MerchantCircle Launches First Online Business Network For Connecting Local Businesses to Local Internet Advertising

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MerchantCircle.com delivers marketing tools and advertising opportunities, allowing local businesses to effectively promote themselves on the Internet.

This phenomenal initial response is proof that local businesses want, need and are ready to successfully use the Local Internet to promote their businesses and drive revenue.

MerchantCircle today announced nationwide availability of its online network for local businesses. Found at http://www.merchantcircle.com, the online service is the first to help local businesses combine the power of networking and advertising on the Local Internet to attract customers quickly, easily and cost effectively.

MerchantCircle enables local businesspeople to leverage the Local Internet easily, effectively and affordably to promote their businesses, express themselves online and connect and communicate with their local community. MerchantCircle provides its members with tools and expertise needed to connect with other businesses, buy online advertising, develop email newsletters, coupons and blogs, and more. MerchantCircle also helps members’ ads get listed in search results on search engines, such as Google and Yahoo!, improving chances that their online ads will be seen by the “right” customers -- those that are qualified and local.

“We aim to help local businesspeople manage their advertising and marketing efforts so they can focus on what they do best: run their businesses and serve local customers,” explained Ben T. Smith, chairman and co-founder, MerchantCircle.

MerchantCircle has accomplished what many have sought to do -- brought large numbers of merchants online. Currently, MerchantCircle has 14 million listings, and provides some 10 million RSS feeds. MerchantCircle enables local businesses to get more customers from local advertising on the Web, to use online advertising tools and to build communities of related businesses to drive revenue and attract customers.

"The Internet is such an important part of reaching customers and building brand,” said Christopher Walker of Mission Grove Realty in Mission Grove, California. “MerchantCircle has been a great addition to our marketing plan, so simple to create and manage advertising campaigns and get the word out about our services. I know that advertising our business across our MerchantCircle network increases the odds that people looking to buy or sell their house will think of us first."

“During the past few months, more than 5,000 local businesses joined the network and began actively using the site, taking advantage of the tools and advertising opportunities available there,” continues Smith. “This phenomenal initial response is proof that local businesses want, need and are ready to successfully use the Local Internet to promote their businesses and drive revenue.”

The Right Time for Local Businesses to Use Online Advertising

Current research from the Kelsey Group shows that local businesses spend four to six thousand dollars per year on traditional print advertising, such as the Yellow Pages, which provides little measurement for success. With a growing number of consumers using the Web first to find information on goods and services, traditional print advertising media such as the Yellow Pages are becoming even more ineffective. According to a recent study by Burst Media, some 57.1 percent of all Web users 18 years and older say that it is their primary source of information about products or services they want to buy.

The Local Internet Has Arrived, Connecting Local Consumers with Local Content

“This shift in shopping behavior supports the idea that the ‘Local Internet’ has arrived,” said Smith. “There is a high enough density of consumers online that they now interact with other people locally online. This makes it essential for local businesses to tap into the appropriate online advertising vehicles, so that consumers can find them on the Local Internet.”

A recent study by comScore Networks underscores this point, as it found that some 63 percent of consumers completed their purchase offline following search activity. For local businesses, capturing these customers as they search will translate into new customers and sales for their business offline.

“As the changing Web continues to provide greater options for consumers to find local information, a tremendous opportunity is being created for local businesses,” said Sharon Wienbar, managing director at BA Venture Partners, the venture arm of Bank of America, and MerchantCircle board member. “MerchantCircle provides local merchants with the tools and resources they need to successfully advertise their businesses online and take advantage of this opportunity,” continues Wienbar.    

Priced Right for Local Businesses

MerchantCircle provides measurable value to local businesses at very reasonable subscription rates. Prices start at free subscriptions, which include use of features such as blog-building tools and email newsletter templates, to $99.95 per month for a Plus subscription which includes greater online exposure.

Full pricing details can be found on the MerchantCircle Web site, http://www.merchantcircle.com.

About MerchantCircle

Founded in 2005, MerchantCircle, an online network of local businesses, provides advertising tools and expertise to enable local businesses to leverage the power of the Local Internet and relationships with other neighborhood businesses to attract new local customers. Found online at http://www.merchantcircle.com, the company makes local advertising accessible, affordable and effective for local businesses.

Contact:

Patty Oien

Breakaway Communications for MerchantCircle

510-303-7289

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