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Monte Beck, VP-small- business marketing, Verizon Telecom

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Title: VP-small- business marketing
Company: Verizon Telecom
Years in current job: 3
Quote: "We're trying to provide our customers with solutions to make it through these economic times."

Over the last few years, Verizon Telecom watched as more cash-strapped companies slashed IT support staff or workers left corporate America to go it alone from home—and therein it saw opportunity.

In April it relaunched the Verizon Small Business Center (www.business.verizon.net), a portal that pools e-mail and news, as well as the Verizon Collaboration Center, a fee-based service for video conferencing and file sharing. There's also a Business Link Rewards Program, Professional Networking tool and Marketplace, with retail discounts from partners such as Office Depot and FedEx.

"Our focus is being the virtual CIO for small businesses," said Monte Beck, VP-small-business marketing at Verizon Telecom. "We can serve as that small business' trusted supplier, so they can focus on their real business."

Verizon Communications was the No. 1 b-to-b advertiser in 2008, according to BtoB's analysis of ad spending data from TNS Media Intelligence. It spent an estimated $357.9 million on b-to-b advertising last year, down 15.3% from 2007. Beck said spending has stayed consistent this year.

The small-business segment is a vital one for Verizon, which counts 1.6 million customers in 25 states, plus the District of Columbia. To promote the Small Business Center, it has used a mix of online and targeted print ads, as well as public relations.

"We want the small-business portal to be a daily destination," Beck said.

Verizon Telecom has also launched a series of webinars on timely subjects. A recent one featured John Jantsch, a marketing and digital technology coach and author of "Duct Tape Marketing," who addressed the topic of "Getting More From Your Small Business Website."

Promoting and selling Verizon's services is a by-product of the webinars, Beck said. Overall, "it's a way to network and communicate with our customers," he said.

While Beck declined to disclose traffic for the site, he did say it was up 25% from the unit's previous business portal.

The other key element of Verizon's small- business strategy is selling its FiOS TV and FiOS Internet Service for Business, its fiber optic network, which offers download speeds of up to 50 mbps. In a July quarterly report, Verizon said its FiOS services were growing steadily and had reached 2.5 million customers for FiOS TV and 3.1 million for FiOS Internet. It's currently running an online, radio, print and TV campaign promoting its FiOS services and various bundled packages, such as voice, data protection and security. McCann Erickson Worldwide handles its broadcast and mass media, while MRM World- wide provides direct marketing expertise, and Moxie Interactive, Atlanta, handles its online advertising.

In one humorous commercial promoting Verizon's FiOS Internet and phone services, employees at a small business yell across the office to each other because their Internet service is so slow. Another commercial promotes Verizon's security and data back-up services.

—Patricia Riedman

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