We currently live in the era of the intermediary business where “Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.” (Goodwin, March 2014).

Image by Wetp@int Mena - http://wetpaint-mena.com/
Image by Wetp@int Mena – http://wetpaint-mena.com/

So here are four things that your business can learn from these successful businesses, even if your business is not an intermediary:

  1. Spot an unmet demand

Intermediaries find out where there’s an unmet demand, ie not enough taxis, somewhere to connect online, easy ways to access wholesale products, or reasonably priced accommodation.

They find out about these unmet demands through unhappy people.  Unhappy people are people who are looking for something that they can’t find or are unhappy customers of existing businesses.

Finding these unhappy people is easy as people love to vent their unhappiness via social media sites, rating sites, online forums and through traditional media outlets like newspapers and magazines, so put on your unhappy people hat and go out and find the unhappy people in your industry.

  1. Have a user-centric website (and app)   

Once intermediaries have identified an unmet they then create an online space and mobile app that is super easy to use.  And it’s super easy to use from the customer’s perspective, as well as from their own perspective in that it’s easy to update and maintain with relevant stuff for their customers.

Their site is the ultimate in exceptional customer service.  The people interacting with their site can do what they want to do, quickly and efficiently.  It’s a one-stop shop offering the exact choices people need to meet their unmet demand.

  1. Provide products/services in an exceptional way

These incredibly successful intermediaries find the products / services that people are screaming out for.  They provide the information about these products / services in a way that is really easy to find, sometimes pulling the information in directly from their suppliers’ website or database, so it’s accurate and up to date.

They have effective procedures that ensures the whole workflow from customer contact to customer satisfaction works like a Swiss watch.  Their systems are so effective that anyone can do it, not just the business owner, because they are written down with the highest quality customer service in mind and they are followed religiously.

  1. Market and sell like an intermediary

Intermediaries then market their services via the same channels they found out about the unmet demand – social media, rating sites, online forums, and traditional media outlets.

They also use the techniques of these spaces to encourage loyalty and community by asking customers to post testimonials via social media and via their website, by providing opportunities for customers to rate their products / services, and by making their online presence an interesting place to ‘hang out’.

Get started now!!

Keep this in mind, if you are not running your business like an intermediary business, it’s very likely that your unhappy customers and other unhappy people who are not having their demands met will be found by an up and coming business in your industry who are using these intermediary techniques.  This means that some other business in your industry who is applying these basic rules will quickly take your business, and become the next Facebook, Uber, AirBnB or Alibaba.  Don’t let this happen to your business – get started now and be the next mega-star business.

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Four things your business can learn from Facebook, Uber, AirBnB, and Alibaba
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