Hey everyone, it’s Barbie again. I recently posted about an opportunity I have to be a partner in a new online dating business. I’ve had a chance to do some more research and wanted to share some of my findings. Online dating services now appear to serve every group of daters — no matter how small. There are dating services for seniors, for the disabled, those with STD’s or even those who love their iPods and Mac’s. Additionally, dating services for swingers, the BDSM community and LGBT exist in droves. So how does one differentiate themselves when trying to make a splash within this crowded universe of sites? This appears to be a very tough question, and my friend Claire and I have spent quite a few hours over the past few days discussing this. It seems there are a few key criteria when it comes to the success of online dating services.
Firstly, successful dating services have a large population of members which translates to a greater selection of partners. However, what comes first — the chicken or the egg? If large membership is needed to be attractive, how does a dating service grow from start-up to vibrancy? One solution is a large advertising campaign — but this requires significant capital. Another solution is to make the site so useful and attractive that users will naturally come. This is easier said than done. Our initial research has determined that users of dating services seek sites which fulfill several important criteria. First, as indicated, a wide selection of members is desired. However, users become frustrated if these members are actually just fake profiles. Some unscrupulous dating services create an abundance of fake profiles with attractive pictures in order to appear larger than they are. There are actually sites now which verify the information of their members, and this idea intrigues Claire and me — and we are seeking to incorporate this methodology into our business plan.
Users of dating services crave simplicity and ease of use. This partly explains the popularity of Craigslist for hooking up. However, sites like Craigslist can often entail risk — in terms of less than truthful posters all the way to potential safety concerns. A niche dating site as easy to use as Craigslist — but with screened members — serving a sex-positive community of couples — seems to be our current focus. I’m about ready to approach Tom with our thoughts so wish me luck!