This is a classic chicken and egg problem. We need both users to be active in order to be successful, therefore requiring us to target both user types at once.

First, let's discuss your stack -

I have some good case studies I'd like to discuss with you related to this. I've launched 2 marketplaces using WordPress only, and a few others using a combination of WordPress only as the frontend. I'm a huge fan of creating your platform using as little dev costs as possible, testing your idea, then deciding what is the best code to scale with. This “MVP” strategy can be applied to marketplaces by using one of the many WordPress themes built to replicate a popular marketplace (i.e. Fiverr, Etsy, AirBnB…).

Simply search the platform you are trying to replicate “_____ + WordPress themes”.
Load and customize your theme.
Send out your email invites and bring in your first audience to test.

Fix the bugs, funnels, messaging…

Head to to convert your new platform to a native mobile app (total cost ~ $700).

Continue marketing until you have proven your model.
Begin custom development on a stable code base like angular .js.

Like I said, I'm a firm believe in using WordPress to launch and test. But I am not convinced you can stay in WordPress past the initial 100 active users/shoppers/day. At this point, issues willl arise including:

Database and user management
Customization limitations
Load limitations

So in short, build your MVP in WordPress and plan to take out some funding and have a dev team for when you are ready to scale.

Now, let's talk marketing -

Create a ‘hook’ for the service professionals - what’s going to keep them there while you are finding the egg… Thumbtack was very creative in that they built a tool that allowed professionals to post their new profiles to Craigslist:

“To start, we built a tool for professionals to easily post their Thumbtack profiles to Craigslist. Independent pros were already using Craigslist—we simply helped them better show off the quality of their work and highlight their online reputation. Chris Dixon rightly calls this approach, “come for the tool, stay for the network.” But once you’ve built a useful tool, the challenge is how to get it in front of people.”

This worked well because their service pros were already doing this. But, their manual process yielded ugly profiles.

For yours, it could be as simple as an embedded widget that pumps out calculations in return for an email address. Whatever it is, you will need something to keep them busy while you create demand.

Choose your local targets - where can you prove your model and test your process, messaging, systems and team? The best bet is where the competitors are not now or not ever. These may not be the “ideal” markets, but they will be ideal for testing.

Create an automated process for bringing in the service professionals - Your service providers need to be offered your new hook on an automated (continual and full-funnel) basis. I recommend starting with Facebook. There, you will be able to target by location and profession, and retarget those who come to your site, but do not convert. If your platform is more niche or high-end, you may consider display ads, Linkedin or Pinterest.

In either case, you will need to automate the service provider acquisition process.

Setup your CRM and email service - With all of the new potential chickens and eggs coming to your site, you will need a CRM to track and respond to it all. You will also need an email responder in place so that those emails you capture will stay in your funnel and inevitably convert. I recommend this CRM Software, Sales and Marketing Automation. Agile has created a CRM and Drip service in one. It’s well worth the <$80/mo.

The next step is to build your lists - You will need a good email list of customer prospects, as well as a list of contacts for your content marketing. You can use Linkedin and this site to grab email addresses for free: Find email addresses in seconds. To get your content and name out there, you will need to get in touch with bloggers, editors, and influencers in your niche. Use social sites and search to find these people. Use to decide if the sites are worth your time or not.

Make sure you have your messaging dialed in before you start this process. You will want to attach your purpose to a pain point in the community or niche in order to gain press.
Now that you have the service professionals coming in, and a system for keeping them in, you need to focus on customer acquisition - Hopefully you will be able to attract customers through organic search and PR. For instance, if your platform is niche enough, your developer setup the site correctly, and you have a lot of suppliers/pro’s, you should be able to start climbing the search rankings quickly. Your category pages should rank. If not, reconfigure.

If the size of your jobs (commission or revenue), you may need a sales force and/or a large ad budget to target the customers. If you are in this situation, contact me for more specific instructions. But for now, setup a funnel that is very specific to customer needs. This could be a cold email with a link to a category page of service pros they would be interested in, a targeted ad to that same page, a guest posts on sites that speak to your target audience, or various other methods… Just make sure you are capturing emails at this stage as often as possible. You may be getting a lot of traffic who are interested based on the newness, but not ready to order at the moment. Offer everyone a free download or something to get their email now. Then they will be in your drip and hopefully see an email from you next time they really need a service provider.

Send those campaigns - Use your CRM to start your drip sequences to the emails you have loaded. Search out some templates that have worked in your industry, and test out a few.

It’s late and I’m exhausted, so I’ll end it here

Best of luck!

Alex -

Answered 2 years ago

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