Dot.com titans are hard at work to tie into the millions of small and medium businesses (SMB or SME) in the United States. I recall a Business 2.0 article that pegged the Yellow Pages as a $15B/year industry… that’s all paper, not online. And Peter Krasilovsky reported today about Google’s efforts to provide micro-websites to potentially millions of small businesses that otherwise have nothing to link to (and therefore can’t buy advertising space from Google).
Google’s head of SME product development, Dan Rubenstein, speaking at The Kelsey Group’s ILM event in Philadelphia, said that Google is going to meet SMEs halfway to get them to actively market themselves on the Internet. Google is developing several new products specifically with SMEs in mind (and may have quietly launched them).
First, it is rolling out microsites to help the SMEs that don’t have a website but want to advertise on Google – a group that potentially represents at least 50 percent of the 12 million + SMEs in the U.S with ad budgets. Without a URL and website to link to, of course, ad campaigns on Google are highly limiting.
Rubenstein noted that SMEs would have at least five templates to choose from.
Front Porch Forum’s sponsorship program (under development) is aimed at the micro-to-small end of the business spectrum, and, therefore, we’re expecting that few will have a web presence, nor care to have one. The three-man roofing contractor, the neighborhood daycare, the one-woman tax preparer, the corner store and autoshop. They’ll be able to advertise very cheaply in one or more neighborhoods in one-month increments. We haven’t really started talking about this publically yet and already two dozen businesses joined our waiting list. And since it’s nearby businesses sponsoring the surrounding neighborhood forums, there’s less need for each small enterprise to have a website… just “Special this week at Jerry’s Gulf this month: $20 oil change for members of this neighborhood forum.” And everybody knows that Jerry’s is up on the corner. Stay tuned!