TurnHere Becomes Local Photo/Video Marketplace SmartShoot

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Since the Yellow Pages first appeared in 1883, consumers have been conditioned  to search for local service providers they need. Today’s online review tools and directories like YP.comAngieslist and Yelp have made finding highly rated providers easier, but the businesses still need to be contacted one by one. Meanwhile, new consumer demand apps like Zaarly and Taskrabbit are changing the fulfillment process by having consumers post tasks so providers do the work by customizing quotes.

SmartShoot launched last week as a consumer demand service for sourcing local photographers and videographers. SmartShoot is a pivot from TurnHere, a videography service targeting SMBs with the tagline: “A 60-second custom video about your business shot at your location by a professional filmmaker in less than 90 minutes.” I spoke with Justin McCarthy, CEO of Smartshoot who recently completed a management buyout of Turnhere to launch SmartShoot.

TurnHere, founded in 2005, leveraged the video marketing wave by working with resale partners like Yelp and Citysearch to help SMBs create one-minute video sales pieces. According to McCarthy, TurnHere could boast a compelling match rate, over 80% of inquiries for this short SMB video would result in a vendor solicitation. So with high engagement rates embedded in the business model, why pivot?

“We intuitively knew there was more videography and photography business out there than the one minute SMB video,” said McCarthy. “We tested the ‘Post a Project’ button on TurnHere and discovered that 85% of the 300 projects posted were requesting everything else — weddings, recital footage — except this one minute video. Giving the consumer the option to ask gave us a look at the long tail of consumer video needs; we could see how to expand our brand without getting pigeon-holed into just one offering.”

The pivot to the consumer demand model makes sense for existing companies that have established a credible product offering. Service providers will actively participate when they know the customer is ready to close by virtue of posting their project. But it works both ways. Consumers want to make sure that service providers are bona fide before they post their projects. Posting for a videographer on a horizontal collaborative consumption service like Taskrabbit may yield responses from unemployed hobbyists to professionals, and customers still need to go through vetting process. SmartShoot leverages its vertical expertise working with 16,000 rated video professionals to filter out the flakes.

The bottom line is SmartShoot’s pivot expands its transaction base, and expedites a better buyer and seller match. It’s not a big leap to see Angieslist and other companies with SMB portfolios, including daily deals and media companies, making the same pivot to develop new marketplaces for a variety of verticals.

Patrick Kitano is founding Principal of Brand into Media, a strategy group for social brand management solutions, and administrator of the Breaking News Network, a national hyperlocal network devoted to community service. He is reachable via Twitter @pkitano and email [email protected].

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