Original Author: JP Moery Has this scenario happened to your association? It’s the fourth quarter, and you didn't reach your association membership...
Recently, I’ve been hearing some discussions centered on membership discounting strategies. Overall, I think it’s something to think more than twice about. And, here’s why:
#1 We work hard at our organizations to build up the membership value proposition. So, when we discount it; it actually drives down the value of membership. In some cases, I’ve seen memberships being offered at 50%, or “Join for the first year for half,” and 2 for 1 deals. Discounting undermines the overall value of the organization and is a negative strategy.
#2 Membership isn’t inventory sitting on the shelf. Let’s not treat it that way.
#3 Typically, I see discounting happen when budgets are getting a little tight and folks aren’t hitting their goals. So, are you ready and able to have a strong sales and renewal process in place. When people renew – the price of their dues goes up 100%. Now you’ve got problems. If you want to go with a prorated approach, I’m actually in favor of having the member pay full the first year and prorate year 2. However, remember – the problem is not the price; the challenge is the perceived value. Bottom line: drive up the perceived value and keep your dues steady.
#4 Now, I understand cutting a deal. I’ve had to cut deals during the recruitment process. This is a situation I often confront. But, I don’t want to “deal” as an overall marketing ploy. I’ll do an individual deal – especially for some of the organizations we work for who have a $20,000 membership fee, for example. But, I would sign that recruit and let them know the deal is a special circumstance; not a regular occurrence. Be sure there is a full understanding that the dues will increase to the regular rate over time; perhaps, over a period of 3 years so your organization has a step up on year 1, 2, and 3.
Remember, joining your association has immense value. When things get cold out there, use a dues reduction as a last resort.