I’ve been coaching a number of individuals for the last six months, and I keep tabs on the barter industry through the BarterNewsWeekly.com website, which I own and manage, and two related themes have floated to the surface of the industry chatter and experience. Both are subsets of one major idea: the barter industry isn’t great at making suggestions.
First, from the prospect of technology, most internet barter websites to a TERRIBLE job of suggesting things for you to try to barter for. I’ve done half a dozen video reviews of internet barter websites in the last four days. ONE of them actually had the cahones to suggest that I might want something. They all do a decent job of getting me to sign up, providing a place for me to place an ad for the things I want to trade away, but then are sorely lacking in the area of suggesting or even letting me search for things I want to get. Come on! Make a global search work! There’s got to be a programmer out there that understands that actually posting something you want to trade is only the first step, and arguably the easiest step, of a barter transaction?! I’m very frustrated by the lack of attention given to the suggestion part of the equation.
The only site to provide me with any suggestions as to what I might want is neighborgoods.net, who showed me a list of things in my geographic area that are available to borrow. It’s not even a true barter site, but it is miles ahead of the barter-internet sites in this one area. Miles ahead…
That brings me to my second point. A lot of people in the traditional barter exchange world think that a broker’s job is to ask one question, and then provide the answers. The question they ask is, “What can I get for you?” It’s a good question to ask. It’s a good starting point. It also makes for a really low performing exchange.
Asking what I can get for you is only the first step. It’s the job of any exchange owner to fill in the blanks for their clients, and I mean filling in the blanks that their clients don’t even know exist.
There’s something I have been saying for years, but apparently I need to say it louder>>>BARTER FEELS FREE <<< It’s not free, but it feels free. Barter costs you time and money, but it feels free. That’s why a good barter broker will take time to make suggestions to their clients, over and over and over again. Clients are more willing to try new things on barter, because it feels free. Even if the client never asked for those suggestions.
I remember one of the first experiences I had with barter. I was working for a business development company who owned a barter exchange that I later managed for them. They had set up a Friday relax/steam blow off afternoon and had invited three or four massage therapists to show up and give the staff a massage. I had never had a professional massage before, but that day I received, free of charge but on the bill of my employer, a massage. Our company didn’t pay cash for that, but got it all done on trade. And since that day I have been hooked. In fact, it’s been almost three weeks now and I should go get one…but I digress.
It is the duty and responsibility of a good broker to provide ideas and suggestions to clients daily. With technology being what it is and the ability to communicate with members in so many different ways with so little effort, there is no excuse for a barter exchange not to be, at very least, emailing its members.
The two things the industry needs to learn? How to make suggestions via software and via direct contact. It’s time for the barter world to step up its communication. Get to it guys! And if you are stuck and don’t know how to make technology work for your exchange, give me a call and I will help you update and create your suggestion systems.