I remember before google, and before we took the internet seriously, if I wanted to find a local company like an Ice Cream store, I would check the Yellow Pages. Once in the Yellow Pages, I’d go through the list of phone numbers and call each one until I came to a company that had what I wanted and interested me.
Now that we have google, if I’m looking for a business, then I google for it. If I’m specifically looking for a company that’s in my area, I’ll do a google maps and target by location. If I google, I get results based on my keywords based on relevance determined by google’s proprietary algorithms, and paid links that will appear at the top or on the side.
Something I’ve worked on for several small to medium sized businesses is building their websites so that specifically they generate search engine traffic, traffic to their pages, and then spent a lot of time studying page layouts, optimizing pages, using marketing tools to get people to submit their information. That’s what most company websites are about – generating sales leads.
But most company sites are terrible still. If I want to buy something I’ll typically go to google or amazon for consumer goods. However there’s not really a good website out there for business to business purchases. If I wanted to buy Lumber, for example, I’d have to punch it in google and search around for all lumber providers in the area. This isn’t something that I can just purchase on ebay. I’d have to then go to the top 5 or so companies websites and email them all asking for a quote (if I can’t find one on the website). This is incredibly time consuming.
I believe that if there were a website that was similar to the yellow pages, or amazon, or google, but had a specific layout and specific company information and that the website made it easy to compare companies, offered third party opinions about these companies, etc, that I would spend a lot less time on searching as far as Business to Business type transactions go. I would also be more likely to request a quote, or submit my personal information to a company which is verified as reputable by a site I consider reputable.
The advantages to sellers would be pretty large as well. If all that I had to do was put up specific information about my company and sit and wait for leads to roll in, this would be great. I wouldn’t have to worry as hard about throwing a ton of money at web developers and marketing copywriters, etc. Especially if this website already had a userbase of customers that I would be tapping into by registering with this company.
If then I heard my friends and other people I know saying that their business has really taken off after getting on this website, I’d definitely join and wouldn’t mind paying money for preferred listings or other features that would allow me to do more business.
As a freelance web developer, I’ve used sites like elance and rentacoder to try to get work. I’ve also used craigslist. I’ve also used other websites where I’ve had to “sell” myself, like online dating sites. If someone built a site for me where I could sell my freelance development, these are the things that I’d look for:
- Easy to use (sign-up and information gathering process baby-steps me through putting in relevant information
- Large user-base
- Search engine indexing for my company page
- Ability to receive sales leads from people requesting quotes. (Even if someone didn’t specifically look at my profile, but they indicated to the site that they were interested in having a website built, and I got an email informing me of this and giving me the opportunity to contact this person and try to sell myself, this would be huge)
- Ability to take the conversation off-site, especially after first contact is made. E-lance and Rentacoder force you to do all communication through their interface, and I find this incredibly restricting.
- Ability to perform tasks and distinguish myself from other developers. I’d like to be rewarded for spending time on building my company profile. I’d like to be directed towards how to get the most value out of my information.
- Actual customers contacting me
Anyway, that’s just some thoughts off the top of my head. If this idea has interested anyone, or you have thoughts, or if someone built you a website that would allow you to sell your product/services, what features would you want?