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Product Principles

Now Is the Time to Update Your Pricing Strategy

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At the start of the pandemic, many associations offered discounts to members on their products and services. But that is not a sustainable model moving forward. Instead, groups need to align value with pricing.

In recent years, many organizations offered discounts on products and services as members recovered from the effects of the pandemic. But it’s time to stop being risk-averse and take a proactive approach to pricing, according to Dede Gish-Panjada, MBA, chief operating officer and chief consultant at Bostrom.

That approach should involve assessing the current value proposition of individual products and services, and then determining pricing based on that assessment.

Michael Tatonetti, CPP, CAE, founder of Pricing for Associations, agrees that associations should consider the value they offer and adopt a strategic approach to pricing. However, not all products warrant price bumps, despite the discounting that’s happened over the past three years.

“Just like any business, your product has to be good in order for the market to pay for it,” said Tatonetti. “If you’re not delivering what [customers] need or if it’s outdated, no one’s going to buy it. We need to have the value conversation, with the pricing conversation in alignment.”

Identify Most Valued Offerings

As a first step, associations should determine which products and services members need then look at what the association currently offers. “If there’s a gap, your association should either add a program or enhance what you already have,” said Gish-Panjada.

Examine current offerings to determine the top-three and bottom-three sellers. “Look at your records of purchase history, and survey your members,” said Gish-Panjada. “Value is difficult to determine, but research can help.”

By conducting a revenue analysis or pulling numbers from your database and CRM, you can identify in-demand offerings—be it a conference, education, or publication. Many organizations find that programs related to retooling, reskilling, or upskilling are among the most popular as members consider job changes.

Whatever you learn, Gish-Panjada recommends sunsetting or revamping the bottom-three performers. For the top-three offerings, either enhance the product or bundle it in a package, so you can consider an appropriate price bump.

Bundle Select Products

Bundling some products and services and setting a new price based on the higher value is a strategic way to increase your association’s revenue.

Tatonetti shared this example: If your organization charges additional fees for digital education and training, consider bundling those offerings into the overall membership fee—and revamping membership pricing with the “included bonus” of online education.

“It creates a psychology that you’re all-inclusive, and that the organization really cares about making sure you get what you need to make sure you do your job well,” he said.

Despite initial skepticism, Tatonetti said this approach can boost an association’s bottom line. For example, if membership is $200 and training is $1,000, some organizations are hesitant to raise memberships fees to $300. But the number of members who currently purchase trainings is likely very low compared to membership numbers.

“If your organization can raise membership fees for everyone by just a little, it can more than make up for the dedicated training loss,” Tatonetti said. “And you’re giving access to something that’s very valuable—education valued at $1,000—to more people.”

And this model comes with additional bonuses: Members will be burdened with fewer invoices, and you can offer trainings for nonmembers at an elevated fee.

Conduct a Pricing Analysis

Before setting a price, associations should conduct a pricing analysis. Examine the costs associated with producing the program or product, including staff time, subject-matter expertise, creation of the product, marketing, LMS costs, and product launch, said Gish-Panjada. And then consider what was learned from the value analysis to determine if increasing the price can account for great value.

Tatonetti also suggests conducting a member survey to aid in the pricing decision; he recommends the Van Westendorp survey-based research technique. This model asks respondents to evaluate four specific price points. Results create price curves and a range of acceptable product prices, which he said will help set a realistic price without “leaving money on the table.”

Once you’ve determined the pricing sweet spot, Gish-Panjada recommends piloting the new price. “You can launch the product with ‘introductory pricing,’ and go in at a higher point, rather than a lower one,” she said. Another strategy is to release an “introductory offer” to a member segment—for example, target early-career professionals if the product offers basic-level training—and “see what the data tell you” to ensure your pricing is accurate.


Christine Umbrell is a freelance writer based in Herndon, Virginia.

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