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Base Membership On Value, Not Cost

Membership is about the value, what the experience of belonging, offers. To recruit members, associations need to focus on the value when pricing and marketing their membership.

Membership is about the value, what the experience of belonging, offers. To recruit members, associations need to focus on the value when pricing and marketing their membership.

MEMBERSHIP PRICING

This is not business as usual. Even if your association has been using cost-plus pricing for years, as interest in joining associations declines, pricing structures need to change. Pricing needs to be based on a willingness to pay. 

Pricing is important; it’s also difficult. Senior vice president at Marketing General Inc., Tony Rossell, says that “proper pricing has a huge influence on the viability and success of any product or service.” That includes your association membership pricing, and you have complete control over it.

What you are selling is an experience. And that’s what you should focus on when planning your pricing–what that experience is worth.

Members join for all different reasons; not all of them value networking or conferences. You need to know why your members are there and what your association offers. Every member doesn’t appreciate everything your association can offer. You may offer 10 valuable services, but each member might only value two of them. In that case, it doesn’t matter what it costs to provide 10 services, it matters how much your members are willing to pay for two of them.

MEMBERSHIP MARKETING

Your future members, the Millennials, value experience over price. It’s obvious in the way they shop retail, and it’s the same when they shop for professional associations. You might be the cheapest organization on the block, but if you can’t offer them a rewarding experience, they won’t be buying. And they’re not the only ones.

Let’s face it, if low prices trumped experience, Disney World would be out of business. But, Disney is selling a dream, the opportunity for dreams to come true. You can’t put a price on that. Customers pay, a lot. Cheap beer brands like Miller also do very well focusing on the experience of the product over the price, even though the price is low. Customers are buying into the value products bring them, expensive or cheap; it’s about the experience.

Your membership dues need to reflect value. However, if you aren’t offering much, cheap dues won’t drive membership. You’re better off increasing value and increasing prices. It’s about personal identity. People identify themselves by the way they spend their time, not on how much they spend on membership.

If your association is focusing on the value, the experience of being a member, not what it costs you, your prospective members will be thinking about the same thing. You want your prospects thinking of the value; it’s the only reason they’ll be willing to cover the cost.

Take the first step towards your future.

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