Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Finding Local Coupons in Your City on Twitter

If you haven't already built coupons for your MerchantCircle listing, or haven't done it lately, now is the time! MerchantCircle releases the first-ever local city coupon feed via Twitter. Coupons that you feed will now automatically be fed to a city-specific Twitter page - making it easy for customers in your area to track real-time deals.

Using our tools to build coupons is easy and free. It takes less than a minute to build a coupon - do it now by clicking here. As a consumer, you can currently track your deals in these cities:

Local MerchantCircle coupons are available today at: @MCircleNY, MCircleLA, MCircleChicago, MCirclePhilly, MCircleDallas, MCircleSF, MCircleOakland, MCircleSanJose, MCircleBoston, MCircleAtlanta, MCircleDC, MCircleHouston, MCircleDetroit, MCirclePhoenix, MCircleTampa, MCMinneapolis, MCircleMiami, MCircleDenver, MCircleOrlando, MCSacramento, MCircleStLouis, MCirclePortland, MCCharlotte, MCIndianapolis, amongst other cities.


Clicking on the link from the city Twitter page will take consumers to your coupons listed on MerchantCircle. From there, they can print the coupon or save it to their Neighbors Profile (similar to clipping it and putting it on their refridgerator for later use). Consumers can create their Neighbors Profile here.
Amazing Faces

MerchantCircle members currently create more than 50,000 coupons and deals a month and can easily be found by searching under "#coupon" or "#coupons" on Twitter.

Real-time coupons are here! Start getting new customer today!

Community Relations

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Small Business Branding Online

Guest Blogger Series Part 3: Dane Carlson's Business Opportunities Weblog is the premier blog of ideas and opportunities for small business entrepreneurs and is one of the most widely read business blogs.

by Dane Carlson

As a small businesses, your brand isn't a fancy logo or a special typeface. It's not a special smell, or a radio jingle. It's you.

You, the small business owner are your own brand. How you act and what you say has a direct impact on how others view your business. You are able to humanize your business in a way that corporate brand marketers could only dream about. When your customers call or visit your business they're able to have a real interaction with the real person behind the business. They don't need someone to align their expectations or to create impressions or other big company marketing magic.

As you develop an online presence, don't try to make your business appear larger or more "professional" than it really is. Don't try to create an intangible brand to replace you the owner as your business's image. In your community there are probably a hundred businesses that do basically what you do; but, they don't have you. That's what makes your business special. Highlight that.

Increasingly consumers research their problems online before contacting a local business service. If your website can answer their question or describe how you'd solve their problem, they'll be sold on hiring you before they even call. So, don't build a website full of stock photos of actors dressed like business people. Include photos of you, your employees, and your products and services. Show you and your business in action. Use photos and video to document your business processes. Describe in your own words what you do and why you do it. Don't try to include the popular buzzwords just because. If you can't write, record yourself explaining the business to someone else, and then transcribe that audio. Describe your typical day and answer the common questions that your customers ask.

Thanks, Dane.

MerchantCircle makes it easy to upload pictures and videos to your business listing. Also, you can use your own voice to write a blog through your MerchantCircle listing - click here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

BETA Launch of MerchantCircle 'Neighbors'

Greg Sterling, of Sterling Market Intelligence, recently profiled on his blog, Screenwerk, our "quiet" launch of MerchantCircle 'Neighbors' - which will allow consumers to create consumer profiles and 'follow' their favorite local merchants. This launch, which is still in BETA, gives our merchant base a stronger connection to offer deals directly to their customers.

Sterling writes:
In much the same way that MerchantCircle has sought to create a social network of merchants, it has now begun that same work on the consumer side. But the object here is not so much to link consumers to one another as generate more interaction between consumers and merchants and stimulate demand, further activity and content creation. .....

If MerchantCircle is successful in getting consumers to join, create reviews, clip coupons and follow businesses, it will build considerable additional value for its merchants at no cost to itself.

Read the rest of Sterling's post here or create your Consumer Profile now! Click here to get started.

Consumer profile features:

My Coupon Book: Consumers can clip deals and coupons created by you!
My Reviews: Consumers share their thoughts about the best businesses in town.
My Merchants: Consumers can “follow” local businesses to get updated news and events.

Local Coupon Book

Tell us what you'd like to see or improve in our 'Neighbors' program, here, in our forums.

Community Relations

Friday, June 12, 2009

Using Twitter to Promote Business Deals and Coupons

MerchantCircle member Brad Loveland, owner of Advocare in Round Rock, TX, has been using his Twitter account recently to Tweet sales and promotions from his MerchantCircle page. Posting deals and specials to Twitter is a great way for businesses to gain followers on Twitter.

Twitter Feed

Deals and Offers

You can create promotions here and sales here from your MerchantCircle dashboard and coupons here. It's all free!

