Don’t leave the value of your association’s member benefits open to question. Here’s why you should put dollar values on your benefits, plus a few examples of associations that are doing so.
If you’ve read even the most basic advice on negotiation tactics, you’re likely to know about “anchoring.” It’s a simple concept: The first offer made in a negotiation has a strong psychological effect on the rest of the process. Whatever that first offer may be, the negotiating parties can’t help but think of it as a reference point, or anchor, from which to compare all other offers made.
In recruiting new members, stating a dollar value for each benefit takes advantage of the anchoring effect.
Selling an association membership is not a traditional negotiation process, but the anchoring effect proves relevant in pricing situations just the same. In the June issue of Associations Now, I shared the perspectives of Ed Rigsbee, CSP, CAE, a speaker and association membership consultant, who urges associations to put dollar values next to all of their member benefits wherever they are listed or promoted.
“Trade associations and professional societies are having to show, ‘What’s in it for me to join and come and play in your sandbox,'” he says. “Some associations are willing to tell them, and others aren’t.”
In recruiting new members, stating a dollar value for each benefit takes advantage of the anchoring effect. The typical prospect looking at your benefits package will likely have only a vague feeling of the dollar value of each benefit, if the prospect has even considered them that way at all. By putting that dollar value out there, you create that reference point that can subtly influence the prospect’s decision to join.
Rigsbee also recommends calculating those dollar values by asking members about what your benefits are worth to them. That way you can add even more weight to the anchor by explaining that the numbers are based on what current members say.
A little Googling shows several associations are doing this, in varying styles:
- Northern California Human Resources Association
- Illinois Technology Association
- Oregon Veterinary Medical Association
- Virginia Society of Association Executives
- Northeast Pennsylvania Manufacturers and Employers Association
- Institute of Food Technologists
- National Association of Realtors
My favorites in this bunch are the last two. IFT’s is the most simple and easy to read:
Meanwhile, NAR’s is an interactive “calculator” that allows members to select the benefits they actually use and see a customized membership value (because most members join for a few specific benefits within your bundle, anyway):
Selling membership doesn’t always have to be about dollar values, and sometimes perhaps it shouldn’t. But there is certainly room for a variety of approaches (I tend to think dollar values are more useful in recruitment than in retention), and I doubt tagging dollar values onto your member benefits could hurt. At the very least, the importance of anchoring in price negotiations would suggest that naming a dollar value for your benefits is better than letting prospective members try to imagine what your benefits are worth on their own.
In your member-benefits listings, how do you convey their value to the member or prospective member? If you have a benefits listing with dollar values like the examples above, please share a link in the comments below.