Using the Value Ramp To Build An Educational Portfolio

Written by Celisa Steele & Jeff Cobb on January 22, 2018

In today’s economy, traditional modes of education are losing steam. After taking a specialized college degree, professionals may work for fifty years (or more, if life expectancy continues to increase), and in that time their profession or industry can be turned on its head by changes in technology, regulations, and working environments.

Going back to school is not an option for everyone who wants to hold down a job while they learn, and college degrees have a short lifespan. Here’s where associations come in: they can provide the learning opportunities that help professionals keep up to speed and be ready for changes or promotions in their workplace when they happen.

At Tagoras, we provide help in building lifelong learning strategies for organizations in the continuing education and professional development business (in fact, we will be hosting an online conference throughout the month of February designed to help attendees find new and better ways to engage learners and create lasting impact through the effective use of technology). Associations come to us when they want to improve the range of educational products they offer to members. Recent years have seen a rise in new formats like micro-learning and micro-credentials, and associations envisioning ways to incorporate new technologies into their educational programming.

Everything points to value. With the internet and social media making information sharing easier every day, associations must ensure their content is relevant and valuable to members. We consistently see member surveys about what people value in their organizations show that education takes the top spot. In fact, some organizations are rearranging their membership proposition to put educational programming at the center of their mission, so that when people pay member dues they get access to all the learning opportunities on offer.

To work out if you are providing the best range of learning tools to your members, we developed The Value Ramp. This model allows an association to plot out programming on a graph and better see the relationship between price and value.

value ramp 1
value ramp 2

Try drawing out a graph like this for your association. It’s likely that the middle of your graph looks weighed down with traditional offerings like seminars and conferences. What can you use to create momentum at the bottom of the ramp to bring members up to this level that is still valuable compared to what people can find elsewhere online? And what about after these middle-range products – do you have high value content to offer people continuing on their learning journey?

Tell a value story along the ramp. Your Value Ramp should tell a logical, rational story about increasing value and price. In internal discussions about your products and services, you should be able to clearly articulate the differences in value from one product to the next and provide a rationale for increasing price. Whether implicitly or explicitly, it should be easy for your prospective customers to recognize this value continuum.

The world has changed dramatically and will continue to do so. Numerous different types of learning are out there to help fully empower and enable learners. Take these ideas and run with them and discuss what’s of value to your members. Take action towards the future of learning!

Inspired by these insights? Celisa and Jeff recently spoke at SURGE 2017, our virtual conference, on the Future of Learning for associations. The speakers’ ideas, and the contributions of the participants in the online forum, have been compiled into an e-book which you can download here.

Download Future of Learning eBook