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Stocks T / The Knot, Inc.


Subject:  Re: Another approach Date:  6/9/2005  1:17 PM
Author:  kaisatsu Number:  87 of 127

As an avid Knot member during the planning of my 2003 wedding, I think I can offer a little information to address some of this.

The average lifespan of a Knot member is probably around 1-1.5 years, depending on the length of the engagement and how involved one becomes in planning the wedding. Amongst those members who frequent the message boards, a lot of members stay on 3-6 months after the wedding, to share advice, and to just continue being around the wedding-planning scene. In fact, a figure I'd really like to see to better estimate the lifespan of a site member is the percentage of members who have set up screen names to access the message board. I had a membership to the Knot for months and rarely visited (aside from the Gown Search feauture) before I realized that its message boards hold the biggest wealth of information. Sometimes the rest of the site seems a little watered down without a lot of pictures (what most brides are after for inspiration), but the message boards are active 24 hours a day with fellow brides ready to share ideas, opinions, and knowledge. Those are the most likely candidates to move on to form a lasting membership on the Nest. I see the Nest's biggest draw as providing a forum to continue those relationships forged on the Knot and to serve as an open all-women (or mostly women) discussion community.

Obviously the biggest way the Knot will continue making money is through advertising. While it's a nice idea to think that they'll become the trusted source for wedding vendors, that probably won't happen any time soon. Part of the site's policy gives them permission to remove any posts they wish from the message boards, and there are dozens of documented and widely known cases where this has happened. A bride posts a message detailing how a vendor performed badly either during planning of worse, at the wedding. Often these posts are well-formed warnings with all the dealings between the bride and vendor clearly spelled out and are posted as a warning to other brides who may be considering that particular vendor. Unfortunately, some vendors check the local boards for posts concerning them, and if they are a paying advertiser on the Knot, they can request that the administrators remove the negative post entirely. By the time the post is removed, it may have spawned a 20-post discussion, which is not easily forgotten by the brides involved. Word-of-mouth spreads these stories quickly, and most brides learn quickly that the Knot is not always to be trusted. It would be very difficulty for the company to change its image.

As for, I'm sure home improvement is one of the areas that's being developed at the Nest. I've spent very little time looking through the Nest content, but I know there's a message board dedicated to home improvement, purchasing, and decorating. They're catering to a community of obsessive planners, and for people like that (myself included), there will always be some kind of project in the works!

One of the issues that has concerned me most is the technical stability of the site itself. Rather than the content, I would guess that the bulk of their members spend most of their time with the message boards and the online planning tools. However, there have been some significant technical oversights in these areas in the past. I believe the site performance is improving, but there are still far too many times when it is inaccessible due to problems/maintenance. For what is now primarily an online company, I feel that's a significant problem.

As for the Knot's good points, it's certainly the easiest way for wedding vendors to access a huge potential customer base, and it's widely herolded as the online destination for wedding planning. It may be a specific market, but they certainly have it cornered!

The Knot has made some nice improvements over the past few years, so I plan to hold it for a while and see what happens.
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