Tuesday Push – MyTown.ie
“MyTown provides local information about each Irish town, such as weather forecast, news, events, attractions, maps, and business listings (including accommodation and entertainment).”
I usually take a slightly different approach to the Tuesday Push and try to highlight things about the web app or service that works, and things that don’t. This week is no different. Hopefully the guys behind MyTown will find this helpful and constructive feedback. That’s certainly my intention.
The Strategy – The Good Parts
First off, the strategy. Lets look at what’s good about the approach of MyTown.
It’s operating in a narrow channel.
Having a niche is a great. It means you can focus on delivering exactly what that small set of people want, usually resulting in a very focused and specific tool. But sometimes the niche is a little small, reducing the overall potential of the business. To counter this, MyTown are providing hundreds of narrow channels, each one focused on a small community. This has the potential of encouraging people who live locally to gain a voice online.
They’re asking for money.
Straight off these guys are setup to take payments online. Too many web services launch with a ‘wait and see’ approach. Hoping that they’ll be able to figure out a business model at some stage down the line. This is unsustainable without funding. So a better way is to start charging users from the get go. MyTown have taken this approach. Fair play.
It’s a manageable amount of content.
Whether it’s user generated, imported, scraped, or hand written there’s a manageable amount of content on the site. Each town has a reasonable amount of sections and sub sections to fill data into them. But with little micro communities constantly submitting content, this should ensure that the content grows steadily with the user base.
It’s a franchisable scalable business.
If it works in Ireland it can work anywhere. A lot of entrepreneurs use their home town as a testing bed for something with a potentially wider appeal. If MyTown becomes a successful viable business, then there’s no reasopn why it wouldn’t work in the UK or anywhere else.
It’s up and running.
It’s easy to criticise from the sidelines. To point out other people’s mistakes and feel smug when it doesn’t go right. But you’ll never get anywhere with that attitude. It’s dispicable. These guys from MyTown have put their heart on their sleeve and launched something. Now that they’re out there they can tweak, improve, test, tweak, and improve again. All under the eyes (and with the input) of their users. This is the only way to get things done. By actually doing it.
The Strategy – The Not So Good Parts
Despite all this positivity, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Here’s a few of my thoughts on their strategy and how it might be improved.
Who is this website for?
I can’t figure out if this website is for locals living in these towns or for tourists visiting it. I think this is a crucial decision as I don’t think you can provide a great service for both of these people in the one place. They’ve got totally different needs. For example, if I’m a local I don’t need a Google Map showing me where in Ireland I live. And if I’m a tourist, I don’t need to know what cars are for sale in the area.
Having a defined target market is absolutely critical, and I’m not sure who that is here.
There’s huge competition in this space.
This is a pretty cluttered market at the moment. Listings websites are a dime a dozen. There’s YourLocal.ie, Entertainment.ie, RateMyArea.com, IGOpeople.com, Boards.ie, MyHome.ie for property and AutoTrader.ie for cars. All of these sites command huge audiences and focus on one specific niche. MyTown is trying to cover all of this under one roof. Very risky.
Lots of features but not enough data.
MyTown offers a large variety of sections and listings for each town, yet a lot of them have very little content. For instance, the gallery sections in may of the towns I looked at were completely empty. And the same with the events calendar, not a lot going on.
I would almost cut some of these features and focus on nailing just a couple of them first. Doing it better than anyone else. Once you get a small part of it right, grow it out and slowly reintroduce some of these additional features. It’s all about having a critical mass of users, built up slowly over time.
What’s compelling me to stay?
MyTown seem to be doing a lot of things reasonably well, but nothing stands out that would keep me here and get me coming back. There’s no compelling data, local community or a killer feature enticing me to revisit the site.
There’s no clear call to action on the homepage either. I don’t know what to do next.
To encourage people to visit, and then to keep coming back I think there needs to be at least one very compelling reason. Whether that’s the sum of all the information about my town or something else entirely, it needs to be dressed up and presented in a way that gives a sense of community. Because the best thing MyTown has got going for them is the narrow channel of each town.
I’d focus on that, and add on the rest later.