I’m really proud of the new series of Buyer’s Guides that we’ve just launched. Based on our research and our conversations with you, they answer a real need in the market for a plain-spoken, plain-english look at how to make smart buying decisions on the products and services that you need for your business. We decode the buzz words, deflate the hype, tell you what’s worth spending your money on and what’s needless glitter. We kick the tires and name names. We’ll try not to get too deep into feeds and speeds–but we’ll tell you where you can find that information if you want it.
The first three entries dig into the purchasing decision for desktop PCs, payroll services and search engine marketing.
The editor responsible for the Buyer’s Guides is Mac McCarthy. Mac is a veteran product editor who came out of the technology trade press. We’ve worked together off and on for the last fifteen years. He was the lead reviews editor at InfoWorld, commissioned the first few “Dummies” books in that ubiquitous series, and launched some of the first and best websites serving software developers and engineers. In addition to being smart and well-informed about the products, Mac is funny, down-to-earth and a great writer. The perfect guy for this assignment.
Famous Last Words–How Hard Could That Be?
At first it all seemed so simple. Mac’s assignment was to figure out what you need to know to make a smart buying decision and then to test that knowledge by actually going through the buying process. We decide to test our concept on Desktop PCs. After all, we”re 25 years into the PC revolution. They’re pretty much commodities. It shouldn’t be that tough to give folks some shrewd insights into the buying decision and then move on to the tougher categories. After about three days of dealing with the PC vendor and retailer websites–Mac was in my office banging his head on my office wall and telling me that might have been a terrible idea. He had run smack into the same house of mirrors approach to pricing and features that you’ve probably exprienced. He found that even when he new exactly what he wanted, getting the vendors to deliver the products was like playing “Whack A Mole” with their websites.
The Good News
At the end of the day, the experiment was a success. Although Mac’s hair got a little grayer and his growling got a little louder, we’ve come up with some great ideas for how you can get more out of your technology budget. In fact, we’ve already heard from a couple of readers how useful these guides are. They tie into several of the core skills that we believe every business needs to master. These skills include using the internet as a primary marketing tool, recruiting and keeping great people, having a technology investment strategy, and maximizing your cash flow. Let me know how these Buyer’s Guideswork for you and what products and services you’d like to see us cover.