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Directory as a business model?

Positive & negative reviews & membership prescription

9:06 pm on Aug 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I have an idea to create a portal in a niche health sector. Would have:
. a blog (articles by service providers in the sector and editorial articles by me).
. forum - questions from the public answered by public and service providers
. directory of service providers with reviews, ratings, business profile etc. - inclusion in the directory costs a monthly membership fee

My idea is to help the public select the best service providers and allow the public to leave reviews of those service providers. Service providers would pay a monthly fee. Site would sell banner ads and some other services not relevant to this thread.

This presents conflicts.

1. By including negative reviews service providers will cancel their subscription.
2. By omitting negative reviews I am not serving the public.

One approach:
. allow sponsored listings (to drive revenue)
. list all service providers in the sector
. welcome all positive and negative reviews but prove veracity before posting. notify service providers of all new reviews posted to their profile, arguing that people will leave reviews on websites whether they like it or not, and its better to be notified.
. sell advertising

I'd be glad to get some feedback on this.

1:41 pm on Aug 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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It's the age old dilemma of bad reviews vs. advertisers. No matter how you try to spin it, people are always not going to like the bad reviews posted about them.

One suggestion I have is that you allow service providers to respond online to bad (as well as good) reviews, which coincides nicely with your notification of reviews.
2:04 pm on Aug 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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HI johoney,

That is a great idea, go for it.

As for the dilemma in hand, personally i think that a service provider without bad reviews is shady.

Value your users and advertisers will come in bunches and will make sure they treat your visitors right to keep on getting those good reviews.

Keep going forward,

5:00 pm on Aug 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I'd first review your potential competitors to see if (or, really, how many times) this has been done.
8:25 pm on Aug 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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ProblemSolver - great point re shady provider that has no negative reviews. Its a given now and in the future that there will be some negative reviews of every service provider. The knack is how to get alerted and defend reputation, which speaks to LifeinAsia's point. We will alert the providers and thus become their trusted and necessary ally.

Rocknbil - good point. There is nothing similar to what we plan to offer in this niche. Worth noting that its not an English language site.

FWIW we will build with cakephp + croogo + salesforce + amazon AWS.

If it works as a platform we may license the platform to other digi marketing companies that they can use in this or similar niches in other languages. I will post the site once we launch.

Feel free to add to the thread if you have questions about the business model and technology.