From time to time, prices have to go up. You’ve experienced this on the consumer end, and now, you may be experiencing this on the producer (or provider) end.
The tricky part is relaying that news to your members. How do you do it without 1) upsetting them, and 2) pushing them away?
Here are a few tips:
1. Be transparent
NEVER hide — or gloss over — the fact that prices are increasing. Let your members know...and give them time to process. If it’s an increase in membership dues, don’t announce that to them two weeks before their membership expiration date. Give them a couple month’s notice, if possible. This will allow them to think things over (evaluate cost versus value) and budget accordingly, depending on the significance of the price increase.
2. Explain why
Your members probably know that you’re not raising prices just to raise prices. Chances are, you’re doing that in response to the increased cost of doing business. That said, explain that to your members. Don’t go into a crazy amount of detail (“Our conference center is raising their prices and we need to hire more staff, etc.”), and similarly, don’t complain. But do let your members know that you want to provide them with the most value and the best experience possible, and to do that, you need a little more funding.
While your members won’t be thrilled that prices are increasing, they’ll at least be pleased to know that you’re still focused on and committed to providing them with value.
3. Re-emphasize your organization’s value
Speaking of value, if prices are increasing, you MUST explain to members what they’re getting in return — why they should pay that increased amount. Remind them of their benefits, and particularly new benefits, if you’re adding any to compensate for the increase.
This applies to membership dues, conference registration, certifications and training, etc. Basically, whenever there’s a price increase, you must respond with “It’s worth it because….”
4. Offer flexibility
This depends a little bit on how significant of a price increase we’re talking about, but if it’s fairly significant (enough that you think members might walk away), it’s important that you offer a little flexibility. If you’re dealing with an increase in membership dues, do you have membership tiers in place so that members who can’t afford the new cost of membership have something a little bit more affordable to fall back on? If it’s an increase in conference registration, are you willing to offer a one-day pass or online options (virtual attendance for your most popular sessions)? Giving people alternatives rather than an ultimatum (“Pay this or you’re out”) is always perceived more positively.
If you’re really hesitant to raise prices but still need additional funding, rethinking your non-dues revenue strategy may be the way to go. For tips and tricks on that, check out our Ultimate Guide to Non-Dues Revenue!
Note: This post was originally published on 12/13/17, but updated on 6/17/20 for added value.