I frequently get approached and pitched by people trying to enter into the local reviews and word of mouth referrals business. It happened again today....and my advice to this entrepreneur is the same as it was to other entrepreneurs in the space. (Forgive me if this is a repetitive post)
i) GET TO CRITICAL MASS
- Do this by limiting geography -- stay in one geography for 3 years. Yes, 3 years. Do not expand geography for the first 36 months. Every successful online local business has been in one geography for 3 years.
- Do this by limiting the number of categories or professions you're trying to get word of mouth on. Do not try and do the entire yellow pages. Choose at most five categories. I might suggest: restaurants, dentists, doctors, auto mechanics, and real estate.
- Do this by aggressive customer acquisition. Whatever your strategy for customer acquisition, get aggressive about. Do not sit in an ivory tower and expect to get to critical mass.
- Aggregate content from other places on teh web so you can avoid the empty database problem
- Spend as little money as possible
ii) Go back to step i