Our experience supports the belief that low take rates on seemingly attractive programs are almost always a matter of perceived value and not price. Price is not the same as cost. If price does not match perceived value, the offer is unattractive. If price is greater than cost, the program is an expense to the association.
We also observe that when folks don’t take an offer, it’s usually because of one or more of three conditions:
- The benefits of the offer do not match the priority needs of the audience. In which case you have a problem with program strategy.
- The benefits are aligned with priority needs, but the association is doing a poor job of communicating in a way that enables the audience to understand the value to them. In which case you have a problem with communications strategy.
- The value and need are aligned and the audience understands the benefits, but there are barriers to them taking advantage of the offer. In which case you have a problem with delivery or access strategy.
Many organizations make the mistake of solving the wrong problem. Improving communications and making more people more aware of unattractive benefits will not help; and may even amplify the problem. Changing program benefits when communication is the problem will be a mistake; and may even exacerbate member frustration. Altering program content or promotion when there are real obstacles to participation won’t make things better.
Diagnosis of the reason for an unsatisfactory participation rate is essential. If the finding is that the benefits are not well aligned with high priority needs of the audience, than further analysis is unnecessary.