Day 89 – Thumbtack (not ThumbTaq)

I made crustless quiches for breakfast. There were 9 (or was it 11?) people to feed. The quiches went over well and were easy to make. It had been a while since I had made one and I forgot how good they are. 3 eggs with added cream to make 1 1/2 cups of liquid. Add 1-2 cups of other stuff (bacon and onions, ham and mushrooms) and 1-2 cups of cheese (Gruyere preferred though I used havarti and cheddar). Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes.

I made 2 batches of Thai curry for dinner. Still forgot to take pictures of that. Many fewer people by dinner time so we will have curry leftovers for a few days which is fine with us.

In between everything, yesterday I was playing around with the job site Thumbtack. (Not to be confused with an iPhone app I was working on for a while that I called ThumbTaq). With Thumbtack customers put out requests for people to do stuff for them like fix a leaky pipe, or haul away junk, or build a web site. I’m available there for building websites.

Thumbtack has had various pricing options and with the current scheme, I can quote jobs for free but if someone contacts me to talk about a job, I get charged. This is better, maybe?, than when you were charged whenever you quoted a job. I ended up actually talking to someone yesterday who probably won’t choose me because they have no budget ($200-$400) and by them contacting me to talk, Thumbtack charged my account $75 which seems high.

However, it led me to think more about marketing and how to find customers. What was disappointing about Thumbtack to me is that I’m very limited in how I can communicate though the quote I can give. I can let the prospective client know I charge some hourly rate, or I could quote a fixed price (though at best I know 2 badly written sentences describing the potential job) or I can say the price is “needs more information” and ask a bunch of questions in the quote.

It makes me really appreciate the idea of relationship marketing. People get to know me over time and decide if I’m the right fit for their job. How does that work? Well, they find me on social media, or find my website somehow or through some other outreach. They get to a page on my website and are offered something of value like an article about how to choose a web designer, or a video tutorial about setting up an e-commerce web site, or something valuable to my ideal customers. All they have to do is give me their email address and I’ll send it to them.

Separately they get asked permission to be added to my mailing list. If they consent to that and if they like what I send to them (i.e. it was genuinely useful for them), some of them will keep reading and watching what I send. They will get to know me more and decide over time if they want to work with me.

One key thing is that at the point that they sign up for my mailing list, they aren’t buying anything from me. Most people aren’t ready to buy at any one time. Eventually they might be ready to buy. But they don’t have to be ready today. And if people read about me and don’t like what they read, they won’t talk to me and won’t be a potential customer and that is great. Because I only want to work with people who like me and what I stand for and how I do stuff. If that relationship is out of balance, it will be bad for both me and them.

Thumbtack is all about people who want to buy now. That is great for leaky faucets and hauling away junk. It is less great for more extensive service oriented jobs. More on this tomorrow.