Imagine the world’s most beautiful website.
Do you have a picture in your mind? It is glorious to behold. It may even give you warm fuzzies.
Do you have the picture in your mind?
Does it look anything like this?
Probably not. The website is Craigslist. At its core, it is an online classifieds site where you can buy or sell stuff, find a place to live, etc.
Craigslist is the 11th most popular website in the United States and is in the top 40 worldwide.
Craigslist is the brainchild of Craig Newmark (thus the name “Craig’s list”). Craig’s title is an interesting one: “Customer Service Rep and Founder.”
Picture the founder of your company, sitting in a call center answering the phone all day. Customer Service Rep and Founder.
Craig lives by some simple principles. In an interview in Founders at Work, he said:
We listen. We do stuff, we follow through, and then we listen more.
So does he really listen? Yes, even if you’re skeptical, the answer is yes. A couple of years ago, I posted a blog entry criticizing a certain company and contrasting that with how great Craigslist and Craig Newmark were.
Sure enough, Craig was listening and he stopped by and left a comment on my site.
So Craig listens. In fact, not only does he and Craigslist listen, but they take action. Craig says:
What we do is almost 100 percent based on what people ask us to do.
So why should you take business advice from Craig? If you’ve ever used Craigslist, you probably never had to pay any commissions for the service. So you think, “Craigslist probably isn’t even making money. Why should I take business advice from a company that doesn’t make any money?”
Well, in fact Craigslist is pulling in some handsome revenues. Reports indicate Craigslist will make over $80 million in 2008.
So how do they make their money? Craigslist charges for select listings in a few markets. For example, not too long ago there were lots of shenanigans in the brokered apartment listings in New York City. Legitimate brokers came to Craigslist and asked to be charged. It would keep out the riff raff and improve the quality of the listings.
So Craigslist listened and acted. They now charge for some job listings in other markets and all of these together add up to some nice revenues that profitably fund the entire company.
Craigslist makes money because they listen to customers and act on that feedback.
Are you listening to customers?
Are you internalizing what they are saying and what it means for you?
And most importantly, are you taking action?
If not, you’ve got your homework!