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Verizon Telecom's central marketing approach to its myriad small-business customers is simple: give them so many services in one place, through its Small Business Center portal, that they simply won't think of going any place else. This year, Monte Beck, Verizon's VP-small business, has upped the ante even further.
“Last year the focus was on the launch of our Small Business Center, to become the daily destination for our customers to manage their businesses by professional networking and with our resources,” Beck said. “This year we wanted to add new services. We've seen tremendous traffic growth over the past year, and our strategy from day one has been to constantly add value to it.”
Visitors to the Small Business Center (business.verizon.net) can find a variety of services to help them conduct their operations more efficiently and profitably. Those services include e-mail, calendaring, Intranet, online meetings and online backup. The site also offers a peer-to-peer advice forum, as well as business advice and free tools.
In August, Beck enhanced the center further with Verizon Websites Powered by Intuit, a do-it-yourself package of Web marketing tools that includes website hosting, design and publishing, along with Intuit's Web-listing service to help local businesses get found on the Internet.
“That's one of the things we're most excited about,” Beck said. “Our partnership with Intuit adds their cloud services on top of our platform, so customers can manage their website publishing, too. That feeds the center itself, allowing small-business owners to tunnel in with our other services, which work simply and are priced competitively.”
Another big change this year, Beck said, has been an increasing emphasis on e-commerce on the site itself. Some of the center's services are free, such as reverse number and domain name lookups and an Internet speed checker, but most are paid services available separately or as a complete package.
“We're probably selling 50% more online this year than last year, which is another piece of our overall strategy,” Beck said. “The focus this year is on selling.”
In support of this effort, Beck has launched campaigns using TV, radio, print and “a lot of online, obviously, because these are online applications,” he said. Blended into the mix are direct mail, e-mail, outbound telemarketing and personal calls from sales reps.
Because the portal features a social forum of its own, it's only natural that it be promoted via social networks: Verizon has advertised the center on both Facebook and LinkedIn. Beck said he plans to add Facebook marketing tools to the center as yet one more service for small-business customers trying to figure out how to use social media in their own marketing efforts.