Emily Bratcher is a contributing editor at Associations Now.
The American Medical Informatics Association and its partner, Scitent eLearning Solutions, offer some tips for pricing your on-demand e-learning products to achieve the right balance of member benefit and association nondues revenue.
The American Medical Informatics Association is constantly thinking about how it can improve its programs, products, and services to not only better serve members but also benefit the association as a whole.
In 2013, AMIA launched the Clinical Informatics Board Review Course program, a prep course for physicians wanting to take the Clinical Informatics Subspecialty Board Exam. The AMIA course can be taken in person, online, or in a blended format that combines elements of both the live and online courses.
“The course serves members and nonmembers,” says Jeffrey Williamson, vice president of education and academic affairs at AMIA. “Obviously, our goal is to demonstrate that AMIA should be the professional home for informaticians.”
Since then, the course has fulfilled two goals: Members are using and deriving value from the on-demand course, and AMIA is earning some steady nondues revenue.
"The key is to price the online learning so that it is a member benefit, yes, but it also is priced to reflect the value of the content," says Vicky Mossman, vice president of partner development at Scitent eLearning Solutions, which partnered with AMIA to implement the online platform. "Free online learning is a missed opportunity to generate nondues revenue."
So, how do you go about pricing an on-demand e-learning program? "This is challenging always," says Mossman. "And particularly when you're starting out with something new."
The key is to price the online learning so that it is a member benefit, yes, but it also is priced to reflect the value of the content.—Vicky Mossman, Scitent eLearning Solutions
Although there's no magic formula, these tips can help you price your e-learning programs right.
Complete a market analysis. Take a deep look at your market. Ask questions like: How big is your potential market for this product? What kinds of customer segments might be interested in it? Who are the competitors to your e-learning product, and how are those competitors pricing their own offerings?
Identify your costs. This is critical, since you want to make sure that you're not going to lose money by offering the e-learning opportunity. Make sure to factor in overhead costs associated with IP development, technology maintenance and support, online marketing and sales, as well as finance management and call center support. "Our goal is to create sustainability," Mossman says.
Understand your audience. It's also important to know the general financial circumstances of your members, so you can determine what they can afford to pay for e-learning options. Are they living on a preschool teacher's salary or a surgeon's? Similarly, if your industry is going through an economic slump, your members are less likely to be interested in paying a high fee for an optional e-learning course.
Collaborate. The association and the vendor should work together on pricing. Each brings an important perspective to the question: The association has the pulse on its members, and the e-learning vendor has a good gauge of the e-learning environment, so collaborating on price is essential for getting it right.
[Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with additional information.]