SOURCE: Manta

Manta

December 18, 2012 09:00 ET

Manta Fuels Small Business Boom, Sees Record Growth in 2012

Leading Online Community Reveals Top 5 Tips to Help Small Businesses Start Strong in 2013

COLUMBUS, OH--(Marketwire - Dec 18, 2012) - 2012 was the year of the small business, thanks in large part to their influential role in this year's presidential election. However, like every business, SMBs were challenged with continued economic instability and fought above average unemployment, rising gas prices and fiscal policy uncertainty. Small businesses are flocking to sites like Manta to engage more easily with customers, prospects and each other. In fact, five percent of all of the country's small businesses are now active Manta members -- and the company expects to see that number double in the next year.

"Manta is in a very unique position as the online hub for small businesses to engage with their entire network and ultimately sell more," said Pamela Springer, CEO of Manta. "Small businesses are a critical ingredient for the nation's overall economic success, which is why we're committed to continuing to evolve our platform to deliver innovative and easy-to-use tools to help SMBs grow efficiently."

Platform Plus
This year, Manta unveiled significant enhancements, delivering small businesses with the only full-service platform for engaging with their community everywhere they are online -- from social networks to desktops and mobile devices. The new features help ensure SMBs can more easily grow their business online. With Manta Recommendations and Manta Social Connections, small businesses can build their referral network and manage their online reputation. With Manta's products and services pages, small business owners can now also showcase specific offerings online by uploading photos and videos to their Manta profiles.

"Having my business on Manta gives me the peace of mind to know that my customers and partners can find me online and on the go -- and that I can find them," said Timothy Schar, CEO of K-9 Patrol LLC, a company that offers patrol guard services and security protection for businesses and private residences. "I'm making better connections and I'm getting advice from experts, it's helped me grow my business exponentially."

Manta Momentum
K-9 Patrol LLC is not alone. Manta has quickly become the de facto online platform for SMBs -- nearly 90 million small business owners are now leveraging Manta to improve their online presence, gain increased visibility with customers and prospects and ultimately increase sales. This year, Manta experienced a 75 percent increase in membership year over year and more than 3,000 new small business owners are claiming their Manta profile every day, making Manta one of the most trafficked sites on the Web.

The company also accelerated internal growth, increasing its workforce by 59 percent and received a $44 million equity investment from leading global investment firm, Norwest Venture Partners (NVP).

Industry Accolades
The industry has taken notice too. Business Insider ranked Manta in the top 60 for 2012's Most Valuable Private Tech Companies in the world -- and also recognized Manta CEO Pamela Springer as one of the most powerful women running today's biggest startups. Manta was also named "A Small Business Influencer Champion" by Small Biz Trends, for significantly contributing to the success of the small business community in North America.

Sharing the Wealth
Manta understands that small business owners are not just looking for better online engagement -- they want a place to go for advice too. With Manta Connect and the Tip of the Day initiative, Manta is sharing its expertise on SMB challenges and trends. The company compiled a list of its most popular tips from the year, so small businesses can start strong in 2013.

1. The Right Kind of Business: Before you go after any and every lead, make sure it's worth your time and supports your business goals in the right way. Start by creating a list of characteristics of your best customers and then research the best way to reach them with your company message. Sometimes that can mean redefining your target market.

2. Social Support: Remember to give back to the community that supports your business. Shop locally to encourage others to do the same, volunteer your time to help those around you, and have your business host a fundraiser for a local charity. Extend this initiative online by engaging with your community and customers via your social networking sites. Engage your followers and be consistent with your interactions.

3. Customer Service is Key: The foundation for any strong business is superior customer service. Small things can make a big difference. For example, think of a method that helps you remember your customer's name and make an effort to engage in friendly conversation when you're working together. If a customer is upset, stay calm and listen to them (without interrupting) and always acknowledge the problem with empathy and respect. Always admit, correct and pay for mistakes your business has made to reconcile the relationship.

4. Keep them Coming Back: Remember to keep your happy customers happier. Try including a customized note on a sales receipt or sending a small branded item like a pen or notepad. Create special promotions for repeat customers and include a complimentary item or service when they return.

5. Tech at the Top: While it may not be the focus of your business, a top technical operation can make a world of difference. Start with your Web site; make Web copy concise and use bulleted lists and bold texts to make it easy for your customers to follow. Keep your own computer fit to avoid downtime due to technical difficulties. Update your antivirus software and clean out older files and programs to free-up space. With everything that's on your plate, a technical mishap is the last thing a small business owner needs.

About Manta
Manta helps small businesses profit, connect and grow through the largest online community dedicated entirely to small business. Millions of people come to Manta each day to buy from, partner with and connect to companies. By joining Manta, small businesses easily harness the power of the Internet. Get visible; grow your business for free at www.manta.com.