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I've been harboring an idea for a local site for quite some time, but until now I had never isolated the local aspect of it as any different than other projects I've worked on.
After reading through some of this forum and bits and pieces in other sections of WW, I must say I'm quite excited about the future of local. I'm particularly interested because I think the local-by-locals model is far superior to any of the other local site varieties. Living in a big city, but one which is not on the cutting edge of... anything... I think I see opportunity due to the lack of current offerings.
I think corporations who try to simulate local with a city and state parameter or a glorious subdomain will always have a piece of the action, but I think they are in a separate market. They can't really be a local site, in my opinion. They'll always be carpetbaggers stunted by corporate bureaucracy and uniformity, which will keep them in the shallow end of the pool.
I've done some searching recently and I've only found a few local-by-locals in my geographic area. The two most successful are employment sites; one appears to be losing a little bit of money after advertising expenses, and the other appears to be losing a lot. The others are likewise rather bland, and aren't really utilizing anywhere near the potential they have as true local sites. They're trying to compete with Monster or Hotjobs rather than leveraging the potential they have as local-by-locals. They are essentially clones of these large sites, with the only plusses being that they have domain names with the city in them and they put all their advertising budget into local media. In the end, they don't do anything that the existing nationals can't do better.
So after all that, I'm wondering the following:
1) Are any of you in medium-sized to large-sized cities that are wired, but which don't have much in the way of local sites?
2) If so, are you finding local businesses are receptive to your offerings? Do they see real potential in what you are working on, or is it just another place to advertise?
3) Do they even understand what you're doing? Are they asking about traffic? Are you just an online YP to them?
I'm really beginning to see what local could be, but I'm not sure if people in my area will be so receptive. I think everybody has heard how revolutionary and life-changing the Internet is, and they've accepted that those changes are limited to what they're seeing right now. Priceline, google, yahoo, porn, email, IM. I've heard countless water cooler conversations revolving around a new, cool site somebody discovered. Not a single local site in the mix -- both because there are none of note, and because they haven't even begun to think about local.
Are any of you finding receptive venture capitalists in your locality, or are you all self-funded?
I know I'm a newbie and quite naive, so go easy on me.
I think the differences are much bigger than those of overhead, local culture, and some of the other surface reasons why it appears an outsider would have difficulty competing with a local.
I think a successful local project will be one which compiles offline data and connects offline information. This is a different method than that used by any of the national sites... they seem to have an "advertise and they will come" mantra. They have addresses and phone numbers and integrate some basic functions in a few industries (booking rooms, restaurants, etc) but in the end they are just glorified yellow books. They focus on saving time and maybe a few bucks, but they're not providing any deeper information.
Some have reviews (oh my!) of local bricks, but they are so flawwed and lacking that I can't imagine many people use them or look for them when they're trying to find a restaurant tonight.
Is this as far as these nationals shoot? Are they just trying to fight for market share at this point, or do they have plans to integrate themselves more deeply into the localities?
I think the goals and potential for a local-by-locals are so much more involved offline that it would take a HUGE chunk of change to conquer even a single city. Every day I see new areas that could be served better by local integration, but the costs to do so are very great. That's why I asked about the VC's before... because it would take a serious and well-financed effort in order to get a local operation really working in the way I can only currently dream about. I think to-consumer advertising would be a very small portion of the total costs.
Seems like it. That is great.
I think the key to a local site that you are contemplating is concentration. Carving out a niche that will allow you to be the best.
Too many organic local sites try to be everything to everyone- city portals. Forget about it.
Concentrate and be the best at something and opportunities will present themselves.
I just meant to say that I see so many different niches that could be served by a local effort.
I don't think I'll make a stab at any projects until I've had more time to research them and determine business interest. My ideas are a bit too broad though, so I'll have to do some paring.
I was wondering what type of revenue model are there for local searchs. I know the basics, can you guys tell me if I left out any.
1. IYP, so you charge your local business for special promotion.
2. Banner ads/ad word - okay.
3. For business listings such as jobs
4. I really don't know : )
can someone help me out?
Also when you guys say local by local, do you basically mean that the information are compiled by the customer themselves?