Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Charging for MDAWG

I'd appreciate your thoughts on what you consider to be fair. I have been running the MDAWG for free but under the umbrella of Manchester Digital, the trade body for digital industry in Greater Manchester. I think the wroking group has proved its' value. It is intended as a tangible benefit to MD members hence, I intend to introduce a nominal charge of £5 per event for non Manchester Digital members. Considering how cheap membership of MD is and the additional benefits you will get over this year, I think that is extraordinarily cheap. I would certainly appreciate your feedback as to whether you agree. Please comment this thread woth your thoughts


Blogger Manchester_Blog said...

Definately not convinced about the merits of charging for these events. For example at the the next session it seems to me that Sitemorse at the next event stand to potentially gain sales from their presentation - so shouldn't they foot the bill for running the event?

I would suggest that perhaps the charge should be selective. If the session is genuine knowledge sharing, without an obvious sales link then a charge is appropriate but anything that might lead to sales for the presenter should not be charged for. Or the group presentiting should pay.


2:41 pm  
Blogger Simon Wharton said...

I don't think the potential sales argument stands up as a reason against charging. These things are accepted as part of the group so we can get people down and freely share their knowledge without charge. Otherwise, if we start getting precious, we wont see some of the big boys coming out to play and the smaller players really gaining the benefit of their knowledge. In the case of Sitemorse, they are the cutting edge of what they do, and the marketing of what they do. They know very well that there are people who are vehemently against their approach who are looking to come to the event for an argument. realistically, they could spend the time better using their normal sales techiniques to generate business much more effectively than speaking at our group.
As to charging for people to come along to present, definitely not. At the moment there are only a very few of us putting time into these events as well as running our own events. We simply dont have the time to start selling speaker slots.
So realistically, we will be charging for non MD members otherwise what's the point in MD putting this together? MD has to exist to provide the service and we need funds to make this happen. The people, like me, give their time for free but we do need to make payments for other bits and pieces.
So a fiver for a 2 hour expert session for non members seems pretty reasonable.

3:51 pm  
Blogger Manchester_Blog said...

Hi Simon

You say my arugment doesn't stand up to to reason but I disagree and don't see the evidence to support your arugment.

I have no problem with the general premise of charging for meetings, which is true knowledge sharing. But whichever way you look at Sitemorse stand to gain potential sales. Even if they take on their dissenters they are still accessing the market and being open to arugment shows they have confidence (which is of course a good thing, which is always good for sales in an agressive market. But to pay for the privledge that does not stand up to reason, which I believe I have jsut demonstrated.

Your second point is more interesting. Why have the accessibility group if members pay to belong to Manchester Digital and non-members attend for free?

Well perhaps given that accessibility is the law in the UK and the Digital Industry has got to be the worst prepared for it (given the law is over 10 years old now) then maybe there is a need for platform that wants to reach out to the widest audience. So that the largest knowledge base can be reached? The best way of doing that is to keep it free.

However, I accept the point that members of MD may not see it that way.



8:46 am  
Blogger Simon Wharton said...


If I read you correctly, I think you may have got the membership thing the wrong way round. The AWG is run by Manchester Digital. It's primary motive is to be of benefit to its members, in this case by addressing a legal requirement and diseminating the skills to deliver to that requirement. Hence it should be free to members of Manchester Digital. If you are not a member of Manchester Digital then it seems only reasonable that a nominal fee is paid for access to the resources of that organisation. If you don't want to pay that fee, become a member of MD. If an organisation does not have benefits, why join? We have to be clear that this is a memebre benefit of MD, not a purely altruistic seperate organisation.

As to the sales argument, everyone has something to sell. I'm quite open about that. everyone who comes along can share as much of their knowledge as they are comfortable with, after that, perhaps they can strike up a business arrangement to provide some work to those who need the knowledge. So far we have the National Library for the Blind present who provide services for a fee; we have had fourquarters present who shared a lot of technical knowledge but they also provide services for a fee. It's no diferent for Sitemorse and they do things that we need to get to grips with as well. Like it or not, they've get great penetration and automated testing is something that we're likely to have to deal with. They certainly wont be the last overtly commercial organisation I invite to speak.

6:57 pm  

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