Our Changing Buying Habits

Buyer’s guides have been around probably as long as trade magazines. These compendiums have been a staple of publishing, and you’ve probably seen many come across your desk through the years. Ours is a relative newcomer in that we started it just last year.

In my job, I talk to a variety of people about all kinds of things relating to metalworking manufacturing and precision parts making. My contacts include both sellers of products and services germane to machine shops and users of those products and services. Even after 30 years in metalworking, I still enjoy the conversations.

The one constant I’ve seen in my career is change. I know that’s a cliché, but it’s no less true. This special Buyer’s Guide issue speaks to one of those changes—how business buying decisions are made in 2007.

Buyer’s guides have been around probably as long as trade magazines. These compendiums have been a staple of publishing, and you’ve probably seen many come across your desk through the years.

Ours is a relative newcomer in that we started it just last year. So, what do we bring to the table that would make you look at this Buyer’s Guide compared to others? The answer is integrated media. What you’re reading is the print version of an information tandem that more accurately reflects how buying decisions are made using tools that were not available previously. The other part of this integrated system is the Web component consisting of www.productionmachining.com and the vast Internet it is connected to.

Each of these components, print and Web, has strengths and weaknesses. The magazine’s strength is its ability to present material that a reader might not be specifically looking for—serendipity. Its weakness is space—it cannot present all of the information about a topic.

Conversely, the Web has no space constraint. Pick a topic and in seconds there are hundreds/millions of pages available. The problem is, you have to pick the topic. Therefore, there is less opportunity for serendipity on the Web.

Together, however, print and Web make a formidable tool for raising a buyer’s level of knowledge about a possible purchase. Grouped into numerous categories, the Guide identifies suppliers that provide the product or service you’re interested in. Once you find a supplier, the Web stands ready to provide the detailed information about the supplier and its products. Most important, this integrated process allows you to research as much as you want without identifying yourself. No salesman will call until you’re ready.

Vendors increasingly tell me about prospects who seek them out after seeing an item in the magazine and then delving deeper into their research using the Web. These prospects are significantly more informed about what they need and what’s available than ever before. More than one salesperson has told me they have had to elevate their game because customers today are coming to them with as much or more knowledge than the salesperson.

On page 8, Chris Felix gives you a detailed road map on how to take best advantage of this Buyer’s Guide and its integrated media component. Like the tools you use in the manufacture of precision machine parts, this issue is a tool you can use to more efficiently research your buying decisions.

We’ve also included a guest column from Adam Wiltsie at Vanamatic. He makes the request to tooling vendors to use the power of the Internet to help him design and engineer 3D models for machine setup to expedite job change-over for the shop’s multi-spindle machines. He’s asking tooling vendors to make CAD files of their tools available for incorporation in his modeling system rather than drawing them from scratch. He also makes a compelling case as to why this is in the tooling vendor’s best interest.

We invite you to review this issue cover to cover and keep it handy throughout the year. Pass it around the shop. The PM 2007 Buyer’s Guide is a front door to the many suppliers of the diverse products and services necessary to help shops compete.