re “too expensive”, it’s not actually that you’re too expensive, it’s simply that those clients can’t afford you.

The important thing here is to ask yourself why you’re attracting those sort of clients in the first place. Now of course every client wants to have the best, but not everybody has the budget to pay for it.

So have a look at your marketing, have a look at your messaging and ask yourself is that attracting the sort of clients that you want to be working with? Are you using the right words? If you want to charge top dollar, are you using words like “luxury”, “premium” or are you telling your clients they can use AfterPay to pay for their appointment.

You know, those sort of words in your messaging will attract two different sorts of clients. So your marketing message is super important. You need to know who it is that you are targeting. I talk a lot about identifying your ideal client, knowing who that you’re marketing to, and once you’ve got that kind of dialled in, once you know who you’re marketing to and you’re saying the right things to those people, those bargain hunters are going to see you and keep on walking.

Now, one of the best analogies that I can use to describe this is with cars.  So some people will drive a BMW and other people will drive a Hyundai Getz (or a Kia Rio! No shade on any of those cars, I drive a 13yo Rio). Now, obviously I don’t know exactly what the prices are. Let’s say a Hyundai or Rio costs about $15,000 and a BMW (at the starting price range costs $30,000 – $50,000.   BMW does not lose one minute of sleep, does not even worry about how much Hyandai is selling a Getz for because they know that there are two completely different markets.

Or to put it another way, think about red lipsticks. I’ve used this analogy before as well. Tom Ford sells a lipstick for $50 – $60 dollars, whereas BYS sells a red lipstick for $3.99.   Does Tom Ford worry about how much BYS is charging? No, because they understand that they are selling to two completely different markets.

So that’s the key here. It’s knowing who you are marketing to and making sure that your marketing message is appealing to that particular client. So obviously Tom Ford or BMW, they use those words premium or luxury. Their packaging is luxury. The advertising material is luxury. Just go on the websites and have a look at BMW’s website and Hyundai’s website or Tom Ford’s and the BYS website.  You will see completely different messages; completely different marketing.

And I think that’s really the key thing here. If we keep focusing on the fact that Mary Smith Makeup Artist down the street is only charging $50 a face, but Mary Smith’s clients are not your clients. Now, if you want to charge $50 a face and you want those sort of budget clients, then that’s fine. Go for it. There’s room in the pond for all of us. But if you don’t want those sort of clients, my point is to look at what it is you’re actually saying and why are attracting them in the first place.

So do you need to work on your messaging? Do you need to work on the images that you have so that you can be attracting a BMW or a Tom Ford kind of client? If you want to be charging a BMW or a Tom Ford kind of price, there’s always going to be the different levels of pricing that people are paying.

I don’t concern myself with people that are charging $50 for makeup because I know they’re not my clients. I actually don’t want those clients. And even to the point of where when someone enquires with me if the first thing they ask is “how much?” I know that I’m probably going to not going to get the booking because they are shopping based on price only.

I want people who are shopping based on my experience and the quality of service that they’re going to get so they’re the things that I focus on in my marketing message.

If we want to be Tom Ford’s, we’ve got to think like Tom Fords and we’ve got to ignore the BYS lipsticks of the world!!!


If you want to see my “ranty” Facebook Live I did in response to being tagged in that post, you can check it out HERE


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