I would like your help. Our BriForum conference is coming up in a few weeks, and some people are upset about the fact that we’re offering DVD sets of the conference for sale.
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- Some people are upset that we’re making DVDs and selling them. Our current price is $189, and they feel insulted that we would provide all the content for an $895 three-day conference in a single DVD set for less than 1/4 of the price of the conference. They feel that undermines the value of the conference itself.
- Other people are upset that we’re selling DVDs for $189 because they think the price is too high. They think that since the DVDs only cost us a few dollars to make, we’re being greedy by selling them for $189.
I feel very conflicted here and I don’t know what the “right” answer is. Since much of the great things on our site are due to the community’s involvement, I thought I’d open this question up to you. What do you think we should do?
As you also know, everything that we do at our company is about openness and sharing, and we try to make as much information as possible to as many people as possible. This is why we write the articles, post free PDFs of our books, post videos, and generally make everything available for free. This also extends into BriForum. I figure that if we have the content on video anyway, why not share it with the world?
Since all of the BriForum sessions are technical and fairly interesting, we record every single session to video. The videos of all these sessions are made available for free to attendees via a private website. They are available later in the same day that they’re recorded. We will always offer videos of the recorded sessions to attendees for free—that is not the issue. The issue is whether we should sell DVDs to the public.
Obviously this is a chicken-and-the-egg problem, because if the DVDs are too cheap, then no one will come to the conference, which means we couldn’t have the conference and we couldn’t make DVDs.
So, I ask you, the community, what should we do?
- Should we make DVDs available to the public?
- If so, how much should they cost? $100? $200 $500? Same price as the conference?
- Alternately, should we only offer all the videos to attendees (as always), and then release them to non-attendees at a rate of one per week over the year or so following the conference? (i.e. should we not allow people to "buy" their way into the conference content?)
- Or is there something else that we should do altogether?
Thanks for your support and thoughts everyone! Please share you opinions in the comments area below. This is really important to me and I want to make sure that we do the right thing.
Update, Friday March 17, 7:15 am
I want to address one more thing regarding the cost of this event. Some people have suggested that this conference is far too expensive. In fact, BriForum is NOT a profit-generator for us. Our goal with BriForum is to break-even on the event, not to make money. We lost money on it last year, and we're hoping to break-even this year.
I think a lot of people don't realize just how much work goes into putting on a conference. (I know I sure didn't before we started.) We have one employee, Emily Monaco, who is our event director. She is a full time employee that works year-round just to plan BriForum. Plus I spend months and months preparing sessions, working with presenters, building the website, and talking about the event. Our other technical analyst (Katie Koepke) is working full-time from Feb 1 through April 10 building the VMware servers for BriForum, talking to presenters to get their environments set up, installing and configuring the back-end technology we need (and of course preparing her sessions).
I personally was blown away last year by the amount of work that's required to put on an event like this. Our project plan has literally hundreds of line-item tasks that need to be completed for BriForum.
All that being said, this year's BriForum actually costs LESS than last year ($900 for three days this year versus $700 for two days last year).
The bottom line though.. This event is TOTALLY worth our time. BriForum 2005 was so freaking awesome, and this year's event is going to be even better. I mean come on.. over 60 breakout sessions, 30 presenters, live servers at the event, hands-on labs, DVDs, Microsoft and Citrix technical keynotes.. We're all super excited and can't wait to see everyone there.