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FreePint BlogInformation for businesses - A VIP Editorial

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As the owner of a research firm specialising in business intelligence, I quickly learned that more is not better. No, the way to impress clients wasn't with those 80-page reports of which I was so proud when I first started my business. It didn't take long to determine that my clients weren't interested in having me gather more information than they could through their usage of the latest and greatest all-purpose search engine. They wanted information that was better than what they were finding. I eventually also learned that "better" had many facets.

Better information meant that it came from trusted sources. More definitely does not translate into authoritative, and my clients – with critical business decisions at stake – weren't comfortable with the ease with which one could publish on the web.

It also meant that the information would be focused, yet comprehensive. These busy executives didn't have time to go to multiple sources or scan pages of search results for those relevant nuggets. They needed specialised tools for quickly targeting the right amount of information in their topic of interest – the business of running a business.

For my clients, I found that better information needed to be packaged to facilitate decision-making. They wanted quick profiles for insights into industries and competitors. Executive summaries, tables, charts and other formats made it easy to spot key issues and trends. My analysis of the findings and what they meant with regard to my clients' goals and objectives added the kind of value that kept them coming back for more.

Finally, better doesn't necessarily mean free, and free isn't always cost-effective. My clients were savvy enough to recognise that you get what you pay for, and the business information they craved was no different than any other product or service. When you use the best sources, collect only the relevant information, and deliver it in a useful format, it's worth paying for – as long as it doesn't break their budget.

After reading the reviews in this issue of VIP, I realised that it isn't very different for content providers. Content consumers crave better, rather than more – and the providers are giving us just that. Gone are the days when a content provider's value would lie solely in the number of sources they aggregate. One-stop-shopping is nice when you're trying to be comprehensive, but in an age of information overload, size really isn't a big selling point. Today's information environment requires tools that help us sort through the clutter and add meaning to what we find.

We see this with products like StrategyEye Digital Media and its specialised content, dashboard, deals analysis, and Report Writer. HighBeam Business attracts us with company and industry profiles, their List Builder, and a clean and intuitive interface. And they're doing it at a price that's affordable for most business professionals.

Today, there's no shortage of information or options for delivery. StrategyEye, HighBeam and other providers are discovering new ways to become invaluable to buyers. And, like me, they've learned that there's more than just "more".

Marcy Phelps

Marcy Phelps is the owner of Phelps Research, a provider of business research, analysis, and training. Marcy is a contributing editor for FreePint's FUMSI and the author of Research on Main Street: Using the Web to Find Local Business and Market Information. A past-president of the Association of Independent Information Professionals and the current chair of SLA's Advertising and Marketing Division, Marcy earned her Master's degree in Library and Information Services from the University of Denver.

This editorial appears in VIP Magazine No. 97, December 2011. Purchase online >>

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