What do eBay, Yelp, Threadless, and “Go Try it On” Have in Common?

NYT They all built platforms that help people bridge online and offline, local buyer and product/service source, connect peers, and filter information and data, create engagement and community based on reputation systems.

Marrying marketing with technology, you can collect data from interactions and use it to improve your results. This makes eBay (and Milo.com), Yelp, Threadless, and Go Try it On the perfect tools for hundreds of small business owners to profit from creating and exchanging value.

On Monday, June 13, I was invited back to moderate a panel conversation at the NYT Small Business Summit on its 6th yearly event to discuss marketing and technology. In addition to 725 smart business owners and representatives from the media, joining me on the panel are:

Jack Abraham, Director of eBay Local and Founder/CEO of Milo.com
Marissa Evans, Founder/CEO of GO TRY IT ON
Luther Lowe, Manager of Local Business & Government Affairs, Yelp
Jake Nickell, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Threadless

We will talk about the benefits of technology to market your business. Focusing on helping small business owners determine how to be found and stand out online — the value of ratings and reviews, incorporating customer ideas into your product and service, and how to increase commerce at your location.

The conversation will center on what you can do to maximize your online presence at customer destination sites, engage potential customers, and the benefits of monitoring and using established platforms for marketing and feedback.

If you're attending the summit Monday, feel free to chime in with yours in the comments here and on Conversation Agent Facebook page. I will be monitoring both sites during the weekend.

Thought starters

  • what 3 little-known about things does your platform/tool do to help jump start marketing for a small business owner?

I'll get us started here.

Kate Hudson_Penny Lane I'm thinking about how Yelp helps beyond ratings/reviews to finding events, special offers, and a free business account you can set up to connect with customers.

The integration of Milo.com into eBay Local to connect small to mid-size retailers and local shoppers who will be able to upload their local inventory and automatically share the real-time availability of their products (starting retailers who use Quickbooks point-of-sale systems). 

You may not know about this app yet; I know you will try it. With 250,000 downloads in one year, 30% from international locations, Go Try it On is ready for a tune up with more features. You can sign on with Facebook Connect, Twitter, and soon other OpenIDs, get an opinion and give an opinion, either with the larger community of users, or just among friends. Real time feedback.

To me, Threadless is a place to build community that just happens to get people creative in the process. It will be interesting to explore how they moderate discussions and the voting at the site, and get a sense for where the new technology platform they are making available for other companies, Atrium, is finding new applications.

  • Where is the best way to start if you're not familiar with these platform as a business owner vs. a consumer?
  • How do you integrate mobile in your platforms? What tips do you have for thinking about mobile content and engagement? 
  • What kind of data and reports are most useful for feedback?

I also found an interesting post on the persistence of SMB churn problem, that is that small businesses were churning out of the local SEM offerings that Webvisible, ReachLocal, Yodle and others were selling, causing Google to shut down the search engine marketing (SEM) reseller program.

A couple of the problems jumped out at me as potentially interesting to address in this conversation:

  • A lack of education for the SMB-buyer (resulting in a lack of understanding of the products and proper expectations)
  • The intangible “peekabo” quality of online advertising — an inherent problem for the SMB vs traditional advertising

Audiences have fragmented and that makes it even more challenging for small business owners to figure out how to invest and where to invest their marketing dollars online. Understanding what it takes to get leads, and that it's a combination of things, not just advertising, is key.

  • How can small business owners help address that tension with organizations that re-sell paid per click (PPC) advertising? Without getting into social media, are there platforms and tools they can use to take control of part of the search results to their benefits?

We'll look to help you walk away from the event with practical, usable information. Where is a recommendation when you need one?


[Kate Hudson in Almost Famous]

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0 responses to “What do eBay, Yelp, Threadless, and “Go Try it On” Have in Common?”

  1. Wow, Go Try It On is a brilliant app, and has a ton of viral elements. Thanks for this post, I also didn’t know the premium Yelp allows businesses to connect directly with customers. Good to know.

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