Flag Down Customers While They're Asking for Directions
BY Leslie Taylor
A weekly look at the latest products and services designed to help you run a better business.
Have you been looking for a better way to bring your small business to the attention of local customers? HopStop.com, a website that gives door-to-door travel directions using public transportation in major cities, recently launched a beta version of a location-based local advertising platform, which lets business owners reach out to potential customers when they inquire about travel routes.
HopStop AdLocal lets businesses target potential customers in a specific local geographic area by placing ads or coupons on HopStop.com. When a HopStop user's route or destination is a designated distance from a street address selected by an advertiser -- such as their business location, rival business locations, or any street address frequented by their target customer -- the advertiser's ad will be displayed next to the HopStop travel instructions.
Small businesses can create their own ads and coupons using customizable templates and include links to their website and uploaded images within the ad.
HopStop.com currently serves the cities of New York, Boston, Washington, Chicago, and San Francisco, but hopes to add 10 more cities by the end of 2007.
Press 1 for New Customers
A print ad in the Yellow Pages helps business owners reach potential customers that are already looking for a certain kind of product or service. Now, a new feature of the free directory assistance phone service, 1-800-FREE411, lets small businesses reach the same motivated, ready-to-buy customers through another medium.
Jingle Networks, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based operator of 1-800-FREE411, has added a feature that lets users search the Yellow Pages for phone numbers and addresses by business type and location from any phone. As in a Web-based search, users search the 411 listings for businesses using keywords. They then have the option to connect directly by phone to a business of interest.
1-800-FREE411's category search lets small and local advertisers reach a targeted market of consumers by placing an ad within the context of a normal-length 411 call. During the call, advertisers can also choose to present 1-800-FREE411 users with value-added opportunities such as discounts.
Get Cash Now
For businesses that regularly accept credit cards but might have trouble getting a loan, Atlanta-based AdvanceMe can give retailers cash today in exchange for a fixed amount of future credit-card sales.
AdvanceMe's Merchant Cash Advances require less documentation than traditional funding products. There is no application fee, and approval decisions will be made in less than 10 working days. Cash advances can be used to pay for unforeseen maintenance issues, or business-building needs such as advertising or purchasing new equipment.
Unlike traditional loans that require a fixed monthly payment, AdvanceMe Cash Advances are repaid as a portion of the borrower's monthly sales. So, if sales are trending downward, a lower repayment is required.
To qualify for Merchant Cash Advances the enterprise has to have been in business for more than 12 months, have at least $3,000 in credit card transactions per month, and meet a few other simple requirements.