Saturday, December 27, 2008

MerchantCircle Members Taking Up the Cause

We came across this article by one of our merchants, Upon Request Assistants, on eHow titled: How to Attract Customers Using MerchantCircle For Free. It's a good, easy-to-read how-to guide and important for the millions of merchants who are still lacking a web presence.

We're honored that so many of our merchants have taken it upon themselves to not only help other merchants in our forums, but also across other networks and blogs. Check out some of what they're saying:
Community Relations

Friday, December 19, 2008

Who is the New Head of the SBA?

President-elect Obama today announced Karen Gordon Mills as the new head of the Small Business Administration (SBA). Mills has a background as an investor and venture capitalist.

"A venture capitalist who invests in small businesses, Karen understands the challenges faced by both small businesses' owners and the workers they employ," says President-elect Obama. "With a background in the private sector and experience helping Maine's governor promote growth across the state, I am confident that Karen will lead an SBA that will not only help small business owners realize their dreams, but help our nation rebuild our economy."

You can find out more about Mills here and here. Here are some other posts on MerchantCircle about the SBA.

Community Relations

Thursday, December 11, 2008

MerchantCircle Company Timeline and History on Dipity

We recently put MerchantCircle's history, or timeline, on Dipity. Check it out below. We plan on adding some more pictures and videos, and we have plenty more historic events in store for our 655,000 merchants. Expect some big things for the beginning of next year!

Happy Holidays!
Community Relations

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I'm Unemployed - What Can I Do?

With 6.7 percent now unemployed in the United States - or 10.3 million people - Americans are distressed to say the least. President-elect Obama has cautioned that there will be no quick or easy fixes to this crisis. As more and more people join the ranks of the unemployed, more and more people will be competing for the fewer jobs that make themselves available. While there is much to be discouraged about, there is still a lot of opportunities to be had.

There are ways to stay afloat, even if you haven't had luck getting a job and your unemployment benefits are running out. Google recently announced that their Local Business Referral Representative (LBR) program is shutting down at the end of the year. Essentially, the program was meant for LBRs to collect information from businesses for Google Maps, including hours of operation and store pictures. The LBRs would also introduce the business owners to Google Maps and Adwords.

Greg Sterling writes in his blog, that he believes Google didn't fully commit to the program and that 'Adwords itself, is not a self-service product that can be readily adopted by the mass of SMBs.' We agree with Greg, but we also believe that there was just not enough incentive for people that would've made the program lucrative enough for them.

Back in October, we introduced the MerchantCircle Marketing Advisor Program. The benefits for our advisors are a monthly reoccurring revenue from the members they sign-on to our paid products. With over 10,000 paid products sold to our merchants since December 2007, our merchant base of 655,000 is only at the early stages of being introduced to affordable, effective online advertising solutions. Even in the midst of a recession, we've argued before that marketing is one of the last things a consumer-oriented business should cut. Instead, expensive, ineffective advertising like the Yellow Pages should be the first to go.

Month over month, we've seen one of the lowest churn rates in the business. We've actually seen less business owners stop online advertisements since the economy was officially declared "in a recession." The fact of the matter is, we have over 700 Marketing Advisors who are helping local business owners find more customers online. In this economic time, this means a lot to us, and to the business owners, and quite possibly to you.

To find out how you can be a MerchantCircle Marketing Advisor - click here.

Community Relations

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What Constitutes a Recession and How to Survive It

After the nonprofit National Bureau of Economic Research officially declared the recession began in December of 2007, it's worth noting that there's no 'official' definition of a recession. A short definition, generally accepted, would be the U.S gross domestic product, a measure of the total output of the U.S. economy, declining for two consecutive calendar quarters - or six months.

The NBER sees it a little bit differently, but mostly factors in the gross domestic income as well. The good news here, if any, is that we've survived the recession for almost a year now. With estimates that things are only going to get worse before they get better, it's important to figure out ways to, not only survive, but take advantage of the recession.

In this US News & World Report article:

Live below your means. Some people are shopping for this year's holiday gifts while still paying off their 2007 purchases, says Gail Cunningham of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Now's the time to re-evaluate those habits, she says, before piling on even more debt. You can make sure you pay as little as possible for gifts by using online comparison websites. Another option is taking advantage of layaway programs at retailers that let you pay off purchases before you bring them home. That way, you avoid paying high interest rates to credit card companies.

Bolster that emergency cushion. Even in flush times, financial advisers say consumers should have about six months' worth of expenses in their bank account to guard against job loss or other emergencies. Now, with the unemployment rate headed toward 7 percent, it's more important than ever.

Toughen up your portfolio. It doesn't matter how smart your investing strategy is if you won't stick with it. And the roller-coaster stock market is sure making that tough to do. Jittery investors might want to think about stashing somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of their portfolio in less risky investments, such as bond funds, treasury bills, or money market funds. But don't overdo it. Investors who are decades away from retirement should keep the bulk of their portfolios in stocks. If you want to dial down your risk, look to stock funds that have been bucking the bear, such as Apex Mid Cap Growth and Reynolds Blue Chip Growth. Also, exchange-traded funds, which look like mutual funds but trade like stocks, give you more diversified exposure to a particular sector or industry than betting on individual issues.
You can click here to read the rest of the article. They also had a great article on the Top 15 Small Businesses to Start. Some of them include:
  • Higher Education Services
  • Outsourcing Manager
  • Financial Advisor

Here at MerchantCircle, we've seen every form of entrepreneur possible through our 650,000 members. While many of you are constantly looking for new entrepreneurial opportunities, others are just growing out your core business and succeeding with lower costs of online advertisements with MerchantCircle. The first thing you must do is drop the high-risk, high-cost proposition of Yellow Pages advertising, and even if you don't pay for any online ads through MerchantCircle, you still should claim your free listing on our network and edit your profile. Read what many of our free members are saying here.

Community Relations