Posted May 21, 2015 by Steve Young
Managing and growing a marketplace is hard work. You need to focus your efforts on growing both the supply and demand side of the business, which doesn’t leave you much time for anything else.
How can you juggle all of the tasks of marketing, search engine optimization, customer service, and other business-related activities while still paying attention to the growth of the marketplace?
The key to making all of the pieces fall into place is leveraging other marketplaces to handle the tasks that you lack the expertise for. In other words, you have to learn how and when to outsource work. Outsourcing used to be just for the big names, and cost big bucks to do, but those days are long gone.
In today’s crowd-sourced economy, there are a number of marketplaces that allow you to outsource tasks for a fraction of what it used to cost. Let’s take a look at seven examples of how marketplaces can leverage other marketplaces to grow their business.
#1: Finding Content Writers
Maintaining a blog for your marketplace is a good way to ensure fresh content on a regular basis and better rankings in the search engine results pages. What if writing is not your strong suit, though? Sure, you could possibly hire a writer full-time, but maybe you don’t need enough content created to warrant another employee on your payroll.
This is where freelancers come into play, and there are several options for locating content writers who can provide you with excellent copy without costing an arm and a leg. For example, Hire a Helper uses eByline, a marketplace for content writers, to locate the right content writers with the appropriate experience and credentials to generate blog posts and other articles.
#2: Sourcing Graphics Designers
When you need a logo, infographic, or other image created, you want it done right the first time. For most marketplaces, graphics design is needed even less frequently than content writing, but the skill of the artist is no less important. Bringing a graphics designer on board with the rest of your staff is usually overkill, so this is another fantastic opportunity to leverage other marketplaces to grow your own marketplace’s business.
Just as there are a number of freelance sites for writers, so there are for graphics designers. One popular choice is 99designs, a crowdsourced marketplace that brings up to 850,000 designers to you, presenting you with dozens of choices that you can choose from.
OpenSponsorship, a sports sponsorship marketplace, has successfully used both Elance and designcrowd to have logos and flyers designed. Using a freelance marketplace for graphics design makes perfect sense, because you can get quick turnaround times and very reasonable prices.
#3: Offshoring Your Data Entry
Data entry is important, but it’s incredibly boring. If you are paying one of your advertising sales associates a hefty salary, you don’t want them spending all of their time doing data entry.
Instead, you can use marketplaces like Upwork (formerly oDesk) and Fiverr to hire a virtual assistant to handle that data entry for you. Cooperatize, a marketplace that allows brands to purchase content at scale, gives each of its team members a budget for Elance and oDesk. Cooperatize challenges its employees to make mundane aspects of their jobs obsolete, passing off data entry work to virtual assistants (often overseas) who will do the work for pennies on the dollar and still provide perfectly accurate service.
#4: Leveraging Festivals and Expos
If you are a marketplace for products and don’t promote those products at festivals and expos, you are missing out on an incredible opportunity to grow your sales figures. Many expos and festivals see thousands of visitors each day, which provides an almost instant boost to the number of eyes on your marketplace.
For a nominal fee, you can have a booth or a table from which you can sell the products from your marketplace and also pass the word along about the greater selection available from your website.
#5: Ready-Built Online Storefronts
Yes, you can have your own online storefront created for your marketplace, but leveraging the wider reach offered by existing marketplaces often makes more sense. For one thing, utilizing a ready-built online storefront means you don’t have to have your own eCommerce site built and maintained. Instead, you can simply set up your product offerings on an existing online store, and cut out the need for your own eCommerce storefront.
Spreadshirt, for example, uses popular marketplace Amazon to promote and sell its seller’s products. Spreadshirt sellers whose products are offered through the Amazon Marketplace have seen a doubling, and sometimes tripling, of revenue, and average sales can increase by as much as 200 percent.
#6: Locating SEO Experts
If you maintain your own Web presence for your marketplace, it is important to drive traffic to your site. Finding a search engine optimization (SEO) expert to help with that can be bewildering and expensive, but there are plenty of independent SEO practitioners available on a freelance basis, if you only know where to look.
Once again, marketplaces like oDesk, Elance, and Fiverr are great places to look. You can often find a freelancer with the skills and qualifications to get you the results you need, but at a fraction of what it might cost to hire an SEO firm that has its own employees to pay.
#7: Outsourcing Customer Relations and Service
If your marketplace has a need for customer relations or customer service, but does not need a lot of manpower, working with freelance customer service representatives can often be the key to success. The usual suspects, Elance and Upwork, have plenty of candidates, but you can often find a better selection of customer service experts from Staff.com.
Challenge yourself and your employees to leverage other marketplaces to manage and grow your own marketplace. Big names such as Elance and Fiverr have numerous service offers, but you can also find specialized talent in niche marketplaces such as 99designs, eByline, etc.
(Header photo by SmartShoot photographer, Casey McCallister.)
About Steve Young
Steve Young is the Director of Product Marketing at SmartShoot. He enjoys writing about marketing, design and product development. Although he shares the same name as a famous quarterback he unfortunately does not share the same bank account, so please throw him a bone and share or comment on his posts. Connect with him on Twitter and Google+.
Keep in touch: @stevepyoung