TrendTracking: Government Websites, Blog Niche-ification, More

Welcome to the third edition of TrendTracking, a weekly place for small businesses to see and be seen.

  • CRM Lowdown is a blog about customer relationship management topics. Some of the posts are about CRM software applications, but others are about the general attitude and mindset of managing customer relationships. Craig Cullen writes the CRM Lowdown blog.This is a perfect example of the increasing niche-ification of blogs. Once it used to be enough to write about business on your general blog (2001 – 2002). Then you had to start a “business blog” (2003 – 2004). Today if you want to stand out, you have to start a blog on a specific business niche (2005 – 2006).CRM Lowdown is also part of another growing trend, the blog network. Blog networks are individual blogs under common umbrella management. In this case the network is BizNicheMedia, which appears to have 15 sites about niche business topics.
  • Buzzoodle is an online tool that helps companies create and manage buzz and word of mouth marketing. If you’ve been hearing more about “word of mouth” marketing, there’s a reason. Recently I heard an executive from American Greetings speak. When asked what had changed about marketing compared with 10 or 20 years ago, the first thing she said was “word of mouth is much more important today than it used to be.”Buzzoodle is the brainchild of Ron McDaniel, an entrepreneur I know here in Ohio. Ron also has a blog (but of course!) called Buzzoodle Buzz Marketing. Blogs are great for newly introduced products like Buzzoodle, because they help explain them and how to use them, in plain everyday language.
  • SearchSMB is a specialized IT search engine for small and midsize businesses. It offers resources about such information technology issues as “white papers on small biz security, disaster recovery, outsourcing and more.”
  • Blogs: A Global Conversation is a master’s thesis by James Torio, a graduate student in Advertising Design at Syracuse University, New York. You can download it in PDF format. Small Business Trends is mentioned in it. James also writes a blog, called EveryHuman.
  • is a new website of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The site is designed for small businesses, to help them understand and protect their intellectual property rights.As compared with the main website for the USPTO, this site does provide some additional information in an easier-to-understand format. Right now, however, the site is not as useful as it could be for small businesses — just not enough of the right information. Let’s hope the site is just a first start and that we can look forward to improvements.
  • is the “Official Business Link to the U.S. Government.” Color me impressed. If you were expecting a mere portal, with links to government programs, regulations and laws, and all very bureaucratic-like — think again. is a great example of how much some of the U.S. government’s websites have improved over the past 12 – 18 months.This site has a great collection of resources, tips and advice on running a business. The focus is implicitly on smallbusiness.Everything is nicely organized and easy to scan quickly to find what you need. Even the design is impressive — very 2005-ish, with the colored background and white centered content area.

Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.