A Flickr Founder's New Website
Having trouble making decisions? Hunch, a new website, will tell you what to do. Caterina Fake, who also co-founded the photo-sharing site Flickr, in 2004, designed Hunch to help users make decisions by answering a series of 10 or fewer questions. The variety of subjects Hunch tackles is diverse. Examples include "Where should I go to college?," "Should I break up with my boyfriend?," and "What kind of cheese should I buy?" Hunch started with 500 topics, but visitors have added their own, bringing the total to around 4,000. Fake's goal is to create an engaging product that's also useful. She plans to generate revenue through sponsored links, the way About.com does. So far, the company hasn't kicked off a formal marketing campaign, but it has benefited from some positive buzz in the blogosphere. How else can Hunch get the word out? We asked five entrepreneurs to weigh in.
PITCH NO. 1: Create personality profiles
John Vechey, co-founder of PopCap Games, a video game publisher in Seattle
"Hunch should keep track of users' answers and use that information to create mini personality profiles, sort of like Myers-Briggs. The more questions users answered, the more refined their profiles would be. This would keep people coming back to the site. And with all of that data, Hunch could easily add contextual advertising that comes across as fun and highly appropriate for each person."
PITCH NO. 2: Use celebrities
Anne-Marie Faiola, founder and CEO of Bramble Berry, a Bellingham, Washington, company that sells soapmaking supplies
"I would harness the power of celebrities. Hunch could have a celebrity question of the week. When a celebrity asks a question, the Hunch team can blog or Twitter the answer. That would drive more traffic to the site, which would generate more clicks on the sponsored links. I could also see turning this concept into a party game."
PITCH NO. 3: Develop partnerships
Genevieve Thiers, founder and CEO of Sittercity, a Chicago-based online community that connects parents with caregivers
"Hunch should partner with other websites. It could tailor the questions to fit what those other companies do.
For example, maybe Hunch could offer relationship advice on a site like Match.com or travel answers on a site like Orbitz.com."
PITCH NO. 4: Focus on social integration
Gay Gaddis, founder and CEO of T3, an Austin marketing firm that specializes in digital campaigns
"Advertising a product like Hunch is hard, because it's difficult to categorize. People need to hear about it by word of mouth. Every time a user gets an answer to a question on Hunch, there should be an option to share the result on Twitter or Facebook. If people see that their friends are using the site, they will likely be intrigued to try it."
PITCH NO. 5: Prove it works
Cal McAllister, co-founder and creative director of Wexley School for Girls, a Seattle-based advertising agency
"Hunch could be perceived as a fortunetelling tool instead of as a functional tool, so I think the company needs to design a campaign proving it works. Maybe script a show online in which people need to take the challenge, and for one day they make all of their decisions using Hunch -- and actually act on them. You could also do a big event where it's demo'ed live -- maybe on the JumboTron at a baseball game -- and the person asking the question needs to act on the Hunch."
Feedback on the Feedback: The Hunch team likes the ideas about creating personality profiles, partnering with other sites, and integrating with social networks. "We already have Facebook and Twitter accounts, and we're in the process of giving users the option to share their responses," Fake says. But promoting Hunch through big events or celebrity endorsements is not something she intends to do. "It doesn't make sense to do something on a JumboTron, because we are online, and people find out about websites through other sites," she says. "We also don't feel like we need famous names to get the word out."
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