Expensive vs Valuable

Anyone who knows me knows I love a trip to the nail salon. I not only like the finished look, but I enjoy the experience. When I get my nails done (fingers and toes!), I want a spa experience. As a mom, a business owner, a non-profit executive, and a volunteer, I want a couple of hours to myself to relax and allow my introverted self some space to just be. The value of the experience goes beyond the services received.

Does the value of your association go beyond the services received?

After getting my nails done one day, I went across the street to pick up a pizza. The cashier complimented my nails. I thanked her, and recommended she visit my nail salon. She replied, “Oh no! I hear they are expensive!” I was taken aback by this, so I asked her why she felt that way. She explained that it was because she could go down the street and get a mani/pedi for half the price.

Might prospective members say something comparable about  your association? There may be less expensive alternatives, so why would someone choose membership with you, and not the others?

Thinking back, I learned of the existence of my salon when I complimented another woman’s nails. True to conventional wisdom, nothing beats a strong first-person, word of mouth recommendation. So, I gave it a try. At that time, I had been living in the area for five years. How did I not know about this little gem?

Are you successfully promoting the value of membership in your association? Start by looking at  your website. Visitors to my nail salon’s website only see high prices. What they are not seeing is the experience that keeps me coming back. Your website and all your collateral material should communicate the value of membership. Are you using member testimonials to help convey the experience? That’s a first-person, word of mouth recommendation and there is no substitute for that! Friendships, connections and good times may not be listed among benefits, but they are part of the experience your members value.

Just as your members are getting more than a list of benefits, I’m not just getting a mani/pedi, I’m getting an experience and that is what I’m paying for. I come out of that salon feeling like a brand-new woman, ready to conquer the world. This session at the nail salon isn’t expensive to me, it’s valuable! Yes, I pay more than I would elsewhere, but I get more. Their secret sauce is in the details. The technicians don’t rush through the service. It is an exceptionally clean facility. There are large, beautiful waterfalls contributing to the ambience. There is gentle music playing in the background and a strict rule for quietness. Clients receive a neck and shoulder massage with their manicure, and as a licensed cosmetologist (in an earlier life!), I can attest that they do not use inferior products on their clients. I’ve been a regular customer there for over five years now, and the service is exactly the same from one month to the next. I appreciate that. Oh, and the icing on the cake? A complimentary beverage, including wine! Why don’t they tell people this?

Think about it: is your association expensive or valuable? Do prospective members understand the value? Often, the benefit is nuanced or taken for granted. We need to evaluate what sets us apart from other associations. Take a step back and think about the benefits of membership. Then, craft a message of value that you communicate on your website, social media and all collateral material. As an association leader, it’s your job to spread the good word! Don’t keep the value of membership a secret that only the insiders know.


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