Tag Archives: SInglePlatform

MeNetwork Aims at the One Stop Mobile Marketing Platform for SMBs

One of the most promising concepts in local are “Write Once, Publish Everywhere” platforms for SMBs. With local businesses needing to communicate more and more deals, new features and special events to their customers, it makes sense to get them on a network to reach more people with one effort.

Yext and Google’s “tag” networks really got the concept going. These enabled an SMB to self-serve a promotion (“$2.00 off tonight”) throughout a network. The tech has since been applied to a wide variety of networked features, including photos, videos and menus — all wrapped in a suite of marketing services.

They’ve also been applied to mobile, which enables more “on the go” activity. Constant Contact’s $65 Million + acquisition of SinglePlatform in June was a strong validation of the space.

The services are terrific, but they haven’t been an instant hit. Pricing has been tough. Is it worth $30 a month? $100 a month? Or should it be bundled in for free? So has the challenge of getting SMBs to pay for one more “value added” service.

Last week, we talked to MeNetwork, one of the more established contenders in the emerging space. The company is based in Boulder, CO and was started in 2010 by banking, technology and ad agency vets.

MeNetwork sees itself as an SMB promotion platform that provides a comprehensive set of “write once, publish everywhere” services. One of its differentiators is that it is pushing a dedicated MeNetwork mobile app in addition to white-labeling its services with strategic partners. It’s risky, but potentially rewarding.

The company also enables easy point-of-sale redemption of offers via QR codes and Bar codes (with compatible POS devices) — something that will make increasing sense as more smart phones are plugged in, asserts COO/CTO Craig Page.

While the service helps manage and process promotions for its customers, it is also mindful that many of them already work with loyalty programs. MeNetwork seamlessly integrates with them, says Page. The aspiration is for MeNework to become the central hub for all of its customers’ promotional activities.

Pricing has been set at $500 a year (approximately $41 a month). Sales channels include self-serve, local media and vertical partners as well as convention bureaus and downtown associations.

Visitors bureaus in New Orleans, San Francisco, and Austin are already actively selling. The New Orleans center sold 200-300 SMBs off the bat, says Page. The company is also working internationally with a division of European Directories in Austria.

Working with outside sales sometimes produces higher than expected churn, and MeNetwork initially saw annual churn rates at 52 percent (actually, pretty low in this area). Churn rates have fallen to 12 percent however, as the company worked to train its reps to provide comprehensive and consistent customer care.

‘Write Once, Read Everywhere’ Extends to Restaurants via SinglePlatform

“Write once, read everywhere” concepts are popular ones with so many platforms to serve. Agendize is probably the king of these for listings and appointments, serving more than 66 unique platforms. Localeze and Universal Business Listings are other key players that come to mind for managing name address and phone (NAP) information.

Other companies are specializing in other write once, read everywhere applications for such areas as classifieds (i.e. Travidia’sBamboo Net). Now, for restaurant information, including social and mobile media, we have “SinglePlatform.”

The New York-based company was started over a year ago by entrepreneur Wiley Cerilli, with a first round raise of $1.2 million . Eleven years ago, Cerilli was one of several people developing Seamless Web, an online food ordering service that was sold in July 2006 to Aramark, the food services giant.

Cerilli saw a need for SinglePlatform because restaurants increasingly needed to post information such as specials, events and menus on a broad range of media –social media, mobile, directories, city guides, even games — and acquire new customers. Single Platform’s sales people make premise calls with iPad demos that emphasize the need to create a “full browser” self-serve experience, rather than a simple website.

One revenue model that is being pursued is based on pay per call leads. Calls to merchants on the company’s dedicated number costs $1.00. The company shares a portion of the revenue with publishers that work with it. Cerilli says that the company has already signed up companies such as Localeze, FoodSpotting, Menuism and Blackbook Magazine.