Ghost of Midnight

… about neighbors, community and Front Porch Forum

Better than classifieds?

Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009 by No comments yet

Online classifieds are a dime a dozen… but many of these services are failing lately.  As reported on Local Onliner

Jay Schauer, a friend who runs, … complains that “people seem to assume that classified advertising is an easy business to understand and enter. It’s not. It’s a business that demands fierce commitment to localization, understanding the nature of the small local advertiser, and a commitment to small, individual sales.”

Schauer notes that it is “hard ground for start-ups driven by dreams of an IPO. In the past year I’ve seen three competitors drown. Two others are careening toward the treacherous shoals…

“What those failing groups seem to have lacked is the desire to get down and get real with the individual advertiser who will actually pay for classifieds. That customer is not rich, not sophisticated, not interested in pretty, elegant or cool.”

He goes on to note that “the bulk of classified advertisers live in small towns and tight neighborhoods. They don’t build social networks. They are typically the salt of the earth — and hence of little interest to VCs. This customer wants RESULTS FAST. They want to get information to their neighbors — who are also their customers. Most important, they will pay a reasonable price to do so.”

“Classifieds are not pretty,” says Schauer. “But the economic engine they support is large and remains robust. More important, the neighbor-to-neighbor business interaction is core to the strength of the greater economy and to our political well-being.”

While Front Porch Forum is more about neighborhood conversation than classified ads, many of the postings are, essentially, classified ads shared among clearly identified nearby neighbors.  And FPF postings often out perform classified ads on Craigslist and other platforms.  In fact, a member just posted this on FPF in Burlington’s Old North End…

Hi Neighbors, In my recent posting offering to sell several items  (coffee table, accordion, shelves, etc.)  I received way more response then I ever expected!  I sold/gave the items to those offers which landed in my inbox first.  I apologize to all those who I did not respond back to… if you did not hear back from me, the items are gone!  Many thanks.

Posted in: Community Building, Democracy, Front Porch Forum, Local Online, MacArthur Fellows, Neighborhood, Online Classified Ads, social capital, Social Networking, Stories, Vermont

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