Tuesday, September 30, 2008

MerchantCircle Partners with infoUSA: Powering Your Business Information Everywhere

infoUSA logoIn a mobile world, we're becoming less land-locked than ever before. Everything we do is wireless. From wireless remote controls in the 80s, to phones, to video games, and now the internet. People are searching for businesses through cell phones, GPS, and car navigation systems. For us, it's important we make your business found through your MerchantCircle listing. That's why we've partnered with infoUSA to power your listing from the web and beyond across all networks.

Another added benefit, hundreds of our business owners change something on their business listing each day. For almost all of them, there's too many networks and directories to try and manually update one at a time. Our new partnership, not only updates public business information automatically, it makes sure that everyone is aware of your new address, phone number, etc. and that you're found on major search engines and directories across the web.

infoUSA will be able to obtain this constantly updated information, and distribute it across all major search engines, mobile devices and navigation systems.

It's just one more way for us to save you time, so that you can spend it offline taking care of your customers.

Community Relations

P.S. Check out our Press Release on the partnership here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Presidential Debate: Obama vs. McCain

mccain_obamaWith tonight's highly anticipated debate just minutes away from starting - the first of 3 - the nation will eagerly dissect who looks and sounds more presidential: Senators Barack Obama or John McCain? Chances are, the answers will be less than groundbreaking, therefore, demeanor, likability, and eloquence may sway some of the estimated 18% of voters who are undecided.

Be sure to check your email inbox for our Presidential Survey, that will help us fight for the causes that are important to you as local business owners. In the survey, we ask questions, including whether the proposed 700 billion dollar bailout will help you out.

As the nation's largest online network of local business owners, we'll work hard to make sure your voice is heard, not only in your local communities, but also in the hallways of the nation's capital.

Community Relations

P.S. You can also voice your concerns inside our MerchantCircle forums.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Local Business Internet Coupon Deals

According to Scarborough Research, Internet coupons now account for 11 percent of all coupons used in the United States. That's a number that will only continue to grow as businesses and consumers become more web-savvy. We've written many times before about the importance of creating a coupon for your MerchantCircle listing because of the SEO opportunity, not to mention the free cost, compared with print.

In a recent addition of the Columbia Missourian, Greg Wasserman mentions MerchantCircle several times in "Columbia businesses take advantage of Web to offer coupons" writes:

Internet coupons have several advantages compared with traditional coupons. Many online coupon services use templates that business owners can fill out, allowing them to quickly and easily create custom deals. And because the Internet is always open, business owners and consumers always have access.

"It's so much easier when you can fill it out right then and there," Greenway said. "The availability of them being out there 24/7/365, generally for free, is a great form of advertising."

Electronic coupons aren't limited to individual business' Web sites. City governments, chambers of commerce and even Google have jumped into the online coupon game.

Justin Christmas, owner of Carpet Plus, posted his business on MerchantCircle about six months ago. He said he sees one or two people a month using coupons printed from the Internet.

You can see Justin's coupon below and you can visit his MerchantCircle listing here:

Carpet Plus Coupon

Also mentioned in the article:

A Step Janitorial

Greenway Massage Team

Mirra Greenway, of Greenway Massage Team, in the article says, "It seems to be increasing (Internet coupon usage). There's not that much out there yet, but the sooner you get in on something, the more traction you get."

Words well spoken. Don't forget to create your coupon on your MerchantCircle listing using our free tools found here.

Community Relations

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Small Business Marketing Solutions and Affordable Website Design

Today, MerchantCircle and announced a partnership that will bring business owners even more options when it comes to online marketing and adds a new element, professional website design, that makes MerchantCircle a one-stop shop for all your business needs.

"We are excited to be working with MerchantCircle to offer full-service online marketing and website solutions as a complement to their popular online listing services," stated Jeff Stibel, President of "With nearly half of all Internet users using search engines daily, the importance of having your website found within local searches is vital, as it creates awareness and new business opportunities cost-effectively."

"We are committed to helping local merchants take advantage of the Internet to grow their businesses," said Ben Smith, CEO of MerchantCircle. "We believe that's strong offering will round out the suite of high-value, low-cost online services we provide to our 600,000 members."

