Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Small Business Economic Stimulus Survey

Here are the results of our survey conducted from a pool of 700,000 local business owners spanning all 50 states from 2/19/09 to 2/22/09.

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About MerchantCircle

Founded in 2005, MerchantCircle is the largest social network of local business owners in the nation with over 700,000 members. Business owners can utilize a number of free tools to build out their listing page, including: blog, coupon, picture, newsletter, review, and recommendation tools. MerchantCircle is funded by Rustic Canyon Partners, Disney’s Steamboat Ventures, Scale Venture Partners, and IAC.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Small Business Owners Saving Money By Leaving Print Advertising

Thom Millage
MerchantCircle member Thom Millage of All Spotless Carpets was featured today on primetime news in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. For WRAL's "Here to Help" segment, Thom spoke of saving over $10,000 a year by leaving print advertising and the benefits he's seen from blogging and utilizing online networks, such as MerchantCircle!

Check out the video by clicking on WRAL's site here.

Here's a text excerpt of the video story:

More and more small businesses are saving marketing dollars by turning to the Internet to find customers. They use blogs and Web sites as a cheaper alternative to expensive listings in the phone book or advertisements in the newspaper or on television.

Thom and Joni Millage, the husband-wife team behind Garner's All Spotless Carpets, cut their print advertising and turned to, a site that offers tools to help small businesses build a Web brand and be found by online searches.

The couple began All Spotless Carpets in 2002.

"We started out the traditional way, with the Yellow Pages," Thom Millage said.

Over the years, he estimates, he spent more than $10,000 for placement in the yellow pages.........

You can read the entire version here, but I recommend watching the story!

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

CE Pro Interviews MC Member Image Audio

CE Pro, a site for custom electronics installers, interviewed Nick Vecchioli of Image Audio & Video in Canandaigua, NY. Here is an excerpt of the article:

Simply by registering, Vecchioli entered into the MerchantCircle network.

There, he found he had access not only to the profiles of potential business partners, but also to e-mail newsletter and e-mail coupon templates -- for free. (Premium advertising and marketing solutions are available for a fee.)

With his free account, Vecchioli has access to e-mail marketing templates. MerchantCircle also gives him access to the profiles of potential business partners.

"They offer an e-mail thing, where I can create coupons that I can e-mail to customers," he says.

"It's effective. The last time I sent a coupon out, I got three e-mails. They're not big projects, but we do get a response."

Read the full article here.

I spoke to Nick, who says that he recently decided to get rid of his Yellow Pages ad as well. He says the cost for a print and online listing would have tied him in for one year at nearly $160 a month. After seven years of business, he feels comfortable with the fact of dropping his expensive Yellow Pages ad. We think he'll be okay too.

Check out his listing below and by clicking here.


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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How Does the Economic Stimulus Bill Help Small Businesses?

With the passage of the $787 billion economic stimulus bill, everyone wants to know how and what they have coming to them. As many politicians struggled to read the more than 1,000 page document, journalists are having just as hard a time filtering through the most important measures the bill enacts. In the form of small business benefits, there's an argument on both sides on whether the bill does enough.

For starters, you can deduct business expenses up to $250,000 - up from $128,000. Small businesses, which the bill classifies as firms making $15 million or less in gross revenue, will also benefit from a net operating loss carry-back provision. This will allow you to use existing losses to offset taxes paid on profits in the previous five years.

One of the major issues the first stimulus bill was hoping to remedy - which was largely seen as a bank bailout - was to get banks to start loaning money to small businesses again. Right now, this stimulus bill authorizes the Small Business Administration to reduce or eliminate fees for banks participating it its new loan-guarantee programs, which will insure banks against default by small business borrowers.

Small business owners can get some immediate relief from the SBA in the form of loans up to $35,000 - which can be used to pay off up to six months of existing loans. Borrowers must repay the loan within five years and will also not have to make any payments for the first year. The allocated money by Congress is limited though; When the $630 million dollars begins to run out, borrowers will have priority over lenders, and small bank lenders will have priority over the larger ones.

While the SBA "applauds" the Stimulus Bill for the help it will give towards "unlock(ing) credit markets and begin economic recovery for the nation's small business sector," the American Small Business League says the bill offers "no specific provisions to direct even one dollar to those funds to America's 26 million small businesses.

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P.S. Be sure to participate in our forthcoming survey on whether you approve of certain elements of the stimulus bill. Thanks.

Friday, February 13, 2009

How Can You Get More Business for Free?

As the free marketing options on the web continue to explode, it's important to understand new websites while they're still in an upward swing. The world wide web tends to reward those who are early adopters. Even as the largest social network for local business owners, we're still growing at a phenomenal rate, closing in on 700,000 merchants across the country! If you haven't already done so, claim your business listing - it's free!

Recently, Lawrence Coburn of, mentioned us in his article for the Huffington Post, titled: "Five Tips for Using the Social Web for Free Marketing." It's an excellent article highlighting ways to use the web to market your business for free. Coburn mentions us as well - thanks. Here's an excerpt:

If your business does not have a website, there are a number of services you can use as a proxy for your own site. For local businesses, Merchant Circle is a good place to start.
Read the entire article here for some solid tips.

Community Relations

Thursday, February 12, 2009

MerchantCircle Chairman Interview on

Our Chairman and Co-Founder Ben T. Smith, IV recently interviewed with John Mitre of about MerchantCircle. The story is featured in the section, "Companies To Watch."

Ben speaks about the our current merchants, the interaction between merchants and consumers, and some of our current numbers.

Click here to listen to the 4:30 minute interview.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Small Businesses Beginning to Understand the Importance of Blogs

We released statistics today on our merchants joining and creating blogs at a higher rate than ever before. In speaking with our members, local business owners are starting to understand and realize the importance of business blogs as a lever to attract more customers.

Here is an excerpt of the release:

The study shows 15,676 blogs written by merchants on the network in January 2009 – a 190% increase from the same time a year ago. The total number of blogs posted follows 12,872 written in December 2008, and 9,215 written in November of 2008. There were 5,383 blogs written in January 2008 and 2,623 written in January of 2007.

Click here to read the entire release. Below is a chart of the growing content being created by our members:

Blog Numbers
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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Funniest Business Picture Ever!

I am a big fan of humor and of people who are willing to make themselves look silly for the happiness of others. So when I came across this picture of a plumber in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, I had to find out if this was a real picture or not. It is. Take a look at the truck for AIM Electrical & Plumbing Services.

Plumber with a Sense of Humor
I don't know about you, but if I were to hire him, seeing that truck would instantly put me at ease. Maybe humor is worth thinking about in your future marketing with customers....

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