The cheesier the New York Times headline ("Wanted"? Who thinks up this stuff?), the more doomed the company. The Times covers three startups that help users submit classified ads to "all the major listings services," for free or for a small fee, making money from showing ads to users.

Think about the business plan for a second. For these companies to succeed, a good number of customers have to:

  • Be aware of classifieds sites other than Craigslist or the one dominant site in their city
  • Care about posting to more than one site
  • Be aware of the posting business
  • Figure out a new and strange form
  • To use the result on Craigslist, go and paste code into the site anyway

Not the recipe for success with a mass-customer business. Thankfully, according to one quoted exec from posting company Postlets, power-sellers like car dealers and real estate services are using the sites. The folks at Postlets say they never saw that coming and were relying on small customers. Now they have a user base — one that's not particularly attractive to ad sellers, but one that Postlets and its competitors can safely charge fees. Talk about being saved from your own failed business plan.

Wanted: A Way to Profit by Simplifying Web Classifieds [NY Times]