Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Guest Post: The Art of Slickdealing part 1

Part 1: Quality Research
                When you’re looking to buy something, it’s incredibly important to know exactly what you’re buying. Say you’re looking to buy a new TV for your living room; you don’t just rush over to Best Buy and ask the employee for advice. While many of the “Blue Shirts” are nice and knowledgeable people, they unfortunately have a vested interest in what they are selling and probably have not personally experienced every TV they have for sale.  This is why the Internet is such a valuable resource, assuming you know where to look.  There are tons of review sites and tech forums where people discuss the advantages and disadvantages of specific products that are invaluable to the buying process.  In this article, I’m going to show you how I take advantage of them! For those who may think this article sounds too general, I could probably write an entire article on how to buy a TV based on a list of desired features, but for this article, it’s probably best to keep it simple.

                Before you start researching specific products, you need to narrow down the list of products you are interested in buying… otherwise you’d be researching for days!  For this article we will use the example of shopping for a new TV. The first thing you should do is to visit an e-commerce site that carries all of the major brands, for example, Best Buy. Set a reasonably wide budget range that you want to spend and pick out the TV models that best match the features you’re looking for.  I say wide range because you might be able to get a TV that is seemingly out of your budget, but is on sale. We will discuss this more in part 3!  Once you have found a couple products that fit your needs, it’s time to find out what people think about them.  

                There are 2 types of product reviews: Personal and Professional.  Generally, I like to look at professional reviews first since they usually explain the features in more detail, but the order is not necessary.
·         Professional - If the product you are looking for is reasonably complex (not much value in reviewing a stapler) you might get lucky and find some professional reviews of the product on the web.  I start by Googling “(insert model #) Product Reviews”.  Look at the first five or so results and be sure to take note of the site name so you can see if it is more likely to be an accredited reviewer; somebody at TomsCoolBlog.com might not be the best TV reviewer. Here you’re likely to find a review that discusses whether or not features of each model work as advertised, so you can get a clearer idea of whether or not this TV is what you’re looking for.
o   Website Examples: TomsHardware, CNET

·         Personal - This kind of reviews found on most major websites, is typically written by the everyday consumer who has purchased or experienced the product.  I treat personal reviews as “red flags.” for example, if a particular model has a glitch or common problem, you are VERY likely to see people complaining about it here.  However, personal reviews can also show you if a product really shines.  If you see people saying, “These are the best black levels I’ve ever seen on a TV, truly remarkable” consistently then the model is probably a good choice.  Keep in mind though that the everyday consumer is not an expert, so take their opinions of quality with a grain of salt.
o   Website Examples:  Amazon, NewEgg, ConsumerReports, CNET (User Reviews)
Wrap Up:
                Research on product quality can save you a ton of headaches.  I know it’s tempting to buy a major appliance that you need when you see it on sale but you never know how good it could be.  Just because it’s made by a brand name doesn’t mean that it will always performs well; brand name manufacturers make lemons, too. When you’ve done your research and determined what products you want to buy, it’s time for Merchant Research, which will be the feature of part 2 of this article series.

Author Erik Johnson is the promotional manager for SuperheroDen.com and TVMovieDepot.com. Look for part 2 of his series on Sept. 9th. Don't forget to read his personal story about the Art of Slickdealing here


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