When birds of a feather flock together, they become stronger as their numbers grow. Networking, bartering and grouping together with like minded individuals provides opportunities for all involved. Tune in as Mark Adams, Director of Marketing for Verizon, joins Brent Leary to discuss this concept and Verizon’s WeCommerce solution.
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Small Business Trends: Can you give us a little bit of your personal background?
Mark Adams: I joined Verizon in 1995, came from MCI and I currently head up the National Small Business Marketing team. We are responsible for all of the online and off line marketing associated with channels and also our social media strategy within the telecom group.
I’ve been spear heading strategic online partnerships and really trying to support a distinctive ecommerce marketing presence.
Which is why we have developed WeCommerce.com.
Small Business Trends: What is WeCommerce?
Mark Adams: In a nutshell, it’s a Match.com for business. We are trying to help businesses find each other and create new opportunities and respond to proposals and really help them generate more revenues, more customers for the businesses that they currently own.
They can post any needs, offers that they have, and can also search available listings. Basically, it is a way Verizon supports this community of small businesses, trying to help them get together and create new businesses, new customers and new revenues for their business.
Small Business Trends: Was this something small businesses were asking Verizon for?
Mark Adams: I think what we have found is they were struggling on how to use social media platforms. How they could get their business out there to the vast number of customers that they were looking for. It was a really tough for them to network and find each other.
So WeCommerce is really about giving them a very specialized community where they can go create a profile in as little as ten minutes and then make connections and market themselves to like-minded businesses.
If you are a wedding planner and you just got an opportunity to do the wedding of the year, you need to get a caterer; you need to get a venue; and you really want this business. But you just don’t have those assets within your small business. You can go to WeCommerce, look for florists, event planners, anything within the WeCommerce platform, and actually create a proposal that you can go and present to somebody and say, “Hi. I am a wedding planner and I am going to do your wedding. This is how it is going to come off.”
So it really is expanding your company to address some of the bigger opportunities that you may be unable to do today on your own.
Small Business Trends: What role does Facebook play in WeCommerce?
Mark Adams: WeCommerce originally was a community on Facebook, on a Facebook App, that really wanted to take all of the businesses that were there and help them find each other on this particular platform.
While we started on Facebook we are going to be launching a site in the very near future. That way, any small business, even those that don’t have a Facebook user profile, can actually join WeCommerce. We are in beta mode right now just testing it out, getting good feedback from customers that have joined us so far. But we are going to launch a site.
Again anybody can check it out and it is free. That is the other thing. Some of the other sites that are similar, like Elance, and some of the other potential bartering sites, they charge a fee. We are free and literally in less than 10 minutes with no cost to the small business owner you can join WeCommerce and start getting new business, new ideas, new connections and new partnerships for your small business.
Small Business Trends: Are there any other differences between what other sites do and what WeCommerce does?
Mark Adams: Elance, just as an example, is a site for freelance jobs or temp jobs. We are not potentially in the employment business with WeCommerce.
Really what they are using WeCommerce for is to partner with each other. So if you are a graphics design company and I am a bakery, I will potentially design your website and you will provide goods at the launch of my company or something like that.
Again, the nice thing about it from a WeCommerce perspective about being free, is they can publish their current offers on there. They can use this website to market their services as well, and they can potentially join forces to make a greater purchase power. Let’s say you have a stationary provider and an office supplier and both of you need paper. Maybe you can combine resources in that way and get more of a volume discount, just as an example.
It is a really good opportunity for them to connect with businesses both nationally and locally. Because sometimes you are going after national type business as well. Then, of course, we as a company use it as an opportunity to promote our products and services to these customers.
Small Business Trends: Have you received any feedback from the small business community about how it has been working for them?
Mark Adams: The one thing that we learned early on is the profile process was taking a little too much time so we have streamlined that. We also made some additions to help businesses find each other a little easier. Basically, they give great, positive feedback and help us improve this site. We are going to make sure we keep this advisory board and continue getting feedback from the customers continually so we can improve the site.
People also wanted to make referrals and one of the things we just added in terms of the new functionally was Yelp ratings. If a business had tremendous Yelp ratings, that gives them a sense of confidence. If the customers are happy with what you deliver then your partnership is going to deliver.
This interview is part of our One on One interview series of conversations with some of the most thought-provoking entrepreneurs, authors and experts in business today. This interview has been edited for publication.
This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.