Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Giving a Voice to 500,000 Merchants

Ann Hauer Reflexology - Ann Hauer
A little more than a week after our 2 Year Anniversary, it's an honor for me to announce the passing of 500,000 merchants. While we've been the largest online network of local business owners for some time, it means more to us at MerchantCircle that our business owners across America are finding new customers and able to connect with merchants everywhere.
Mission Grove Realty - Christopher Walker
In June 2006, when we launched, we were committed to listening to what our merchants wanted and needed in an online business network to find new customers. Two years later? Absolutely nothing has changed. We listen to our merchants, just like merchants listen and help out each other in our MerchantCircle Forum. We've continued to add new functionality and features that makes merchant life easier.

While we've often spoken out about 'giving a voice' to local merchants on the web to 'fight back' against big box retailers, we should also make note that that 'voice' is now 500,000 strong and growing. Another common theme throughout the last two years has been that of the Yellow Pages and their long, fixed-term contracts, and expensive costs. I would have to say after these two posts (here and here), many merchants agree. No other blog posts drew as much discussion on our comment board than posts about the relevance of Yellow Pages.
Baking Bread LLC - Jennifer Moore
One of the themes we encountered in our ongoing campaign of interviewing merchants in all 50 states, is that the Yellow Pages were inneffective and expensive. Don't get me wrong, we have some merchants who are still finding customers through print, but the majority are fed up. Our discussions with merchants on the phone and through surveys led us to come up with a portfolio of various online advertising products that fits every merchant's needs. As an early indicator, just six months after launch, we went from 500 paying merchants in late December to 5,000 by June.
Grande Ronde Fitness Club - Cory Sudbrock
You can read what our merchants in every state are saying by clicking here. It's been an exciting two years, filled with lots of announcements, and you can count on many more to come. The best part of those announcements? Our merchants and their 'voice' will be a part of them every step of the way.

Ben Smith
Chairman and Co-Founder, MerchantCircle

P.S. The pictures above are who we're about.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Creative Business Names

Some merchants can be so creative when naming their business. A friend sent me this list of The 50 Best Pun Stores and it's a pretty funny list. Here are some of my favorites:

The Dirty Hoe

Thai Tanic

Sofa So Good

Florist Gump

Get Plastered

Curl Up & Dye

Community Relations

Friday, June 6, 2008

MerchantCircle's 2 Year Anniversary

Today is MerchantCircle's 2 Year Anniversary. We celebrated the occasion with some BBQ, pinatas, water balloons, and most importantly, family.

We wish you all the best in your future business endeavors and may God bless you and your family! Thank you for your support.

Pinata Destroyed

Darth Mall

Irit Hula

Community Relations

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

How the Groundswell Can Help Your Business

I had a chance to meet Charlene Li yesterday at the Under the Radar Conference at the Microsoft Campus in Mountain View, CA. Charlene is a Principal Analyst at Forrester Research and we've previously communicated over phone and emails.

I've been reading her book, co-authored by Josh Bernoff, called Groundswell. In their own words, Groundswell is a book 'with practical, data-based strategies for companies that want to harness the power of social technologies like blogs, social networks, and YouTube. Featuring 25 full case studies, a complete road map for social strategy, and data from around the world.'

The book has a lot of relevant content for local business owners that, first of all, explain all these web terms, like Tagging, RSS, and Widgets, and how they can help your business. Many of the case studies come from big multi-national companies, but can and should be applied in your local markets. In Chapter 6, Talking with the Groundswell, Charlene and Josh profile Blendtec, a company that created a website called, spent $50 on five videos that became hits on YouTube and increased Blendtec's sale of blenders by 20%. The 'will it blend' website and videos drove traffic back to Blendtec's home website. Look below for the video:

The key is to think outside of the box! Every case study they site, try and relate it to your business and whether it could work. I've done that with MerchantCircle and found two scenarios I'd like to try out, one, using the example of BMW's Mini Cooper. Stay tuned!!!

Community Relations