There aren’t many good places to go on the Internet to generate leads in the world of prospecting and finding new business. Some places try to sell you contact lists, others may ask that you advertise with them in exchange for being in an exclusive directory, and sometimes you even have to dive into the depths of Craigslist. In my own experience, none of these ever proved to be fruitful.
I spent the first three years of business by prospecting through my own general list of contacts and spider-webbing referrals from there. I was always able to find enough business that way but I still continued to search for other ways to find leads. About a year ago I came across a website called “Thumbtack” and instantly found success and more importantly, RETURN.
Thumbtack is a website that promises to “introduce consumers to pros” when they are looking for a particular service. For example; you are interested in a website for yourself or your business. You can go to Thumbtack, answer a few quick questions about the project in mind, and within hours, you’ll be receiving quotes from verified Professionals of that industry.
All was extremely well until after the first of the New Year and I noticed every lead coming through Thumbtack had an extremely low budget in comparison to before and what it really costs to have a website designed and developed. I decided to call Thumbtack and asked a representative if there had been a change in the questionnaire parameters as it pertained to budget for the project. The answer was “Yes”.
So what changed?
As of January 1, 2016, Thumbtack added a small, yet significant change to their questionnaire. When asking a consumer the budget for their project, Thumbtack began offering these options; Under $200, $200-500, $500-$1,000, Over $1,000, Not sure yet. That slight change is resulting in a once incredible lead website that could boast significant ROI to professionals of the web industry into becoming a more aesthetically pleasing Craigslist.
There is more to this than Thumbtack just presenting low prices for website design/development services. When a person seeking the services of a website/design professional sees those price options, there is an immediate change in their expectation of what it costs to design and develop of a website. Thumbtack stopping at ‘Over $1,000’ causes the consumer to believe that at most, a website may only cost a tad over $1,000. Consumers will not read that option and expect a price to be much more than $1,000. This expectation carries beyond Thumbtack and will change the consumer’s opinion of all website companies as they continue their search to get the project completed.
The most important effect of such a change likely has not been felt by Thumbtack just yet but soon will be. The reality is that any consumer can get a website within the price parameters that Thumbtack is presenting but what they get may, as the saying goes, “be exactly what they paid for.”
You see, Thumbtacks biggest error in judgement is that they thought they were doing a favor to the consumer by offering them lower cost solutions. However, after enough consumers are disappointed by low-cost solutions, it won’t take long for Thumbtack’s reputation to spoil and soon become the second most popular place on the Internet to get cheap service.
Of course, maybe I am off base and Thumbtack was never intended to be a place for an agency to hunt for leads. I just know that at one time it was a service that I greatly appreciated for the return potential and even adopted as mandatory to use for all of our employees. Now it has become something that gets little more than a passing glance.
Thumbtack’s success hinges on positive consumer to professional experiences and their recent changes now have them walking a tightrope with consumer trust and once it is lost, it won’t come back.
Jim Blundo is the Vice President at Sparq Designs, a digital marketing agency in Pittsburgh. Learn more about him, here. If you have questions about building a relationship, contact the Sparq team today.