BriForum DVDs: What should we do?

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.

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.

  • 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?

More Information

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.

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I know I will never get the chance to actually attend a conference, so I would be good for me to view the presentations I would not normally see. As for cost, the price you have at the moment is about right.Think of it this way, In my situation, where my company won't pay for me to go to the conference, they would/might pay for the content.  I get most of the benefit without leaving the office - and I am still helping the forum. M
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My opinion is that not all people can attend, you guys are doing a tremendous job and the session information is very valuable. So, sell them and ask maybe same price as attending the actual conference. I know my company will allow me to buy the dvd's.
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Hey Brian,
I like the way you would trickle the presentations out over time. It seems the presenters are doing that anyway from their web sites.
To me attending BriForum is more than just the presentations; it's the networking, the people and the whole experience. If someone wants that then he or she will pay and take a few days from work to attend. If not, their loss.
This is a great event with or without DVD...

Rudy
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Hi Brian,
I think that you should be able to sell your DVD to the public since not everyone can attend Briforum and a DVD is the next best thing you can get to a live event. I agree that those attending should receive a copy of the DVD first as they are a main source of financial contribution to the conference.
As a consumer if my perception is that I can get a DVD that will provide me a similar experience without having to spend additional expenses such as airfare and hotel, then I would buy the DVD since it is just knowledge that I am after. So with that in mind, I would definitely sell the DVD for at least $500, but  to not offend the people that paid the full price I would sell it at a rate of one per month instead of one per week.
 
I believe that most people are attending  the conference for a gain in knowledge and experience. If you were to hoard that knowledge and not make it available to others that can't attend for whatever personal or financial reaons, I think defeats the purpose of what brianmadden.com does for all of us.
 
thanks!!
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OH - As for the cost of the DVD, it's at least worth what you are asking now. That's very reasonable.
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ORIGINAL: rudedog

Hey Brian,
I like the way you would trickle the presentations out over time. It seems the presenters are doing that anyway from their web sites.
To me attending BriForum is more than just the presentations; it's the networking, the people and the whole experience. If someone wants that then he or she will pay and take a few days from work to attend. If not, their loss.
This is a great event with or without DVD...

Rudy


Maybe so, but many of us CAN'T AFFORD BriForum -- much less even get corporate permission to attend.

How about a compromise -- trickle down the PPT files and such like what has been done so far, but sell the video/audio presentations on the DVD for the $189 price??

Presenters could be asked/requested to only allow brianmadden.com to be the official distributor of presentations files, and to not independently distribute video/audio content.

As a relative Citrix newbie who doesn't work for a rich corporation, the files provided by Brian in the past have been wonderfully helpful.

So please come up with a reasonable compromise.
Thank you, Tom

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Sure thing. I agree that the DVD's and presentations should be made available to those that cannot attend. And $189 is a reasonable price. All I'm saying is that I don't think people will quit attending because it's available for less on DVD. We agree.
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Charge lots of money for them...then send kegs of each Presenter's favorite beer to their house following the conference.  Ok, so maybe I'm biased...

Honestly though, I think it's a great service to make the DVDs available to the public if they can't get away from the office.  I can say that there's been many conferences I've skipped out on because I couldn't get the time away, etc.  However, I do think that it should come with some drawbacks.  To be honest, the quality in which the DVDs are being made and especially with some of the new technology that you were planning will almost make it almost as good as being there).  As far as what those penalties are?  I think two things:

1) Cost.  I think you're right on target with pricing, although I don't think it would hurt to move it a bit closer to the 50% mark.
2) Delay.  I think it may make sense to let the public wait a little bit longer than the people who actually attended the conference.  Now I'm not suggesting that it be staggered over the year, but maybe just insert a few weeks of delay between when they are finished and when they are available to the public.

My .02!

Shawn
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I think what you are doing is great!  I don't think there is any comparing the experience of attending with just watching the DVD's. 
 
You don't get to ask questions when you are sitting at your desk watching DVD's (but if you do and the voice in your head answers, go get some fresh air).
 
I think you could get away with 50% but since I will be buying them this year $200 sounds PERFECT!
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I agree, definately sell the DVDs and the price is about right.
Being in Australia, the conference is a bit hard to get to, so having an opportunity to get the content is great.
I feel your $189 is on the money, and people attending the conference should recognise that they are getting a lot more out of the conference than anyone watching a DVD, and the attendees should get a copy of this DVD when its released included in their conference price.
I also agree with the delay (ie ship the conference attendee's copy of the dvd on finalisation of the DVD) and don't allow ordering of the non-attendee copies for 2-4 weeks after that.
my 2c + relevant taxes :)
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The amounts set are perfect. The higher cost of conference is just good business sense. It gives you room to give certain customers a better deal. It help cover the cost of having a place to physically be at. The value of meeting other people in the IT field and given the change to talk about their experiences with the technologies is PRICELESS.
 
