Imagine a Farmer's Market, buzzing and bustling, not with traders of spices or silks, but with pioneers, ideas, and a future where machines think and learn. Welcome to OpenAI's AI marketplace, coming soon to a smartphone near you. When my friend and brother from another mother, Phil Buckley, emailed me about a "prompt marketplace," I wondered why digital marketers like moi don't use the Farmer's Market model more often.
Who consistently makes money from your local farmer's market? I agree if you voted for whoever is charging rent on those stalls. Your farmer's market host pays insurance and maintenance and mediates egos, conflicts, and many other things, but the highest costs live on the farm. The land, seed, irrigation, taxes, transportation, marketing, and additional fees all get paid before you drizzle honey in your tea or tomato on your BLT.
The core of it all: Value. When your users—your tribe—sell anything and everything from the funky gifts of the first platform I co-created (Found Object) to an AI chatbot to make internal search work, you are paving the way for authentic shared interactions. I'm spending the weekend sketchy the minimal viable product for an AI model to use generative AI to fix internal search because that problem has bugged me for twenty years.
Each piece of user-generated content (UGC) shared on your Farmer's Market marketplace is more than just text—it’s SEO dynamite. Farmer's Markets are symphonies of real voices, drawing kindred spirits to craft an ever-evolving and always "fresh" tapestry. Google's spiders love to crawl around always fresh shared symphonies.
Your content creation budget scales down drastically when your community is the medium. Marketing automation with AI tools such as SalesForce, Feedly, and Zapier means curation costs pennies to content creation dollars. Your writers and storytellers, your "farmers," provide the warps and wefts your curation loom weaves into a narrative that a brand on its own couldn't produce. The digital farmer's market becomes a bustling metropolis of ideas, mirroring the vibrancy and chaos of social media platforms but with a dance around a more holistic maypole.
Examples of digital farmer's markets include:
The kind of the $5 gig, Fiverr has grown into a behemoth. Name a freelance service, and you'll find it on Fiverr. Fiverr empowers individuals to become entrepreneurs leaving the gig site in favor of a marketplace for dreams and aspirations. The brand is synonymous with freelance empowerment.
From a simple idea of sharing skills, Skillshare metamorphosed into an educational powerhouse. By allowing anyone with expertise to teach, they tapped into the reservoir of global knowledge. Skillshare isn't just about courses; it's a lifelong learning adventure. One day I will share hard-won lessons learned from surviving the Big C for seventeen years. I used to think about writing a book, but now readers feel over, but sharing classes on Skillshare or Patreon might help save someone you love life.
Once a humble niche site for crafts, the Amazon for artisans Etsy's transformation into a global marketplace for unique and creative goods is legendary. Etsy is something we can all learn or remember - it is about selling stories, passion projects, and dreams. By letting artisans share their stories, Etsy extended its brand beyond a sales platform, becoming synonymous with independent craftsmanship.
Kickstarter understood a lesson I learned at Found Objects, where everyone thought they had a great gift idea. Kickstarter set out to fund dreams by engaging the little guy, the fan, and those who want to help others achieve their dreams! Kickstarter transcended its initial brand identity by becoming the platform where ideas met believers. It became a storybook where every page echoed innovations, hope, and community spirit. It wasn't just about funds; it was about faith.
Do you like to go to the Farmer's Market? What digital farmer's markets do you like? Why don't we think of the Farmer's Market Model when developing digital marketing channels?
e: martin (at) wte.net
li: Martin Wescott Smith (on LinkedIn)