You know what would be great... A platform exclusive for Marketplace experts ;)
I would answer this in short by saying you don't attract them simultaneously.
The Chicken and Egg problem is solved (historically) by attracting and retaining the top providers of whatever service first. This, in turn, creates the - "have" to be there or at least submit proposals there, or risk paying more, getting less etc... - notion in the customer's brain.
As for Clarity specifically, watch this video of Dan Martell (founder of Clarity.fm) telling the story of how they did it:
I have helped launch a few service-to-customer platforms in the last few years. So my related answers and advice are all outlined here:
I'd suggest finding a hook for the experts/service providers first and foremost. Boiling your platform down to a niche is best if you're strapped for cash. And further pinpointing a localized or network-oriented market is a great strategy. Quora, for example, utilized their founders' relationships with VC's in Silicon Valley to gain their influencer early adopters. Thumbtack.com used a creative strategy of creating a tool for their service providers to use (for free) to help them with their craigslist ad posting needs. This added the stickiness they needed to keep those first service providers while they marketed to customers.
Let me know what specific answers I can help you with. I'm better with specifics.
You have two customers.
1 > experts
They have a problem: where can they find good clients who can afford their expertise? People who ask good questions?
2 > users
They have a different problem: where can they find competent, experienced experts who are available to answer their questions?
The users may want a discount on price. The experts would not like this. This is a branding & positioning question for you to answer.
You're going to have to get some early adopter experts to believe in and participate on your platform to demonstrate its validity.
Then the users will come.
Then word of mouth will take over to spread awareness that your platform exists.
Remember, this is a SOLUTION for people. Approach it that way. What's in it for them--not you.
Experts come to get more business and sharpen their skills. Users come through marketing.
The secret to success: I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with some of the biggest names in business, celebrities, actors, entrepreneurs, business people, and companies from startup to billion dollar operations. The number one reason for their success is doing what they know and love while doing it in new, creative, and innovative ways.
Best of luck,
Take massive action and never give up.
Michael Irvin, MBA
Marketplace are the most difficult model to build. It is like building 2 businesses. One that is a service provider and the other that is a demand generator.
Essentially you are selling two products to two distinct sets of consumers and being the market maker. Make your Business stories that their needs.
People who provide solution in clarity don't do it for $. No on does 9-5 clarity calls for living (unlike Uber). When an expert has this feeling to share his knowledge to a needy person, clarity provides a way to do it.... So you need to identity where the appetite lies and how to sell it..
Even if you have lot of leads at both sides, it needs a lot of try and error to reach the right equation where to have an optimal supply-demand ratio.
Feel free to talk.
If you don't have the seed users/consumers for both sides, you have start building it and gradually in a controlled manner start introducing them to both sides of the business until you perfect the right mix..
like Flour and Water - when it comes to bread making... :-)
Happy to read if you want to share what your business is about. May be we can do a 3 mins brainstorm after that..
My strengths are
- How can you use technology to measure the KPI
- Design systems and processes in place to achieve this goal.
The best thing for you to do is to copy Clarity.fm
THis site is the perfect example for you.
It's number one key mode is the Answers section - here the buyers and sellers can watch, read, test out and ultimately make a decision to buy.
I get people contacting me BECAUSE I write Answers on Clarity.fm so I'm proof this works.
One word of caution, beware having a big imbalance of buyers and sellers. You need experts in the marketplace before you attract buyers, BUT experts won't get involved and won't engage and come back over and over unless people are actually buying. There is a big marketing communications piece which connects your site back to individuals' inboxes.
Here is an example of a failing marketplace http://blurgroup.com/
With a little research you can see there is an evident imbalance in buyers and sellers and very few recently-dated jobs listed. It's clear this will not last.
I have worked at a large marketplace company for over 7 years. The general answer to this is to find service providers (or "experts" in clarity speak) first, and then go after the buyers.
1. Getting providers is cheaper than finding buyers
2. Buyers won't come to your site without an "inventory" of providers
3. Providers create SEO karma
4. You will figure out the issues with your idea or service as soon as you start talking to providers.
I can speak in general to the marketplace business model (re: Gun.io -- we have 20,000+ on the expert side) and tell you that the conventional wisdom in a marketplace model is that you must first subsidize the supply side of the market, which is then used to attract the demand side. Think of a shopping mall as a standard example: must have stores before shoppers, but how do you overcome the chicken/egg? The answer is you have to get big box stores to "anchor" the model and then get smaller stores to fill in the gaps. All of that must be done first, by demonstrating to those stores who you WILL attract market demand after you have them in place via your marketing efforts to the demand side.
Just being on Clarity I have received probably a dozen requests to join another "experts" marketplace. That's not going to cut it because it's obviously a copycat model. The key is going to be targeted outreach whereby the experts see a legit way to grow their businesses and their brands by being involved.
You should not do it simultaneously. If you do you will waste a lot of precious resources.
The general rule is that you should start with a supply in your case with the list of experts. The best practice here is to start with experts in some niche field (for instance not finance experts but rather financial controllers that help startups in pre-seed stage) and also in a specific area (city or even neighbourhood).
To attract the supply side there are a couple of proven strategies:
- Job offers. You advertise this as a part-time job on job sites and leverage the traffic from job sites to yours. Its a fairly cheap way.
- Calculators. You build salary/gig calculators that help supply side to calculate how much can they earn/or how much should they earn and convert them on your website.
- Create the content on the niche subject and post it like a mad person on relevant groups in FB, Linkedin, Twitter etc.
- Scrape your competitor's websites for contact data to your supply. Airbnb did this with Craiglist.
- Create referrals for your supply to invite more supply. Uber did this at the beginning of their operations.
Once you have a couple of them you can start offering their services to a niche customer (demand side).
Once there is enough demand you refocus on supply again to either add more experts in the same niche or add another niche.
Marketplaces are like production lines you always need to focus on bottlenecks, once you figure out one you need to move to the next one.
There are however strategies when companies start with the demand. Its called it "Fake it until you make it". Nobody speaks about it however the majority of startups use it. Basically, you set up fake profiles and advertise it to the demand side of the marketplace. Once there is a request you start looking for supply.
Oh and you don't need code for this. Designer, Google sheets, zapier, typeform or Wordpress (Airbnb started on Wordpress). You should not spend more than 200 $/month for a subscription to these tools. You can use also platforms like Sharetribe that have all the basic marketplace functions built in.