Let's also not forget fair market value. Setting the price is really about supply and demand. If the demand is high, the price should go up.
 
The price for the DVD is also perfect. When I requested to expense the DVD from my boss. He immediately said yes. This tells me the price is exactly where it should be.
 
 
 
 
 
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As a fellow Citrix Guy or SBC guy, Brian you are doing the right thing and the price is right!
 
I love 3rd party products but hate the price tag of most!
 
Both you and Doug Brown either give information away or sell it a a great price.
 
For all of you that say $189 is to much!
 
When my company wont send me to Citrix Ifourm and Summit, I pay out of my own pocket!
 
That is what you do when you what to stay ahead and tech is your life!
 
Both Doug and Brian have dedicated thier life to this so please support them!
 
Keep up the good work sbc guys.
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$189 seems fair.  The difference between that and $895 is the DVD purchasers inability to get involved and Q&A, and the whole social and professional networking side of things at the event among other things.

That doesn't mean that $189 is all the actual technical content of BriForum is worth though....

Cheers.
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I don't know why the conference has to be so expensive, but people who are able to come, have probably their company paying for it, so these are just some fun days for them, so why bothering about other people who's boss is not willing to pay, buy a DVD for less?
 
Most information on the DVD will be public information from the companies, so it should not cost that much.
 
In my opinion:
- People coming to the conference get the DVD for Free
- Other people can buy the DVD against costprise + postal cost + administrative cost, let's say $25,--
- All presentations should be available for download for free. at least the ppt's/pdf's - skip the video's, or make them low-res
 
 
 
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Sadly I doubt I'll ever be in a position to attend in person & my business is unlikely to sanction $189 either....
However BrianMadden.com is the first point of call for all SBC technology references & I'd be so glad to see some (if not all) DVD's released onto Brianmadden.com/LIVE over the course time.
 
"life can be lonely on a limb"
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>> I don't know why the conference has to be so expensive,

Have you seen the price of Iforum Edinburgh. I know which one I got the most from last year and it was in Washington...plus I got a suntan. That said my manager has said i cannot go to Briforum this year as i might as well buy the DVD(saving him the flight and hotel bills conference fee=$1800 in total)then all the people in our dept can share the knowledge. :(


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DVD cost Vs Conference Costs........people can not really compare the 2 as they are not the same.
For example people that attend the conference will get to build contacts, get specialist advise, ask questions and
have all the benefits that a Conference brings. DVD users, yes maybe paying 1/4 of the price but that’s really the only benefit they
will receive as they may get the information on DVD but cant do the above.
 
What your planning to do Brian is no different to football matches, Concerts, and famous events.........they are always more expensive to appear live than to watch the event on DVD a couple of weeks later...
 
Carry on as you are I say...........

 
 

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I updated the blog entry to provide some more information about the conference admission price. A lot of people don't know that BriForum is not a profit-generator for us. Our goal with it is to break even, not to make a profit.
 
As for the DVD cost, it's hard to calculate the value of the content. The DVD content exists because of the conference, and the conference is expensive. It's a lot like a book. Why do you pay $50 for an IT book that only cost $2 to print? You're paying for the author's time to have spent a year of his or her life writing it. The same is true for the DVDs. What your paying for is the intellectual effort that makes up the content itself.
 
Brian
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First up Brian, I think it's shows what kind of person you are in asking about what you should do with the DVD's. To me, that says enough. I applaude you.

Anyway, I think the pricing of the DVD's is ok as it is. There's two reasons for that:

1st:BriForum is so much more than just a compelation of Presentations. It's about networking, meeting new people, "feeling up" new technogies and of course just plain old fun. Truely enjoying yourself on a conference.
2nd:From what I've seen from the quality of the DVD's of 2005, it's by no means a replacement for being there.

Point being, no matter what you decide, there's always going to be someone that does not agree. As far as I'm concerned, you're doing WAY more than anyone could expect from you. The BrianMadden Company after all is what's supposed to put your bread on the table right?


Regards,
Michel Roth.
www.thincomputing.net
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True, but you can't talk to a DVD, ask questions, share opinions...  Well I suppose you can, but I doub't you'll get a response.
 
