Service marketplaces have recently become Silicon Valley darlings. It’s a model that dates back to the initial concept of Yellow Pages in the late 18th century. And it makes sense — giving consumers and small business owners a convenient way to find services around them (i.e., accountants, publicists, business coaches, web developers, graphic designers, social media managers and everything in between), while giving those same local businesses exposure to new clients.
The 1990s saw the first innovation of the marketplace model with the birth of Craigslist. But it has only been over the past 10 years that we’ve seen a major flow of investment dollars into the service space, fueling countless types of local marketplaces to pop up.
Some focus on reviews, some on discounts, some on concierge-like experiences; some offer full-service business tools.
Countless billions of dollars have been raised generating leads for small businesses, from Yelp, Angie’s List and Thumbtack with unique takes on search and discovery for clients — independent reviews to judge quality, verified ratings to assess trust level and a multitude of price quotes for optionality. At the same time, they gave professional businesses like digital marketing agencies and website development companies new platforms on which to advertise — from traditional paid local marketing, to ad hoc lead generation.
Increased competition and the popularity of the platform model positively impacted both clients and small businesses looking to grow revenues and profits — more search and discovery options for clients, more advertising and marketing options for pros.
But there also were innovations in the user experience of discovery and lead generation. Pitchstack, for example, changed up the search process altogether. Instead of clients spending time combing through a bunch of professional profiles, they simply submitted one-time details on which services they needed and the pros (who pay for the warm leads) reached out directly to pitch. This model is convenient in that you can send detailed service requests to multiple SMEs in your area and have them all pitch to win your business.
Unlike on-demand marketplaces that charge a 20-30 percent fee per transaction in exchange for delivering business to the pro, comparison marketplaces like Pitchstack simply allow clients to compare pitches from 3-5 businesses, compare and engage directly. Criticisms of marketplaces that control transactions abound. The last thing they want is to have their client’s data owned by a marketplace middleman. Marketplaces have every incentive to drive clients back onto their platforms to book more professionals, book new professionals, book competing professionals and even charge for additional transactions.
Pitchstack is novel in that it allows “off-platform” behaviour without the 30 percent clip, charging fairly, and allowing clients and SMEs to engage with each other naturally, via email or phone. It gets out of the way and allows relationships to foster and grow organically.
As far as SME advertising is concerned, Pitchstack could become a global favourite for finding a professional agency or business to undertake a service for you.