It’s all the rage. Everyone is talking about it. The media loves it. And VC folks won’t listen unless you do it.
Do what? Do ‘business-to-business’ online.
If one is to believe what one hears, only stupid money goes into business-to-consumer these days. The smart money goes into business-to-business.
(Note to self: Go to bank and return current holdings of stupid money and demand smart money in exchange.)
Anyway, let’s fast-forward a few months to when the really, really smart money will go to those sites that combine business-to-business with business-to-consumer.
Both at once. A hybrid.
To illustrate the model, let’s look at this week’s imaginary business, nicksLighting.com.
We’ll sell lighting fixtures. Lamps, bulbs, home lighting and office lighting, indoor and outdoor lighting, wiring – and everything else to do with lights.
When folks come to the site they’ll find a simple, functional homepage.
But there’ll be two homepages; one for contractors and one for consumers. The backend catalog and database will be the same, but the front ends will be different.
Why bother going to two separate audiences both at once?
Because we can sell to both – and because there is some potential for synergy there.
First, let’s look at the consumer pages. We’ll offer a huge selection of lighting fixtures and accessories at great prices.
But we’ll also offer information. Advice on choosing the right products. Advice on the best lighting for your home, deck and office. Advice on wiring and safety for the home-improvers.
Who provides this great advice?
The contractors, of course. (Under our eagle-like editorial supervision.) Why would they bother? So they can get their names and services in front of the end consumers.
Now, let’s look at the contractors’ page.
This will show the full catalog of items in the kind of volumes and at the prices our contractors will be looking for.
But, in addition to all the great products, we’ll also offer a real-time window on what consumers are looking for and expecting.
Who will be providing this ‘window’?
Our consumers, of course. We’ll have a consumers questions page on the contractors’ site. The consumers ask the questions, and the contractors provide advice. And promote their services at the same time.
The final link in this chain is where we connect needy consumers with eager contractors.
Consumer ‘A’ is rewiring his basement and needs some help. Luckily for him, Contractor ‘A’ is located in the same town and is ready to help.
They ‘meet’ at nicksLighting.com.
When these kinds of connections are made and business is transacted, a royalty is paid to nicksLighting.com. By the contractor.
So we make money in three ways. We sell to contractors, we sell to consumers and we make royalties when we introduce one group to the other.
Sure, the model needs fleshing out.
But once it’s working, it will be time to introduce nicksCarpets.com, nicksWindows.com, nicksSiding.com, nicksKitchens.com, nicksPlumbing.com, nicksGardens.com, nicksOffice.com and so on.
Sell to the consumer. Sell to the contractor. And profit when they get together.
From one site.