ORIGINAL: Guest

>> I don't know why the conference has to be so expensive,

Have you seen the price of Iforum Edinburgh. I know which one I got the most from last year and it was in Washington...plus I got a suntan. That said my manager has said i cannot go to Briforum this year as i might as well buy the DVD(saving him the flight and hotel bills conference fee=$1800 in total)then all the people in our dept can share the knowledge. :(

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I think the price Of $189 is about right.  My company won't pay for the conference, nor will they pay for the DVD.  If I want the DVD, it will come out of my own pocket.  For those thinking that it's not fair that they paid $900 for the conference, but the same info will be $189, consider this:  Much of the value of attending the conference is not in the content provided, but in the networking that goes on.  You can get just as much additional information by talking with other attendees.  Notice that I say "additional".  Think of it as getting two to three times the info for your $900 admission.

adam
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My company cant afford to fly me to DC..pay for the Hotel and let alone register me for the Conf.

I think the current scheme is far all the way round. If you want the chance to meet and talk to others in the feild that is incentive enough to go and pay. If your like me and cannont the dvd is 2 best thing.

As far as releasing them at a trickle..thats not a good idea. As with everything tech things are outdated.
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    By the way...where are the movies that where supposed to be posted 1 a week till the new conf started. It seems like those have not been consistently updated. Where missing quite a few. Can there be one link for all the movies that are available for download.
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As somone who bought the DVD last year, I feel that I got my money's worth.  It definately should not be cheaper because there is a lot of excellent information on the DVD.  I also imagine you have production costs, costs for the presenters, etc.  I think, however, that is unfair for peole to complain to you that you are charging too much.  You have put all the work into this, so you can charge whatever you want.  If they think you are charging to much, then they don't have to buy it.  You should not be guilted into funding their career advancements and education.
 
As for not charging enough, there may be some valid arguments here, although since I only bought the DVD, I could not ask questions of the presenters (which is why this year I'm attending the conference in person) so the DVD is not as good as being there.  I would suggest that you delay when non-conference attendeees can purchase the DVD, which I believe you did last year.  Make non-attendees wait 3 months or so to get the information.
 
Cole.
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Brian… Having attended BriFourm last year and your advanced technical training class I know first hand it is not all about the money.
 
Here is my opinion…
 
The folks who attend get the benefit of networking with like-mind folks, meet and greet (maybe hang out) with Citrix, TS, and VMware gurus for three days. This gives the folks who attend BriForum opportunities that people who only buy the DVD can’t receive.
 
Getting the DVD out ASAP is much better than waiting, it’s about the information more than what someone paid to attend.
 
Finally, for the folks who have no budget to attend or buy the DVD, release the content over the next 8-12 months leading to next years BriFourm.
 
This covers anyone who shares your passion to learn with or without the financial resources.
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Brian… Having attended BriFourn last year and your advanced technical training class I know first hand it is not all about the money.
 
Here is my opinion…
The folks who attend get the benefit of networking with like-mind folks, meet and greet (maybe hang out) with  Citrix, TS, and VMware gurus for three days. This gives the folks who attend BriForum opportunities that people who only buy the DVD can’t receive.
 
Getting the DVD out ASAP is much better than waiting, it’s about the information more than what someone paid to  attend.
 
Finally, for the folks who have no budget to attend or buy the DVD, release the content over the next 8-12 months leading to next years BriFourm.
 
This covers anyone who shares your passion to learn with or without the financial resources.
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ORIGINAL: Guest

I don't know why the conference has to be so expensive....

Most information on the DVD will be public information from the companies, so it should not cost that much.

 
What does that mean? Public information from the companies?  The presentations I am putting together are completely original and I havent seen any presentation or data like this except for whitepapers from vendors that kinda touch on this. As for my presentations the PPTs will be available later, a white paper on one of my topics will come from RapidApp. But the DVD recording of the presentation with like 20 minutes of Q/A... That will be a DVD only type thing, like being there for people who couldnt. I dont know about the other presenters but while there is text in a power point, the real info often comes from the speaker and discussion. I think that is worth something.
 
Ron O
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If there's gonna be a huge fuss about what's the right price to sell the DVD I'd pass up on it completely.
You're doing your best to even get the conference up to speed and imo you do not need this hassle.
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I am ( of course ) attending the conference, and I am totally convinced that watching a dvd after the conference is not by far the same as beeing there.
 
You will probably not be able to concentrate as good when watching dvd.
There is always better to hear the presenation "live"
 
For us attendees, the dvd will be the chance to listen to interesting presentations that we could not attend at the conference, as there will be 3 tracks ...
Not everyone who would like to be there have the chance to attend ...
 
Without beeing at BriForum you will not be able to mingle and talk to the best and the greatest in our business, making friends and having a good time.
 
So let the general public get the chance to buy a dvd. No problem.
 
