Growing, balancing and pricing your association portfolio can be a challenging task for associations to manage. McKinley Advisors recently partnered with the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) to explore pricing strategies and identify ways to ensure the association’s pricing — for both nonmembers and members — was equitable based on the value of its services and offerings. McKinley’s Liz Williamson interviewed Christin Berry, ASAE’s senior director of business analytics, to discuss how together we optimized a pricing strategy that made the most sense for their members and the association.
Liz Williamson, McKinley Advisors (LW): I would like to get started by hearing a little more about the initial impetus for examining ASAE’s pricing strategy.
Christin Berry, ASAE (CB): After conducting a product portfolio analysis, it brought to light our various and often inconsistent pricing structures. We acknowledged that we needed more rigor in determining pricing, and we also wanted to consider how we were priced within the market. One of our goals was to walk away with a data-informed pricing strategy that considered market perspectives and competition and could be applied and implemented effectively across our portfolio.
LW: What was the guiding principle for you in how you approached this project?
CB: Data = Understanding. Throughout the project, we made sure our decisions were influenced by data.
LW: Was there a big “ah-ha” moment for you in the course of the project that shifted the direction in a positive way?
CB: There were two major outcomes during the research: the development of the “pricing tool” and the breakeven analysis. Introducing the pricing tool to staff was a big breakthrough. It was challenging to imagine how we would consider all the desired components within our pricing strategy. The interactive pricing tool McKinley created for us helped bring all the recommendations to life. It allowed us to apply them to our product portfolio in a way that was easy for staff to understand. The breakeven analysis delivered through the project also helped predict the financial impact of certain pricing decisions and allowed us to understand how all the puzzle pieces could come together into a thoughtful strategy.
LW: How have you started to tackle implementing the new pricing strategy?
CB: We now have standardized our member and nonmember price differentials. We have categorized all our programs, products and services into the suggested pricing quadrants. And, lastly, we are in the process of creating guidelines and processes to use pricing quadrants as a foundational component of our strategy moving forward.
LW: How did having a consulting partner help ASAE get to a successful pricing strategy?
CB: Focus and objectivity were critical. McKinley brought that and more to the project. Having an external partner on this project made sense for ASAE to make sure the assessment was objective, and to give the project the attention it needed. The pricing models and templates provided were invaluable. McKinley’s expertise was key in developing our pricing strategy and provided us with the tools we needed to continue to build on the project’s initial success.
Creating and implementing the right pricing strategy for your association can benefit both your association and its members in the long term.