Nice work, Brad! You can follow MerchantCircle on Twitter too:

Community Relations

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Where is Bing Advertising?

Well, if you haven't heard, Bing is the highly acclaimed new search engine from Microsoft. Early reviews from users and critics have been good. Besides their TV spot, one online entity they're buying ads on is MerchantCircle. See below on the upper left hand side of our MerchantCircle city pages. This one from San Antonio:

San Antonio - Bing

Microsoft is buying the ads through Google, but a quick click-through takes you to a search of "San Antonio" on Bing.


Could this be a play to gain traction amongst "local" search? I'm not sure, but we like the Bing search results we've seen so far.

Good luck!
Community Relations

Thursday, June 4, 2009

How to Listen in the Age of the Customer

Guest Blogger Series Part 2: John Jantsch is a marketing and digital technology coach and award-winning social media publisher. His Duct Tape Marketing Blog was chosen as a Forbes favorite for small business and marketing and is a Harvard Business School featured marketing site.

ListeningListening to the wants and needs of your markets and customers has always been a good idea. Any good salesperson can tell you the benefits of listening - if you do it right the prospect will always reveal how to get the sale.

In today's rapidly shifting business environment listening is one of the key competitive tactics, but the sheer volume of what's being said makes it a more complicated exercise. The days of spending a little time down at the barber shop to measure the pulse of the market are long past.

Today's marketing must also employ a powerful set of digital ears to monitor and engage in the millions of conversations going on simultaneously in every corner of town and every corner of the planet.

By setting up filtering, aggregating and alert technology or services you can gain access to real-time conversations about:
  • Your customer's ongoing experience
  • Any brand/product/CEO mentions
  • Complaints about competing services
  • Inaccurate information about your organization
  • Thoughts and needs of journalists in your industry

The key is to create, either on your own or through a paid service, a dashboard that delivers the conversations surrounding topics of interest right to your inbox or browser as part of your measurement suite of analytics.

Your do it yourself toolbox should include:
  • Google alerts - Google Alerts allows you set-up customer searches for any phase and receive email or RSS alerts any time your phrase shows up in online media, blogs, web pages and news.
  • Search.twitter - For now, monitoring twitter is a separate stream (Google seems to be adding twitter conversations to SERPs) - using the advanced search function allows you set-up very specific searches, even including geographic details. These searches produce RSS feeds and can then be subscribed to.
  • - Similar to Google Alerts, but for twitter. Set-up search phrases and receive notification any time your phrases show up in twitter conversations.
  • - focuses on the most popular bulletin board conversations and can turn up responses that don't show up anywhere else. Some industries still have very heavy bulletin board use.
  • - Backtype is a search engine of sorts that focuses on blog comments. Blog comments don't often make it into the mainstream search results so this is a way to listen in on this set of content.
  • Social Mention - this is a mashup search engine of many of the formats of content such as audio and video - I've found it a very nice way to turn up some mentions that don't occur anywhere else.

Many organizations may find that the ability to listen in digitally is so important or so time consuming that they need to employ a paid service to do it. In addition, these services offer countless ways to filter and analyze the data you collect in far greater ways then you might on your own. The greater level of analysis is a great way to spot trends, find opportunities and measure ROI for your online marketing efforts.

Some popular paid services include:
  • Radian6 - Robust set of analytics, relates data in some very cool ways
  • Trackur - advanced set of tools, well worth the cost
  • Buzzlogic - focuses on helping you find key influencers driving conversations.
  • Filtrbox - very easy to use, powerful and low cost

Image Source

Author of Duct Tape Marketing - The World's Most Practical
Small Business Marketing Guide - Order Here
John Jantsch | Duct Tape Marketing
916 W 47th Street | Kansas City, MO 64112
866-DUC-TAPE (382-8273)
skype: ducttapemarketing

Thanks, John. That was really important information with great advice and links.

MerchantCircle members also have a few different free options on tracking your online reputation, starting with MerchantCircle360, where you are given a reputation score based on your online activity and exposure. You are also given helpful tips on how to improve your score.

MerchantCircle also shows you where you are listed online and where you aren't - tracking your business reviews for easy viewing. Click here to view.

Stay tuned for Dane Carlson's guest post....

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

MerchantCircle is Hiring!

To help facilitate and nurture MerchantCircle's significant membership and traffic growth, we're looking for a few good folks to join our small, close-knit team. With over 750,000 members and only 17 employees, there's a lot of room for passionate, energetic, multi-taskers, who want to dabble in several aspects of a still-growing, profitable internet company.

Some of the positions available:

- Web Application Engineer/Search
- Revenue Product Manager
- Community Manager
- Director of Inside Sales
- Director of Business Development

Click here to get the full details on job descriptions.

Community Relations