Monday, June 11, 2012

New Business Communities Stare Down Manta, Merchant Circle

StoreBoard, ShowMeLocal and CrunchBase Making Waves


A handful of new business communities have popped up in recent months and appear poised to make a serious run at traditional kings of the small business directory/community Manta and Merchant Circle.

One of these is
CrunchBase, which appears to be the business affiliate of TechCruch.

CruchBase is slightly different from the others in that anyone can suggest an edit, and anyone can add anyone else to the site (it's also for the people who run the businesses). However, it has a unique look and feel to it, and it's the only site in its class that allows a company to list literally ALL of its presences on third-party and social networking sites.

CrunchBase Information
Egan Medical Equipment


Another of the three communities to really raise some eyebrows is
Storeboard, whose membership is growing faster than America's national debt. While Storeboard hasn't been around that long, the site is clean, highly functional and for the most part well-patrolled for spam.

Storeboard has a comprehensive set of features, as is evidenced by the photo below of a
typical Storeboard profile


In addition to their main profile page (pictured above) Storeboard allows companies to host their own blog, post news stories, post links, add photos and videos, list their Facebook and Twitter info as well as chat away in the new-to-debut Storeboard Forums.

Like most sites of this nature, both Storeboard and the below-described allow users to post products, coupons, deals, jobs and classifieds to the site.


Finally, the third of the three online communities for business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals that appears poised to mount a serious challenge for marketshare in the online world of small business directories / business owner communities is called
ShowMeLocal, with the emphasis on this one obviously being the local aspect.

ShowMeLocal profiles are too large to include in this post with a single screen-shot, but they're nearly as full-featured as are Storeboard's.

The bottom line with all three of these sites is that their platforms, technology, features and staff all seem to be at least equal to if not better than the two dominant players in the business, and any of the three could emerge as a long-term competitor that will draw significant humans and resources away from the other two, dramatically altering the landscape for years to come.

If you own a business and care about how well it does or whether or not it succeeds, having a profile on each of these sites is absolutely imperative.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Phone Stalkers Do More Harm Than Good

As anyone who has ever made the mistake of signing up to receive information about online colleges and traditional universities with extensive online course offerings knows all-too-well, the ensuing harassment undertaken by the telemarketers acting on behalf of the various "institutions of higher learning" can be a major detriment to one's quality-of-life. The callers have no regard for the privacy of their victims, calling seven days a week, and numerous times each day at that.

Their goal is to get the victim to agree to attend their substandard self-proclaimed educational institute for the sole purpose of persuading the telemarketers to leave them alone.

I have been called by online universities and payment processing companies as early as 6:30 am, give or take five minutes, as late as 9:00 pm, not to mention on weekends, when for a period of several months I would receive several calls each day without exception.

I know I didn't sign up for this harassment. But how then would they get my information and what would lead them to believe I had any interest whatsoever in attending their bogus universities or switching to their payment processing service that has to rely on cold calling  in order to generate leads. This tells me that their service must not be very good if mass media plus word-of-mouth is insufficient to generate attention, and if they must resort to calling me hours before I'd otherwise wake up on a Saturday in order to inform me of their company's existence, I will continue to interpret that as their way of saying that neither their service nor their company meets my standards.

The most important lesson to take from this is that if you have an enemy (or enemies), and you'd really like to get at them good, sign them up unknowingly for information about taking college courses online and/or hiring any one of a large number of payment processing companies which all appear to use the same telemarketing service to inundate unsuspecting would-be customers with unwanted phone calls.

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