Kate Kaye of ClickZ News wrote a great article about MerchantCircle today in which she interviewed one of our customers, Mark Cermak of EcoClean Carpet Care, about his experience to date with MerchantCircle. For me, her article brings to light a couple of key points:
1. Local businesses, like Mark's, are abandoning traditional advertising vehicles like "newspaper classifieds and Yellow Pages" for online advertising.
2. Businesses are integrating MerchantCircle into their other online marketing efforts; in Mark's case, "a separate Web site and . . . . online press releases.
3. Merchants are willing to pay for online advertising, even when the results are so far somewhat unclear, because intuitively they know it works.
4. Certain providers, like Jingle and Quigo, "get it" and are modifying their business models to serve local advertisers in similar fashion to the "big boxes" that were previously their main customers.
For me, this article helps to highlight why we've been able to grow to more than 5,000 merchant customers nationwide in only a few short months. Early adopters, like Mark, understand that Internet advertising delivers better results than the Yellow Pages, they understand that MerchantCircle will increase their online visibility and provide them access to networks previously reserved for the Wal-Mart's of the world, they are willing to make a monetary investment in order to compete with the big guys online, and they are happy enough with us that are telling their friends (most of our growth comes through referrals!)
Because of great merchant advertisers, MerchantCircle has been growing faster than we had ever imagined possible. Thousands of merchants become members of "The Circle" each month, and we are always on the lookout for more: more merchants to serve and more partners to help us serve them.
To date we've provided many services for our local merchants and have lots of valuable ideas for the future. What are your thoughts?