Special K
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ORIGINAL: Brian Madden

I updated the blog entry to provide some more information about the conference admission price. A lot of people don't know that BriForum is not a profit-generator for us. Our goal with it is to break even, not to make a profit.

As for the DVD cost, it's hard to calculate the value of the content. The DVD content exists because of the conference, and the conference is expensive. It's a lot like a book. Why do you pay $50 for an IT book that only cost $2 to print? You're paying for the author's time to have spent a year of his or her life writing it. The same is true for the DVDs. What your paying for is the intellectual effort that makes up the content itself.

Brian

 
That's why I don't buy $50 books :) Unless they have something unique or quantifiably different to what I can find out from the Citrix/MS/Whatever PDF/PPT/DOC's they are a waste of money imho. So in this case if the DVD content is expanding on publicly available information, or enhancing that information where there is ambiguity or pitfalls, then for me it is worth it (i.e. there is some intellectual effort). If it’s a re-hash of what I could find out anyway through my favourite search engine then for me it is not worth it, unless someone could state that I will save my company at least that and the time I spent reading it (opportunity cost etc) in the future. Personally I think $189 is too much but then again I do realise that putting together quality presentations takes time.
 
Kind regards
Drew
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Hi, Brian. I was at your course in Vegas this January (which was amazing), and as a result I can't get the funding to go across the US three months later (airfare and hotel, etc.) for 'another' Citrix event when we're still a long way from implementing what I learned in the course. Therefore your DVDs for BriForum 2006 will be very valuable to me and my team.
 
I think the current price is very fair - there are obviously many additional benefits to attending a conference in person, none of which you can get by ordering the DVD, so increasing the price of the DVD to approach the conference price will only make fewer people order it, not necessarily increase conference attendance (my humble opinion).
 
Please try to make the DVD, if not the downloads, available as soon as possible (a few weeks? a month?) after the forum ends. I'd ask that you don't make trickling out downloads for free on the website the only option for obtaining this content after the conference. As you have stated in the past, the quality of the DVDs is better than that available for download, and those that are willing to pay for the DVDs up-front. Hi, Brian. I was at your course in Vegas this January (which was amazing), and as a result I can't get the funding to go across the US three months later (airfare and hotel, etc.) for 'another' Citrix event when we're still a long way from implementing what I learned in the course. Therefore your DVDs for BriForum 2006 will be very valuable to me and my team.
 
I think the current price is very fair - there are obviously many additional benefits to attending a conference in person, none of which you can get by ordering the DVD, so increasing the price of the DVD to approach the conference price will only make fewer people order it, not necessarily increase conference attendance (imho).
 
Please try to make the DVD, if not the downloads, available as soon as possible (a few weeks? a month?) after the forum ends. I'd ask that you don't make trickling out downloads for free on the website the only option for obtaining this content after the conference. As you have stated in the past, the quality of the DVDs is better than that available for download, and those that are willing to pay for the DVDs up-front could then choose what's most relevant to them without having to wait for the right topic to become available for download. I've already benefitted by the 2005 forum downloadable content, and have no hesitation in recommending the purchase of the 2006 DVD set to my company (and every other Citrix guy I see) or buying it myself if need be.
 
Thanks, and have a great conference!
 
Bryan Block
Vancouver, Canada
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Sorry about the duplicate text there - I'm using IE7 beta, and the text edit box is quite broken...
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Brian,
“You can please some of the people, some of the time, but you can't please all of the people, all of the time.”  Charge whatever you need to charge to cover your costs.  $189 is cheap.  I will be one of the fortunate ones that will be at the conference and have no issue with the DVD availability.
 
Briforum 2005 was great and I look forward to 2006!
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The attendee invested their time, money on event, travel, and hotel therefore they shouldn't pay for DVDs. Instead give the other people a chance to buy it in a reasonable price after few weeks. The price should be totally up you!! Cause you know how mush you invested on organizing the event and no one else knew.
 
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I'll keep this short.
Charge closer to the cost of attending the conference, but not the same.
Don't hold back the videos and such for so long of a period of time. Say a quarter or half year instead.
 
 
Later.
 
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Brian, I am torn here. Like most everyone else here I was almost at the point of taking out a personal loan to attend BriFroum this year. The conference fee is fine, but travel accomodations to DC killed my plan. I think you are being generous providing the DVD and I don't see any problem with the $189. I don't think we can compare actually attending to a DVD so I think the price is about right. If you were to add another layer of "live attendance" via the web then that could warrant full conference price. I would have no problem attending via the web for $895 and I would still miss the networking which is a big peice. Anyway I appreciate you making the DVD available and all of your hard work.
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