It’s no secret, many small business owners are overwhelmed. If that sounds like you, you’re not alone. Too much to do, too many choices, too little time, not enough money. Wouldn’t it be great if you could have one central place to manage tools that was cost efficient while providing time savings as well? Look no further. Tom Byun, Vice President & General Manager of Yahoo! Small Business, joins Brent Leary to provide a solution.
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Small Business Trends: Can you tell us what small business means to Yahoo! and give us your impression of Small Business Week and its importance?
Tom Byun: We are obviously very excited about Small Business Week. To first answer your question about what small business means to Yahoo!, it is a critical, core part of our strategy and mission to continue to provide relevant news, content and information to consumer audience.
You know, the thing about Yahoo! – it is not a well known stat but, we have nearly ten million small businesses, plus what we call intenders – people that may be aspiring entrepreneurs – visiting and consuming a variety of our services. They are a very important audience for Yahoo!
The business unit I manage is to service those customers and provide them with lead sources and tools to help them grow and manage their business on line.
To your second question about what Small Business Week means for me, overall I think small businesses are really the life blood and engine of growth for this economy. I don’t need to mention all of the stats you and your readers know about how many people small businesses employ. And the type of services and growth they provide for the economy. They are a crucial part. I think Small Businesses Week is a great vehicle and means by which more and more awareness for small business is created.
Small Business Trends: What are some of the main issues you are hearing from your customers about the challenges of marketing from a small business perspective?
Tom Byun: I have spent a lot of time with customers day to day, as well as working with customer research focus groups that are set up. There are a couple of things that we hear:
- One, they are very pressed for time and are focusing on bringing their next sale and the next foot in the door, or traffic to their website.
- Two, they are inundated with calls or requests for a variety of different services. Whether it is someone who wants to sell them a customer list, they are just inundated and overwhelmed, not sure of which services to use.
Often times they’re also overwhelmed with having to use a variety of tools and not having it in one central place for them to manage in a way that is not only cost efficient but, also give them time savings.
Those are some of the pain points that we have heard from customers. I think one of the trends we are seeing is more and more small businesses moving a lot of their marketing dollars online. But they are not sure which resources are cost effective and drive the best ROI.
Small Business Trends: Can you tell us about the Marketing Dashboard you recently released?
Tom Byun: Sure. The Marketing Dashboard we launched a few weeks ago is a free tool that helps businesses, entrepreneurs and all types starting with small businesses discover new marketing opportunities to grow their business. How to get that additional sale. How to get the word out, build awareness and get a more transparent and clear picture of their marketing campaign results.
As I mentioned, it is a free tool. But for a small nominal fee, they can get a much more robust set of features to help them manage marketing campaigns all in one place.
Small Business Trends: You have some services integrated into the dashboard. Constant Contact for email marketing, Orange Soda for SEM/SEO and Google Analytics for analytics?
Tom Byun: One thing we did as part of the research in talking with small businesses is understand, “When I am business today, and think through all of the different services that I am looking at to grow and market myself, what is at the top of the list?” There are a few things that come to the top and based on that, we talked to a number of different potential partners out there.
Email marketing is near the top of the list and Constant Contact is someone that we decided to partner with because they are already a proven, strong branded player. Then, as you eluded to SEM and SEO, we decided that a managed SEM and SEO approach is a cost effective way. It is the right approach because again, small businesses do not have a lot of time in the day. So we partnered with Orange Soda.
Now there are other services. For example, local directory listing management and online reputation management that we also are offering as part of the service. The local directory listing management covers over a hundred sites. Then, online reputation management we pull from up to eight thousand different sources. And then, as you mentioned, site traffic analysis is with Google Analytics.
Small Business Trends: Can you talk a little bit about marketing initiatives and their impact on a company’s reputation online?
Tom Byun: Definitely. You know, especially with the growing voices and opinions from consumers, it is really important that you stay abreast of what is being said and how to respond to it.
In the dashboard, we have integrated a reputation tracker. You can look at how many reviews in terms of mentions you have gotten, how many reviews this month, and there is a distribution of ratings – whether it is positive, negative or neutral.
One other I will call out, and this gets added as part of the paid upgrade feature, is being able to understand and track what is being said by your competitors near you. Just having a pulse on that and the voice of the customer is really important. Once they have information at their fingertips, it can help them improve the overall customer experience. I think this will be a valuable tool.
Small Business Trends: Where can people learn more?
Tom Byun: They can go to Yahoo! Small Business . We also have an advisors site at Yahoo Small Business Advisor  where there is a personalized set of content and resources to help small businesses. They can also visit the Marketing Dashboard .
This interview is part of our One on One series of conversations with some of the most thought-provoking entrepreneurs, authors and experts in business today. This interview has been edited for publication. To hear audio of the full interview, click the right arrow on the gray player below. You can also see more interviews in our interview series .