Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thoughts from Kelsey Directional Media Strategies 2009

Since MerchantCircle's launch in June of 2006, we have been a regular at Kelsey Group events. Our attendance has led to business meetings, partnerships, and interesting insights. The recent Kelsey Conference: Directional Media Strategies was held in Orlando and was attended by our CEO, VP of Business Development, and Director of Business Development.

Here are some of the random notes they sent me on their learnings and observations.

- MerchantCircle is positioned to take advantage in a fundamental shift in the Yellow Pages business model. Examples include, CitySearch and others where they want their customers to get exposure on our platform.

- Yellow Pages are moving towards a paid model where their sales teams establish direct relationships with customers and push product from a number of various sources – all based on what the advertisers demand – but with a bias towards performance based products.

- Here’s a quote from the CEO of Local Insight Media that one of the presenters said embraces the way all YPs are beginning to think about this stuff.

"My goal is to own the customer and provide a platform-agnostic solution set and track the results." - Scott Pomeroy, President and CEO, Local Insight Media

- Kelsey says "their own research suggests that small businesses want to do this (advertising) as self serve."

Yellow Pages guys like Dean Hodges of American Directory Systems: "I don’t have a comment on the internet. I don’t understand it, If you want to talk about print, I will talk about it all day."

Like we've said many time before, here at MerchantCircle, the print Yellow Pages are a complete waste of money for the majority of businesses out there. The sheer number of sales people ensures that there is a premium markup on advertising products to turn a profit for everyone involved, except the business owner.

Because MerchantCircle has no salesforce, and we're built for scale, we don't pass any costs off to the merchants. They can choose and execute online advertising campaigns with the simple click of a button at the lowest prices on the web.

Here are some notes on a panel discussion between Steve Espinosa, Andrew Shotland, Todd Renard, and Sean Morrow from the Kelsey Blog.

As always, we appreciate all the interesting perspectives and viewpoints discussed at Kelsey events. We look forward to the next one.

Community Relations

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

MerchantCircle Amongst ComScore's Fastest Growing

comScore recently released their Top 50 U.S. Web Properties for August 2009, and MerchantCircle got a special mention:

Getting Down to Business
Business-to-Business was another fast-gaining category in August, growing 17 percent to 38 million
visitors. led the category rankings with 6.9 million visitors.

While I wouldn't classify us as a business-to-business website, we're flattered to get the mention. Many of you members know MerchantCircle as a number of things, including a social network, a forum, a web site for your business, an online business directory, internet yellow pages, a leads driver, and recently, a place for consumers to find deals, ask questions, and a portal for two-way communication on the web between merchants and customers.

The growth in traffic is a reassuring sign that we're putting more LOCAL customers into more LOCAL shops. Recently in June, quantcast had us as the 5th largest online directory. And in January of this year, comScore had us as 8th fastest growing website from the two previous months. The growth and mentions are humbling, but an important part of what we do to ensure more local customers can connect with the nation's largest online network of local businesses.

Community Relations

Monday, September 14, 2009

MerchantCircle Radio Ads

With the launch of MerchantCircle Neighbors and Answers last week, we also unveiled a radio ad campaign across 4 major cities across the U.S. (LA, SF, Chicago, Atlanta) and online throughout the country. We need your support to make sure we grow our network to benefit both LOCAL consumers and LOCAL merchants. With over 915,000 merchant members and 20 million consumers visiting MerchantCircle business listings each month, Neighbors will allow consumers to create a profile to track quality deals and coupons from their local merchants in real time. Answers allows consumers to ask local merchants any number of questions to help solve their predicaments.

You can read more about these two launches here.

Take a moment to listen to our two radio ads below and offer your feedback. We are always striving to get the right message out in an effective manner and we value your opinion.



Community Relations

Thursday, September 10, 2009

MerchantCircle Press Coverage

As part of our launch around MerchantCircle Neighbors and Answers, we unveiled a radio ad campaign across four major metropolitan areas: LA, San Francisco, Chicago, and Atlanta, as well as a national online radio campaign.

Please tell us what you think, if you hear it.

Also, thank you to everyone who covered yesterday's launch of Neighbors and Answers, as well as mentioned us in some other way and form. You can read the press release here.