MerchantCircle already offers a pain-free Instant Website service, that automatically takes your MerchantCircle content and places it in an 'instant website' under a unique domain name that you choose. Several search engine marketing solutions are also available through unique partnerships with Webvisible, Citysearch, Yahoo! and Google.

We're proud to be able to take care of all your online needs, so that you can focus on your business - offline.

Community Relations

Monday, September 22, 2008

Free Business Social Network and Online Directory

As the nation's largest social network for business owners with more than 600,000 merchants, we are constantly flooded with stories from merchants who have used our network to find more customers, communicate with merchants all over the nation, and show up high on search engines. We're honored and happy you're getting so much out of the network. While out in Chicago recently, we had the opportunity to meet with one of these merchants who had been telling us for months that MerchantCircle was helping him find more customers than he could handle. His MerchantCircle listing was coming up #1 for almost every automotive search term you can think of.

Here's the interview we did with Jeff's Automotive in Lake in the Hills, IL.

Community Relations

P.S. You can check out some of our other videos here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

MerchantCircle Press & News Stories

There's been a lot of press recently for our new partnership that brings every business owner in the nation a free business video. Thanks to all who covered the story and we look forward to helping more local business owners find new customers.

Community Relations

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Follow MerchantCircle's Every Move!

MerchantCircle is now on Twitter - a site that keeps you in touch with all your friends by letting them know what you're doing.

Follow us at Right now, some of our team is in Atlanta for the Kelsey Conference. Atlanta is home to some great MerchantCircle members. Check out the city page here and find deals from the top merchants.

Community Relations

MerchantCircle Partners with Spotzer to Give Every Merchant a Free Business Video

SpotzerEvery once in awhile we can get away with giving things away to our merchants. As the largest online network of local business owners in the nation, we're able to form partnerships with some of the best, and most innovative companies that do business with local merchants. Some of our previous partnerships have been formed with Webvisible, Citysearch, and Yahoo!, with the intent to find you more customers via the web. We're proud to say that thousands of merchants are finding success on the web and letting us know about it.

Our newest partnership is with Spotzer, a pioneer of ready-to-air business video solutions. Every business owner in the U.S. now has a free video that matches their business with their business information. If you want to customize the video even more, it's even easier to do - just click here.

Take a look at some of the businesses who have already claimed their free video:

We're excited to say that no one else in the industry is doing what we are for local business owner. We want to make sure that consumers have an engaging and rewarding experience when they find your MerchantCircle listing through the search engines.



Community Relations

Monday, September 15, 2008

MerchantCircle Contacts

We're getting ready for another exciting conference in Atlanta where we look for and develop contacts to make your MerchantCircle experience the best it can be. We have a big announcement coming up tomorrow morning to look forward to - so stay posted!

Previously, at Kelsey Los Angeles we announced a partnership with Citysearch. We think tomorrow's announcement will help you find even more customers!

Community Relations

Thursday, September 11, 2008

You Asked if it Was Fishy, and You Were Right!

First of all, we'd like to extend our apologies to everyone who received a MerchantCircle Alert email this evening. We've been working on a system to help validate and maintain the integrity of our network, and in doing so, had an email server error that sent the message out. As our network has grown to nearly 600,000 merchants, we are constantly looking at ways to make your MerchantCircle network the best it can be.

We're greatful that many of you found the error, and began addressing it yourself in our MerchantCircle forums (found here) and via email. Some of our recent Showcase Merchants (found here) began to tell me something just didn't seem right - and it wasn't. This was the network we envisioned from the beginning when we launched with 5,000 merchants in June of 2006. We wanted every local business owner in the nation to be able to join MerchantCircle for free, get new customers through search engines, and network with each other - solving problems with the help of merchants all across the nation. Our network is what it is because of you. With a small team of 16 employees, it sure does help to have 600,000 voices guiding you along the way.
As a sign of our appreciation, we'd like to extend to you two free areas of coverage with our Local Plus Product - which means your business will increase it's odds of being found during searches outside of your area. Email to redeem your extra areas of coverage.

