The idea is to leverage the latest social networking and Web 2.0 capabilities to provide SMB owners and operators with a portal where they can network, share best practices, and gain new business at a time and pace of their choosing.
Valerie Jones, general manager of e-commerce for Grand & Toy, says the retailer is going strongly after the SMB. Its strategy is to become a trusted advisor to SMBs, and to help them connect, learn, grow and network.
“We want to be positioned in the market as an organization that cares about the SMB,” said Jones. “We’re their advocate, here to help rather than just sell them products. We’re here to help them grow, and what better way to do that than build a Web site with resources specifically designed to fit their needs?”
According to Grand & Toy’s research, SMBs turn to online networking when they don’t have time to attend their local Chamber of Commerce of Board of Trade events. Empower promises to connect SMB owners outside of business hours, on their time table. Better yet, Grand & Toy believes SMB owners will share best practices with people in similar business areas across the country as they won’t perceive them as direct competitors.
The Empower Web site, which is free for SMBs to join and use, offers a library of articles, videos and podcast presentations on topics such as writing a business plan and marketing. Online seminars will provide business tips, virtual trade shows an opportunity to showcase their wares, and a job board will aid in both talent acquisition and job search.