At Pricing for Associations, we have conducted numerous surveys for market research and market testing around value and pricing.
We’ve found that most surveys require three core components.
If you’re looking to DIY a survey on value and pricing in the next few months, this article is for you.
Always ask if you can follow up.
First, you should always have a question asking if you can follow up with the person responding.
This matters because your survey is typically the first step in market research. If you’ll be leading into focus groups next, you’d ideally like to invite those who responded to those focus groups.
After all, you already have baseline data on them, and you can ask more specific, personal questions in the focus groups to grow the data you’re collecting.
If you don’t ask if you can follow up, then you’re assuming that they will invest more of their precious time with you, and ultimately, you’re removing consent from your relationship.
When you ask to follow up, it can be as simple as asking, “May we follow up with you if we have further questions?” followed by a yes and no option. This allows you to quickly segment who said yes, resulting in a core list of people that you can continue market research with.
We also recommend that you always ask for the name, email, and phone number of each respondent. You will have a harder time getting people to leave their phone number – we are conditioned to our phone being personal while our e-mail can handle unwanted messages – so you can make the ask for phone number optional.
However, what we have found is that when you ask for the phone number and you begin by making personalized phone calls inviting people to focus groups after the survey, you have a much higher rate of people converting from the survey to confirming their participation in the focus group, rather than just doing an email blast, even if individualized.
Yes, the additional phone calls will take more work than sending a batch of emails with custom name fields, but this builds your relationship with your audience to get the best, quality answers from them.
After all, they’re the ones investing in your organization. We should care enough to build trust and relationships for the types of answers we are seeking around value and price.
Always ask persona questions.
Unless your survey and AMS tools sync so that you can see the personas of who replied, you must ask persona questions so that you can better segment the answers for trends and value ladders by persona.
Most associations do not have great data on the segments of their audience. They might be able to tell you the different personas based on anecdotal information that they observe through attending events and understanding who their audience is, but associations must get better at actually tracking this data within their AMS, so that they can more quickly send personalized communications and offerings.
Because most associations are lacking this, we typically include persona questions within the survey so that we can segment the answers.
There are many persona questions that you can ask. We actually have a survey bank with over 50 questions that we can include in the surveys we author.
Of course, we do not include all 50 questions, but it gives us a great springboard to share with our clients so that they can pick which questions matter most and customize them for their own survey.
Here are some examples of persona questions worth asking:
- If they are a member or not.
- If they are a lapsed member, why did they leave?
- If they are a current member, how many years have they been a member?
- Where do they live?
- What seniority is their position at their organization?
- Are they someone who has purchasing decision making authority at their organization?
- How many people at their organization are members?
- How frequently do they or the other members of their organization attend events or engage with other components of membership?
By asking these persona questions, you can begin to create segments within your responses to see how different segments receive the value you offer and how that might move the pricing needle for their segment’s willingness to pay.
It also allows for you to invite segments to focus groups so that you have proper representation across your answers.
Always ask about value and pricing. Well, not always pricing.
The third component that you need for your value and pricing survey is – drumroll please – questions specific to value and pricing.
In general, we recommend staying away from pricing questions in the first survey that you send.
If this is the first point in the journey of your conversation, would you want to be asked about price? Usually not. It comes off as greedy and unaligned with your mission.
By starting with value, you get an open door to how you can add more value in (and sunset what isn’t of value), then you can share new potential packaging and ask about pricing.
This isn’t to say you can’t ask at all in a first survey, but if we do, we tend to limit it to one question, and it is very general.
Also, if you ask about pricing up front, you’ll typically receive much lower answers about pricing than if you save them for later in the conversation because no value has changed.
We absolutely do recommend having questions about value to lead with. Examples include:
- Which components of a membership do they value most? – have them rank them or pick their top three favorite components of membership. This can also work for an event, the process of a certification, or for the components of a sponsorship.
- What could be taken away from the product and they wouldn’t care?
- What should be added to the product that would really make a difference for them and make this a more complete solution?
Asking open ended questions in the beginning around value really helps you to gather data that can then form the types of questions that you ask later in the process to home in on what specifically should be added or removed from a product, and then ask about their willingness to pay based on those changes.
There are other components that your unique survey might need depending on the goal of your survey and your overall strategy, but these three components should give a large head start on the next survey you decide to conduct.
Dr. Michael Tatonetti is a Certified Association Executive and Certified Pricing Professional on a mission to advance associations in their pricing models for financial sustainability. As a Strategic Consultant and Trainer, he works with associations to harmonize pricing and value across membership, education, sponsorship, events, and marketing. He is also an Association Executive with Professional Pricing Society, overseeing education, certification, and strategy for marketing, membership, and sponsorship. Dr. Michael is a proud Association Forum Forty Under 40 honoree for his dedication to the association field.