Community Relations

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Vice Presidential Candidate Joe Biden and Local Small Businesses

Joe Biden
Just like Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin, Senator Joe Biden is also from a small town. Although Wilmington, DE at 72,000 people (475 MerchantCircle members) is considerably larger than Wasilla, AK (7,000 residents and 236 members), viewpoints, besides which candidate they prefer, are the same. With most people telling you Wilmington is split along party lines, it's not an easy task to find someone who isn't supportive of their hometown boy.

"Senator Biden is well-known around here," says James Ellis of Electronicbusters. "The man stands behind his word and gets both parties involved. So even though this area is split 50 - 50 Republican/Democrat, we're all very supportive of him."

One common trait between merchants in Wilmington and Wasilla is that they have heard almost nothing from either campaign about support and initiatives for small business owners. We did some research on a recent post that shows some of the candidate's agendas on taxes, health care, and incentives. Much of the information is news to local business owners.

"There's been a lot of hype recently about John McCain's running mate, and it seems like she's been a good leader, but I don't know about anything they might do for me as a business owner," says Francine Byrd of The Diagnostic Center. "I'd like to see more substance from all the candidates. Small businesses are the mainstay of the economy and we need resources to grow."

Business owners in Wilmington speak about not having a united lobbying effort, unlike the big corporations, as a possible reason they're not mentioned on the campaign trail. Jeff Jankowski has run Silk T's Promotions for the last 15 years and today has 7 employees. He says employee health care costs keep getting worse, currently costing him about 25% of his revenue, and believes the Obama/Biden ticket will help out his business the most.

"I've spoken to Senator Biden before and someone in our group disagreed with one of his policies, he stuck by his guns rather than give a 'politician-type' answer. That really won me over," says Jankowski. "The economy is the worst I've seen it in the last few years. My salesteam is getting pushed right out the door, because people just don't have the money to spend. The country needs a change and I believe Obama and Biden are the ones to do it."

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pitney-Bowes Joins MerchantCircle Marketplace

We're excited to announce Pitney-Bowes joining our Merchant Marketplace, where our more than 575,000 members (and growing!) can look for the best deals to reduce business expenses. Pitney-Bowes is a Fortune 500 company that provides services that can help your business with shipping, documents, packaging and mailing.

"MerchantCircle has been able to sign-on local business owners in hard-to-reach areas across the country," says Pitney-Bowes. "We're excited to be able to directly market to their business owners in targeted categories and help business owners save money by offering them the best deal."

We welcome Pitney-Bowes to our marketplace and look forward to signing on more companies to provide the best deals for the largest online network of local business owners!

If you'd like to join the MerchantCircle marketplace, email at

Kevin L.
Community Relations

Presidential Candidates Obama and McCain on Small Business

While small businesses create roughly two-thirds of all new American jobs, and generate roughly 70 percent of the gross national product, it's amazing that small business issues are rarely mentioned on the campaign trail and in campaign rhetoric. Here at MerchantCircle, we'll fight to make sure you know which candidate has your best interests in mind, so that you can make an informed decision for yourself.

Over the next few days, we'll send out a questionaire to a random sampling of our 575,000 merchant members to gauge your concerns and attempt to find the answers. At the very least, we'll have a clear idea on which candidates small business owners are leaning towards (even in swing states!). After speaking with merchants in Wasilla, AK about Sarah Palin (we'll do the same with the Senator Joe Biden in Scranton, PA and Wilmington, DE), it's obvious that most merchants are not sure how the two parties will affect their business.

Here's a chart from BusinessWeek on some of Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain's agendas on taxes, health care and incentives:

BusinessWeek Chart

Here's another more extensive side-by-side comparison on candidate positions from the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. Click here to see it. It's a really good and easy to look at chart.

Stay tuned to our blog for more posts every day this week.

Kevin L.
Community Relations

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Best Small Businesses in the Nation

Over the last two and half years, we've compiled the largest and most diverse group of local merchant members anywhere on the web. With 575,000 merchants, ranging from local plumbers, landscapers, restraunteurs, hair stylist, coffee shops, you name it, we've been able to assemble the most comprehensive view point on merchants, their needs, concerns and habits.

