Monday, June 5, 2006

MerchantCircle Official Launch

Today, we officially launched MerchantCircle, letting the world know we've found a path to an answer to the question that has stumped many a local advertising expert ... How do you connect the 10 million local businesses in the U.S. with the $97 billion local advertising market? We believe we have a better answer than the current approaches.

Over the past few months, with the help of our members, we've been refining our service. The response has been outstanding. We are blowing past our goal to have 5,000 local businesses joined when we started, and they're actively building their business networks by inviting other businesses in their communities to join, too. Our members are also advertising and expressing themselves online, using a wide range of tools we offer, including blogging, online coupons and keyword advertising. They are also reaching out to their favorite consumers to get them involved.

Take a look for yourself at several local businesses with fabulous listings on MerchantCircle.

Several bloggers and reporters have already featured MerchantCircle this morning:

  • Rafe Needleman, CNet, "MerchantCircle: World's Easiest Small Business Web Sites", "At its free service level, MerchantCircle is absolutely worth a try for any small business. But the free product is just a tease. For $29.95 a month, MerchantCircle will put one paid ad a month on engines like Google and Yahoo."

  • Mike Bazeley, SiliconBeat, "Going Local with MerchantCircle", "The 'circle' in the company's name comes from the idea that merchants will create networks of affiliated businesses by adding their names to their profile pages and swapping ads with each other."

  • Adotas - Where Interactive Advertising Begins, "MerchantCircle Connects Local Advertisers to Local Businesses", "It's [MerchantCircle] hit the 5,000 merchant mark, a tally that's been steadily doubling every 4-6 weeks, and contains more than 14 million listings and aggregates more than 10 million RSS feeds full of local business and marketing information."

We're excited to keep bringing our members more features to help them tap into qualified traffic on the Local Internet. This is just a start! We have a long way to go over the next year to bring even a small part of our vision online. But we do everything in small steps, so you will see new stuff even later this week and a big push for new capabilities by the end of the month.

In the end it is all about what local merchants are doing on our site. Check out PJ Fitness Corp in Altamonte Springs, Florida and Humbolt County Lines Magazine in Eureka, California and see how they are using MerchantCircle to communicate with their local markets.

This is what inspires us. One thing Mary Lou Song, who advises us and helped drive listening to the community at eBay as employee #2 or something has helped us really think about is this - in the end the merchants know what they need. So, if you have ideas, let us know. You never know. We might have some of them live by the end of the week. And, by the way, I'm still looking forward to giving out the beer or Pepsi to someone who tries on the blogs and does not like it.


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