Marketing new education programs is always a fun challenge. In particular we are getting a lot of inquiries about how to market and price new educational programs – especially eLearning products. Before I explain some key philosophies on this, let me refer you to my friend and co-author Mickie Rops’ fantastic entry entitled, “Knowledgizing Associations” that speaks to four value-based services that all associations should focus on. They are simply the ideas of Connect, Context, Filter, and Feedback (see her entry for the details).
Focus educational programs and services around the four values Mickie describes. Work very hard to provide as many of these values to your members as possible. But in the short-term, focus highly on the context and filtering aspects of content. Perceived value is what drives participants to education programs. Identifying what that perceived value might be is absolutely critical to the marketing and pricing challenge. Many times it is saving a member time and money by filtering out irrelevant content and explaining how and why that content can be applied to someone’s professional or personal life. Time and money are the two most common “value” items. With this in mind, here is a philosophy on pricing…
Free is not good. Unless you have some sort of legitimate reason for not charging for a program (a grant funded program, for example) you need to charge something to participants. The more you charge the higher the perceived value of the program. When you offer something for free, the buyer’s mentality is that it is not as valuable, even if it truly is. We also see significant numbers of no-shows for “free” programs versus paid ones.
Bundling products and services creates higher value. If you offer an education product, be sure to think about other products you can bundle with it. For example, you offer a seminar on how to build a great tree house. Your organization also happens to have a research report on new trends in tree house building. Bundle the products together to add value. You could even simply send an email out to everyone who attended the ‘how to build a great tree house’ course that lists all of your other tree house resources, with links to each. This links back to the filtering aspect of value creation.