Thursday, November 4, 2004

Matching Professional Services to Specs: Opportunity for Directory Publishers?

Somewhere between online dating, online procurement and electronic trading lies a vast range of professional services that are just beginning to find help from Web-delivered content services. The New York Times notes the rise of ServiceMagic, a portal that matches home-oriented contractors to consumers' needs in a format not unlike an online dating service, driving people through a series of project spec menus to match your needs with qualified contractors, with customer feedback available to help avoid bad blind dates. It works for everything from home finance to architects to plumbers and provides an interesting model around which to develop a wide range of content services. A model like this would be very interesting to extend into the arena of B2B product directories, which are already focusing on what Shore affiliate Russell Perkins refers to the "Three R's" of online directory content - ratings, rankings, recommendations. Getting people not just to the right product but as well to the product that meets specific needs is a key factor in today's content - oftentimes going beyond simple taxonomies to a deeper understanding of purchasing or transaction requirements.
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