December 23, 2012

Create Purchasing Criteria and Decide

Full disclosure: I love the holiday season and most everything that goes along with it.

I have two young children and watching the excitement of the season sink in recalls magical memories when I was their age. With that said, the constant bombardment of product promotions is exhausting, bordering on nauseating!

It does, however, force me to think about what product and characteristics I truly value. I appreciate excellent messaging and positioning as much as anyone; it is critical to build brand awareness and generate excitement. But as a product manager, I know that those are just hollow promises if the product doesn’t deliver. You should absolutely read up on the features and benefits, but to make a truly informed decision you most go beyond what’s on paper.

To help with that, I have created my own list of purchasing criteria. These four criteria have both helped me make good purchasing decision and helped Lightspeed to develop excellent products and services. Our company strives to be best of breed in each of these areas.

Does it look like something I would be proud to show off to my peers?

I am far from a design freak or fashion expert, but like anyone I like things that are aesthetically pleasing and of a certain quality. I want things that are the appropriate size and weight. More than anything I want to be proud of my purchase and maybe even show it off a little. Sure features and functions are important, but how it looks and feels heightens that emotional connection.

Does it work HOW I need it to?

Sure, what it does plays a roll, but generally there is more than one product that can essentially do the same thing. Ask yourself what functions you need and want out of a product- simplicity is an undervalued benefit. Consider those features you really need and throw out the rest. After you peel back to those core benefits, is the product simple to use?

Will it last as long as I expect it to?

This can be tough to judge. I think the best way to answer it is to look at the reputation of the manufacturer-read reviews, comments, or ask your trusted peers for reference. Pay attention to the warranty, note the construction and materials of the product, and compare the price point. It’s true that price does not tell the whole story, but if something seems too good to be true it probably is. There is a distinct difference between cheap and value!

If something goes wrong, will everything be all right?

Who do I call when something goes wrong? I hope my product doesn’t break, but it might. Just like I can’t stand paying $30 to check my bag on an airplane, I can stand service plans and extended warranties. Just build those services into the cost of the product (are you listening airlines?) I just want to be able to talk to someone knowledgeable about my product, tell them what’s wrong and have them fix it or replace it.

Shaun Fagan

Shaun Fagan

Shaun Fagan's mission at Lightspeed is to continue to find new ways to create access to learning by studying the dynamics of the classroom. His goals include evolving our instructional audio systems to improve the learning environment for both students and teachers. Outside of the office, Shaun enjoys spending time with his family, running and training for marathons, and rooting for the Oregon State Beavers!

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Thanks for sharing!
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