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Growing a Directory Website with a Certain Audience (read details)

jonathanb987

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I'm interested in starting a directory website where people who offer certain local services post a listing for a monthly fee (I'm intentionally being vague on the industry).

For this industry, most people offering their services are aged between 40 and 70 with some outliers. The majority of people producing in this industry are not "tech-savvy," although they have the basic skills to search through Google and use a website like Craigslist or Facebook. This means it could be difficult to grow a presence on most social media and other online platforms, especially since they don't typically spend their free time browsing the internet and engaging with others online.

I'm not sure how to start/grow a directory website, especially with this demographic. The only option I've thought of would be to manually add some listings for other businesses for free in my local area, then letting it grow outward from there.

But for it to grow outward, the businesses listed would need to see results, therefore I'd need people coming onto the site to seek these services. These people have a similar demographic as the ones that are listing. Paid advertising? Let SEO do the work? Write blog posts? I'm having trouble determining a strategy to attract these people.
 
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Andy Black

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It’s a two sided marketplace. I’d start by getting the side that has the money and wants to give it to the other side. If you can’t get them then no money will change hands. Sure, you could attract them by having listings of the businesses, but how will they find those listings? Google? Go run some paid search ads first then?
 
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jonathanb987

jonathanb987

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Jun 12, 2019
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It’s a two sided marketplace. I’d start by getting the side that has the money and wants to give it to the other side.
If I focus on those who want to give money (the people using the directory), they won't have anyone to give their money too since no one is listed.

It's a two sided marketplace, so how can I only focus on one side? I must be missing something.
 

Julio Andres

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aah classic chicken and the egg dilemma. I'm making a marketplace too, and had the similar problem, not easy though. I'm still growing the "consumers" side. But if it's useful to you, I will explain what I did:

- I made a basic landing page explaining the benefits of my product, the landing should address some (or all) of the problems you detected on the niche.
- I started browsing internet to search for the "providers" that list their services on other websites, and compile the info on a google spreadsheet (name, email, phone)
- When I reach 200 potential clients (providers) I start call calling some of them to offer my product for free, and also take the opportunity to validate the product (do they really want this?, what else can I include? what are your problems?)
- I didn't call the 200 providers, the rest I just sent an email with the product and benefits.
- With this I managed to sign up like 50 providers, so at least the provider part of the marketplace it was getting fill.
- Then I started marketing to the provider side (instagram ads)
- I get to sign up a bunch more

Is important to mention that I started building the product like 2 months after I started calling people. The landing and the email marketing had only design mockups (the product is an app), not the real product, but they really look like the finish product.

Then when the product was finish I started marketing to the consumer part. Also, the providers where happy with what the product could do for them, so they also started marketing the product with their friends.

I see it like a real shopping mall. First you fill with stores, and then you open up for the general public. The stores will come if the shopping mall is well located or whatever they think is a good feature of the mall.

hope this helps.
 
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jonathanb987

jonathanb987

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Jun 12, 2019
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aah classic chicken and the egg dilemma. I'm making a marketplace too, and had the similar problem, not easy though. I'm still growing the "consumers" side. But if it's useful to you, I will explain what I did:

- I made a basic landing page explaining the benefits of my product, the landing should address some (or all) of the problems you detected on the niche.
- I started browsing internet to search for the "providers" that list their services on other websites, and compile the info on a google spreadsheet (name, email, phone)
- When I reach 200 potential clients (providers) I start call calling some of them to offer my product for free, and also take the opportunity to validate the product (do they really want this?, what else can I include? what are your problems?)
- I didn't call the 200 providers, the rest I just sent an email with the product and benefits.
- With this I managed to sign up like 50 providers, so at least the provider part of the marketplace it was getting fill.
- Then I started marketing to the provider side (instagram ads)
- I get to sign up a bunch more

Is important to mention that I started building the product like 2 months after I started calling people. The landing and the email marketing had only design mockups (the product is an app), not the real product, but they really look like the finish product.

Then when the product was finish I started marketing to the consumer part. Also, the providers where happy with what the product could do for them, so they also started marketing the product with their friends.

I see it like a real shopping mall. First you fill with stores, and then you open up for the general public. The stores will come if the shopping mall is well located or whatever they think is a good feature of the mall.

hope this helps.
Do I need to cold call people for my situation, or is it perfectly acceptable to list them without permission? This does not involve a product, just services.

On one side, there are people listing their services (the directory), then people who are in need of that service can use the directory to find them.

There about 6 or so categories for the types of services that would be listed on the site. They're all in the same industry. People going to the site will likely be interested in all those categories of service at some point. The services are location-based, therefore someone in New York wouldn't seek the services of someone in California.

What I was thinking of doing is the following:
1) Determine the areas that I'd need to have services listed in the cover (for the most part) the United States.
2) Find at least 1 service per category for each major area, therefore I can provide for each service in all locations.
3) Enter these businesses manually for free.

Now that I have a minimal directory built up, I'll need people looking for the service to find the website. This is where I'm having trouble. I don't have hundreds of dollars to spend on ads (also, my ad options for this industry are limited because of the demographic), and I don't have experience ranking for keywords such as "[SERVICE HERE] near me." I know about SEO for blogging, but not sure how to tackle this type of site.

Basically my concern is getting the right traffic to the site once I build up the directory.
Also, building up that directory by hand will be tough, so maybe there's a better way to do it?
Additionally, will services start paying for listings once the directory is built up, or will I have to find some sort of way to market to them?
 

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