|Professional Services Directory|
Elements of Success
Recently I have secured several domain names that I think will make for some great directories for certain niche professional service providers. However building my first directory will require a decent chunk of cash for development and of course time to build the site out. That being said I am trying to find ways to minimize my risk on this and maximize the success the first time out.
The idea in a nutshell is that I have domain name for a specific niche professional services provider. I am going to create profiles that they can edit and describe their business, contact info, etc. I am even going to write some specialty bait piece white papers that you can download if you complete a request so if you find this provider you can fill out the lead form and get the white paper. The idea is to make this an advertising vehicle for these providers. Visitors to the site can do a search for providers by zip code and be presented with the providers profile page and be able to fill out the lead generation form to get the white paper, which will be forwarded to the provider.
The value add is that I am selling the listing by zip code and for the fee the provider gets exclusive listing for that zip code, nobody else to compete against them.
In return they pay a fee, which I was thinking would be around $299 per year for the listing. Here are my questions for the group...
1. Does the idea sound like it would even work?
2. What elements do you believe the site would need to be successful besides the obvious answer of customers and people looking for providers?
3. Does the exclusive listing sound like a good idea or bad?
4. What cost effective ways would you try to promote this once it is up and running to get providers to list with you?
5. Do you think the site would benefit by having a bunch of articles related to the content of the directory? I was thinking I would hire some writers and get them to crank out a bunch content to start the site off with.
It seems to be a catch22 for me. Businesses might want to pay the yearly fee to get an exclusive listing for their business, but they will only do that if your directory has authority status with large amounts of daily visitors.
But on the other hand will visitors only come in masses if your directory has something to offer, i.e. a complete listing of all the professional service providers in their area. If you list only one provider per ZIP code, there is hardly anything to chose from and your directory won't become an authority.
This is actually an old offline business model, you might get some ideas from "exclusive business networking." It was and may still be particularly big in real estate sectors, where an agent can "buy" referral rights for a given community. Participating realtors refer clients leaving *their* community to the destination community realtor. Assembled with it, realtors can have their own groups of business categories: homeowners need movers, plumbers, roofers, etc, all exclusive to that realtor in terms of referrals. So the referrals expand to other business groups as well.
The lead or referral is the "gold" or currency, if you will. I'm no expert on this but privy to a client who has this in place, cannot comment on it's success or failure.
|a complete listing of all the professional service providers in their area |
First you have to understand, it wouldn't be the "clients" using these sites. It would be the businesses. This is where they collaborate, build their network, exchange client leads. True, SOME clients would go there, but they'd likely go there only because their realtor or other rep told them to: "check out my list of contacts on this site. These are all people I would trust to give you the service you need."
In the context of the above scenario, I'm moving from L.A. to Washington D.C. I have no idea who to trust, I can just as easily pick up a phone book and play roulette with realtors as dig through an Internet listing. My current realtor is part of this network, and hooks me up with the D.C. realtor in the network. When I get there, he has all the contacts I need to find a home, get moved, where to go for this or that.
Why should we trust those within the network? Because for it all to work, each participating member is motivated to select associates they trust to fortify their reputation.
It's a pretty good concept, whether it works or not . . . can't say.
why not list ALL businesses in that particular zip code, but for a fee make one or two FEATURED. you could also charge a small fee to all the other businesses but have less information on their listings, with full information on the FEATURED listings
>>for a fee make one or two FEATURED
that model works for lots of other online listing-type sites, including kijiji, etsy... it sounds like a safe & scalable tactic to emulate
|Businesses might want to pay the yearly fee to get an exclusive listing for their business, but they will only do that if your directory has authority status with large amounts of daily visitors. |
I am also struggling with this concept. People paying for the space want to know that potential customers are going to the site and actually seeing their profiles. My thought was to use other types of content (articles) that are related to the profession in question, i.e. 21 ways to cut your taxes today (for a CPA directory) etc. Not sure if that will do the trick why I am building up the directory side of the operation or not.
|First you have to understand, it wouldn't be the "clients" using these sites. It would be the businesses. This is where they collaborate, build their network, exchange client leads. |
I wouldn't have thought that. I was thinking it would be used by people needing a CPA, attorney, etc. and go there to search. The benefit to the person paying for the listing is the exclusivity. However you bring to light an interesting thought with your example about Realtors.
|why not list ALL businesses in that particular zip code |
Because the domain names I purchased are really tied to the profession in question as opposed to all businesses. There are quite a few business directories on the web. I was thinking a more specialized directory with not only listings, but specialized content to that profession might be a better fit.