RevenueTwoPointZero is a new group of very smart folks who are trying to rethink the business model behind journalism. After their conference last weekend, they've published a series of blog posts on their brainstorming sessions. I'll be responding to many (if not all of them) with the rev2oh slug.
The rev2oh team came up with a really solid plan for how newspaper platforms can redo their classifieds sales online. I was really please to see them include aggregating craigslist as one of the goals. After all, why should newsorgs try to create a new social network when a perfectly good one already exists?
The one concern I had when reading their plan was that the premium content is very much a micro-payment model. This does work, (see: ebay), but it's not very user friendly.
In part, this response is applying Jeff Jarvis’ question: “[what would Google do]//www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfcWFvkcHVI)?” Or, more appropriately, “What would Apple do?”
Apple is the master of simplifying their offerings. You can’t buy options for an iphone to get a brighter screen, bluetooth, extra data every month, and a fingerprint-proof backing. That many options is confusing. iPhone comes in two versions that differ in just one way: memory. A customer only has one decision to make, and that simplifies their experience.
And that, after all, is what this entire proposal hinges on: a better user experience.
Recognizing that a tiered system is a different selling scheme, I opine that it's more user friendly. Let users pick from three options: free, extra, and high class.
Each tier will give them more benefits.
Free can be exactly as described. Plenty of flexibility, the option to upload pictures, tag your listing, etc… Mid-range could drop the ads, allow for more photos, allow for higher placement, give a few additional themes, and a shelf life of twice that of a free listings. Top of the line listings would drop ads, allow for unlimited photos, offer the best possible placement, bolder search results, give them more keywords, at least 5 themes, and a shelf life of at least a month.
The advantage of a tiered system like this is that users don’t really have to think. They’ll not be concerned about buying a new theme for a little extra money, or saving on keywords just to save a few bucks.
This is all about good design. As Steve Jobs says, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”