We've gauged them on a number of issues - surveying real estate agents after the housing bust, compiling statistics on merchant advertising spending and preferences, print and online ad effectiveness, business confidence, etc. - currently, we've just gotten under way interviewing merchants in several battleground states for November's Presidential election. We want to make sure local merchants know who and how which candidates will effect their business. Be sure to read the MerchantCircle blog for new postings.

For now, check out our recently redone 'Merchant Showcase', which we've been compiling over the last couple of months, interviewing our merchants about their advertising experiences with print Yellow Pages, local newspapers, radio, television, Google Adwords, Banner Ads and MerchantCircle. Learn what they did right and what they did wrong. Click here to read more.

Merchant Showcase

Kevin L.
Community Relations

Friday, September 5, 2008

Sarah Palin as Wasilla, AK Mayor and What Small Businesses Think

Sarah PalinIn a town of just over 7,000 residents (double if you count the outlying area), it's hard to find one person who has anything bad to say about their former mayor. As the current Governor of Alaska, and Vice Presidential nominee for the Republican Party ticket, Sarah Palin still lives in tiny Wasilla, AK - driving herself to and from work and still yelling support at her kids' hockey games. Every business owner (and MerchantCircle members) I spoke to in Wasilla has met Gov. Palin and many count her as a friend.

"She's awesome. I know her personally, so you may call me biased, but she's just real down-to-earth," says Denise Rexford, owner of Stampin Moose. "We'd like to keep her as the Governor of Alaska, but she can better the state of the entire country."

As the mayor of Wasilla, Governor Palin developed a reputation for reducing spending and cutting taxes. During her speech at the Republican National Convention, Becky Raterree of Northen Mist Gifts pointed out Governor Palin's 'shout out' to small business owners.

"I like the fact that she mentioned her sister and brother-in-law both own a small business. One thing she could do is make sure that the tax issue is kept in line for small business owners. It would be nice if taxes are cut, but it just needs to stay the same," says Raterree.

Wasilla boasts one of the largest number of MerchantCircle members per capita. Even with 236 members, we had to travel outside of Wasilla to find someone who wouldn't vote for Governor Palin on the Republican ticket.

"I didn't vote for her for Governor, but I think she's done a good job," says Mark Boberick of Polar Breeze Bandanas in Fairbanks, AK. "I won't vote for her on the McCain ticket, because I'm firmly opposed to her abortion stance and I don't think she's prepared or has enough national experience for the job."

Still, whether Gov. Palin is elected or not, Boberick would like to see more information readily available to small business owners when it comes to programs and benefits.

"I had to find out a lot of the information on my own, by attending meetings from non-government agencies," say Boberick. "These programs can really help out struggling small businesses."

No matter what your political affiliation, almost all Alaskans and Wasillians are proud of their Governor, neighbor, and friend.

"I think we need an 'average Joe' in Washington," says Rexford. "As Governor and mayor, she's watched her money, stuck to her guns, and didn't break her promises. If she says she's going to do it, she'll do it. And we'll be behind her every step of the way."

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Finding the Best Business Deals on the Web

While the economy is at a standstill, many consumers and families are finding ways to cut costs at home. Whether it's carpooling to work and school, clipping coupons, or cutting back on that daily Starbucks expense, consumers are becoming smarter when it comes to spending their money. For business owners, it's important that you do the same. We've written plenty of times about getting rid of those Print Yellow page ads, but this time we're talking about cutting costs on the back end.

MerchantCircle has launched Merchant Marketplace, which will allow business owners to find the best deals on services from Fortune 500 companies, including print, credit card, office supplies, and business software. The special offers help out our growing merchant base, which is currently at 575,000 merchants, and compete with deals that normally big box retailers get for buying in bulk. The release is just one more step that will allow local merchants all over the nation to cut expenses and take home more money at the end of the day.

You can find the Merchant Marketplace by logging into your account:

Community Relations