- TechCrunch - Hyperlocal Business Directory MerchantCircle Launches Consumer-Facing Features

"MerhcantCircle’s “Neighbors” creates a mini-social network around the site where consumers can “follow” local businesses for information on promotions, coupons and announcements. In order to access this feed, consumers need to create a profile."

- VentureBeat - MerchantCircle Answers lets small businesses show off their expertise

"MerchantCircle Neighbors, meanwhile, is a way for consumers to create an account and “follow” a businesses, similar to what you’d do on microblogging service Twitter. Then businesses can send out coupons and promotions to those customers. It’s a way for businesses to promote to consumers directly and again, keeps them active on the MerchantCircle site."

- Screenwerk - MerchantCircle Joins the Q&A Club

"Beyond the fact that this type of service is valuable as a general matter MerchantCircle sees it as a tool to “re-engage” merchants via its site. The community can vote for the best answer (as with other systems) and the merchants who participate can gain points to establish themselves as experts.

Consumers categorize their questions and can limit the geographic scope of the response to their area."

- Kelsey Group, Local Onliner - MerchantCircle Tries to Get Stickier with 'Neighbors' and 'Answers'

"Answers is a consumer advice service, similar to ones we’ve seen with Yahoo Answers and vertical sites such as (lawyers) and Trulia (real estate). Merchant Circle’s idea is that small businesses will become more bonded to the service if they regularly communicate with potential customers. It says it has already had excellent response rate in a month of trials."

- BizReport - Merchant Circle adds consumer connection to network

"First, the "Answers" platform. This gives consumers the ability to ask 'experts' - members of MerchantCircle's 910,000 local businesses - a question and receive a solid answer. From the best brand of oil for a Ford truck to questions about invisible fencing for the backyard, merchants are available to answer consumers' questions."

- ClickZ - Get Started in Local Search Without a Web Site

"Many local platforms, including local search powerhouses Google Maps, Bing Local, MerchantCircle, Citysearch, Superpages, and Yahoo Local, allow you to create a local business profile on a page on their sites. Many of the best ones are free, while others charge a monthly fee."

- Dow Jones VentureWire - MerchantCircle, Now Profitable, Goes After Consumers

"Having built out a network of small businesses using its service, newly profitable MerchantCircle Inc. is now going after consumers.

MerchantCircle originally built out a network for small businesses to advertise, promote deals and blog. The company signed up more than 900,000 merchants nationwide and has more than 2% of total merchants in 49 states, and charges a minimum fee of $30 per month for services like placement of search engine advertising to drive traffic. The company, which says it now has more than 20 million monthly unique visitors, uses a self-service system to sign up businesses and has grown without the benefit of a sales force."

Thanks for all your help and support.

Community Relations

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Completing the Circle: Merchants and Consumers Unite!

No, this isn't a battle cry for X-Men, but more a completion of a dream 3 years in the making. With over 910,000 members, on its way to 1 million by the end of year, MerchantCircle has launched MerchantCircle "Neighbors" and MerchantCircle "Answers."

After cracking 20 million unique consumer visitors each month to MerchantCircle listings, we knew consumers were routinely coming to MerchantCircle to find deals and their local business owners. They needed ways to follow deals and coupons in real time, and clip certain coupons for rainy days. Therefore, we created Neighbors.

Clip Coupons

Neighbors allows consumers to save deals from their favorite merchants, keep track of their reviews and ask questions from the nation's best local experts through MerchantCircle Answers.


From questions about your cracked windshield, to questions about the best diapers to buy, MerchantCircle has local experts in every category. What's the best computer program to use to do my own taxes? Can I patch my flat tire up? Do I need to hire a lawyer to sue someone? Where can I find an honest auto mechanic? No question is too difficult amongst a group of almost a million members!

We're ecstatic about this next phase of MerchantCircle that truly connects local consumers with local business owners. No where else on the web can you find such an engaging, easy-to-use experience that allows you to communicate seamlessly with your local business owners and experts. Finding and giving deals was never so easy!

And remember, merchants are consumers too, so start your Neighbors profile today and start saving money. To read more on the release, click here.

Community Relations