Broadband providers, especially those formerly associated with telco Yellow Pages, are trying to get back in the game of providing marketing services for small businesses. They’re looking to provide Web 2.0 directory-like profiles and search engine marketing services for small and medium-sized businesses with the idea of maintaining their subscriber accounts, and adding revenues from the slate of premium offerings.
SMBLive, a Reston, Virginia-based software company, has specifically zeroed in on this market, signing deals with BT, Telmex, Telus and Swisscom. Its inaugural launch with BT’s broadband division, called BT Tradespace, has already garnered more than 125,000 SMB participants.
SMBLive Founder and CEO Matt Howard, a Groove Networks veteran, says the idea behind SMBLive was to create a “lightweight” Web 2.0 platform to help SMBs get online in “15 minutes or less.” What’s unique is that the user-generated business listings are quite rich and are capable of pulling in information from all over the Web.
The profiles are “elegantly optimized for natural search” and are always changing as the sellers post new content such as photos, blogs, and videos (although video is only via links with YouTube). The profiles themselves include several calls to action for buyers including rate this business, map this business via MS Virtual Earth, click-to purchase via PayPal, click-to-call the seller, and click to receive seller details.
In addition to the individual seller sites, there is a BT Tradespace portal site that aggregates and dynamically displays different types of seller content, using an Endeca search platform to highlight those businesses that actively participate and/or buy premium services.
“The ideal customer has less than 15 employees and no IT department,” Howard adds. While basic profiles are created for free, the idea is that they’ll upgrade via credit card to packages starting at $30 per month after four to six months — a strategy also utilized by other players in the space, such as MerchantCircle.