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Old 3rd October 2006, 11:52 AM   #1
mhuggins's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Wilmington, DE
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Lightbulb Ideas for a Free Dating Website

Everyone knows that there are lots of dating sites out there: Yahoo! Personals; Match; American Singles; and the list goes on. All of these sites (with the exception of one -- PlentyofFish.com) require some sort of member fee, typically on a month-to-month basis.

I am interested in competing with these sites by offering a free dating service, with revenue generated solely through ads on the site and via e-newsletters. The closest site offering this is PlentyofFish; however, it is to my belief that the presentation of this site is not aesthetically pleasing, and there are many features missing from the site that most of the pay sites provide. I'd like to combine the features/format of the pay sites with the goals of PlentyofFish.

My main concern is the following: I am not completely sure how to go about marketing the site. For people to want to join as members and create profiles, they will undoubtedly want to see that there are members already on the site, and that their time won't be wasted by creating a profile here. How can I get members to join even though there are none on the site at its initial launch?

My main thoughts were the following:

1.) Focus on one area at a time. I live in Wilmington, DE, so I was planning on focusing here or perhaps in Philly. Since member searches occur by radius searches via zip codes, then if I can get a few members to join in one city, I can potentitally have other people in the same city locate them since I am focusing on one area.

2.) Host live dating events -- speed dating, social gatherings, etc. While people are meeting in person, I could provide fliers or business cards with the website address that will provide the URL. As the host, I will have the opportunity to explain that it is a new site, and that they will be some of the first members to join.

3.) Offer joining incentives. Provide gift certificates for places in the area, such as restaurants, or perhaps even websites. I could potentially obtain gift cards for free in exchange for promised advertising from related businesses (restaurants, 1-800-flowers, etc.) for a set period of time.

Other than these ideas, I haven't thought of anything else. I have never had my own business before, and I didn't major in any form of marketing (only generic business classes), so I am sure there are many concepts that I do not know at this point in time that could be of some use here.

Any input/feedback is greatly appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to read this!

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Old 9th October 2006, 12:52 PM   #2
LBBMike's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 61

Your idea has potential, but as you pointed out, people are already doing the same or similar. IMO, your best bet to gain the interest and attention of users is to offer something of value that makes you stand out over the other sites. This could be a service, like something as simple as a new way to connect with others or a new way of profile matching - something that makes finding a date more fun, convienent or whatever.

People look for value. When designing your site, ask: what value can your site provide over the others?

I think the live dating events idea is too risky. You will not only be running a website, but you'll have to be a full time party promoter, which requires a significant amount of time and money.

Joining incentives could work out. Now that your site has hooked 2 people up, they're ready for their date. Why not match up businesses to their night out, with discounts to boot?

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