– the new website where the firms come to you…


Of course you have. And isn’t it frustrating that as a client, you’re the one going through all the trouble of calling someone to offer them your money? But what if you could simply ‘shout’ to let businesses know what you were looking for – and then companies who understood (and cared) about your requirements came knocking on your door? Well, now you can do exactly that. A global site or rather ‘intention engine’ called is making it possible for suppliers who are listening to respond to buyers’ requests in the UAE and beyond. Neil Harris, founder of explained to 7DAYS that he could see the potential of his site pretty clearly – even if the inspiration did come while he was looking for an optician. “I wanted an optician’s appointment and simply didn’t have the time or energy to wade through 101 opticians’ websites, so I dreamed up the idea of “broadcasting my request” to all of them and waiting for them to reply, eager to have my business,” he said. It’s a practice which has come to be known as ‘intentcasting’ – and in theory it should save you time and money. “I wanted to be able to submit a request – or a ‘shout’ – for potential suppliers to react to while I was busy doing other things. Then, some time later, I could go back to that request and see how it was getting on,” Harris explained. So far, he said, around 80 per cent of requests worldwide get positive responses – and usually within the hour. Some have asked all golf clubs in their area for membership prices and selected a new club based how responsive and helpful it was during the process. Another user sent out a successful ‘shout’ for a surprise party. Such requests, though small on their own, are part of a growing trend which has been dubbed ‘the intention economy’ – and Harris believes it will have big consequences for current marketing and advertising models. Today’s economy is the ‘attention economy’, in that companies advertise to get buyers’ attention, he explains. But with the explosion of personal technology and connectivity, the ‘intention economy’ is beginning and it allows buyers to effectively state their needs to companies. In future, companies can get ahead by listening to customers and responding with products and services that meet their needs. According to Harris, the first companies to learn how to sell their wares in this new era will take a huge step ahead of their rivals. “I’ve noticed that people buy from the companies that (a) reply quickly and (b) build rapport. By building rapport, I mean that they pay attention to the buyer and address all aspects of the buyer’s request.” Harris added: “For example, if a company replies with some kind words, provides their pricing and availability, and any addresses any other relevant points, then the buyer usually commits. However, if a company replies with ‘look at our website’ or ‘read this standard document’ then the buyer doesn’t feel special and they won’t buy.” So, even in this bold new world, it’s good to know service still counts for something.