Change is never easy. According to a Gartner study, 50% of all change initiatives fail and only 34% succeed. When the time comes to introduce new prices at your association, transparency is key. Creating a clear communication plan to detail the shift in offerings and address potential member concerns is a necessary strategy in navigating change.
Continue reading to learn how to develop a communication plan and effectively announce pricing changes at your association.
How to brainstorm and build a communication plan
Before you start planning your communication strategy, it’s wise to recognize the impact of the changes soon to occur. Because association members will bear the brunt of pricing changes, they will need time to adapt to the increase. While you will understand the reasons behind the pricing changes, members will likely require more convincing.
You’ll need to convey your vision behind the organizational change and consider how it can improve the membership experience. Here are four ways to do just that:
1. Meet with your board or leadership staff. Begin by sharing your vision of change with your organization’s leadership team. Your team will help you consider how your association will operate after the pricing changes are made. Together you can discuss the consequences for the member experience and plan a strategy to balance the change with more membership benefits. Crafting a communication plan where your motivation for change is clear and necessary for success will help all team members work toward the common purpose.
2. Add more value to the member experience. In your communication plan, you’ll want to highlight the value added to membership benefits and association services. During times of transition, pairing challenging financial news with details about how an organization is working to focus on member needs will do much to bolster morale.
A Community Brands Association Trends study found 70% of association professionals believe developing and/or offering new benefits and services is important for their organization. Half of the association members surveyed identified training opportunities as one of the most valuable membership benefits. When reorganizing your pricing structure, consider adding more training opportunities, certifications, professional development classes, and webinars to maximize the member experience.
TECH TIP: Add value to the member experience by synchronizing learning management software (LMS) credit tracking in Nimble AMS. When members complete certification courses, Nimble AMS will compile the data in user-friendly reports. Extend Nimble AMS tracking functionality by easily importing previously completed member credits.
3. Form a member focus group. If you seek further insight before launching your communication plan, consider asking members to join a focus group. Hosting a focus group can provide qualitative data about your pricing changes and detailed answers from group participants. Ensure your volunteer group is diverse and inclusive to provide a wide range of viewpoints and opinions when gaining feedback on messaging.
Once you recruit your focus group, select a moderator who can facilitate the discussion. In advance of the group meeting, write focus group questions, ensuring they’re open-ended, unbiased, and flexible. Be sure to avoid leading questions as you’re trying to get members’ honest feelings. After the focus group meets, thank them for their participation and send them an anonymous survey so they can share their feedback. Now you can sort through the data.
4. Plan a communication timeline. Based on the results from the member focus group, make needed updates to the communication plan and alert your leadership team. Determine how you want to share the news of pricing changes with association staff and ensure all details are disclosed synchronously, through an internal email or all-hands meeting.
You’ll also want to give ample notice of the price change to your members. Once all staff members know about the change, you can begin steps to implement your communication plan.
Which channels are best to deliver a communication plan
Now that you’ve fleshed out your communication plan, you can start to announce the pricing changes at your association. But what are the best ways to communicate change? Here are four easy ways to get the message out:
1. Automate emails. Announce the news to your entire member base through personalized email campaigns. Start with an introductory email detailing the pricing changes and encourage members to reach out to staff with questions. Based on your communication timeline, follow up with variations of the same information at different increments, perhaps monthly and then weekly as you approach the price transition. Schedule the emails with your association management software (AMS) to streamline the process.
2. Notify long-time members. If you have any long-term association members, those who are highly involved in volunteering, or work as subject matter experts (SMEs) for your learning program, consider calling them directly to alert them of the price changes. Because these members have given so much to your association, personalizing the communication strategy by thanking the members for their specific service could be particularly beneficial.
Additionally, if you have any members who aren’t tech-savvy, try calling them so all will know about the upcoming price changes. You don’t want any member to be blindsided by a price increase and not renew their membership.
3. Mobilize your online member community. Spread the word about the pricing changes on your association’s online community and encourage members to ask questions and air concerns. Select someone in leadership to represent the communication plan and address member questions. Be prepared for members to share frustrations and confusion about pricing changes. Remember to stick to your communication strategy and use messaging that’s empathetic, conveying the necessity for change and the added value for the membership experience.
4. Update your FAQ page. Ensure you detail the upcoming pricing changes on your association website for easy reference for both staff and members. In association emails, consider linking members to more detailed versions of the communication plan found on your FAQ page. Doing so will direct members to a single source for pricing changes messaging. It will also eliminate the need for members to contact staff with easy, “yes/no” questions, saving them time.
Do you still have questions about how and when to communicate pricing changes at your association? If so, catch the on-demand workshop, The Dues and Don’ts of Association Pricing Strategies.