Working Point announced a new feature enabling their customers to create company profiles. This feature is an addition to their accounting, inventory, contact features, which offers one built in location for managing your small business.
A WorkingPoint spokesperson told me that, "In no way should the 'Company Profile' feature substitute for an actual web site, but rather be another piece of searchable information that people can find on a small business online. In addition to the Internet footprint this provides, companies also become regular parts of WorkingPoint's social media platforms like its blogging and tweeting campaigns."
What I think is interesting about this announcement is the growing availability of digital bread crumbs that a business has the option to create online. Why are digital bread crumbs important? One of the most important components of customer acquisition your business can do is to ensure you can be found online.
If you can't be found online, 99.99999999999999999% of customers won't find you.
Sure word of mouth is important, but online search is where most of the traffic will come from.
Having said that, my concern is that many smaller businesses will think their profile pages are enough for their online experience.
I was searching online for a limousine company for my wife and their web site, which I found through Google, was listed on Merchant Circle. They did not have their own web site, but they were in an online "mall", whichprovides merchants like this car service with web pages or profiles.
The advantage of this to the merchant, is that with minimal effort they get a web presence. The down side is that other "eye candy" - like advertisements for other merchants and for the host are visible as well. Some professionals advocate that having a dedicated web site is not important, but that a profile on Facebook, for example, is enough.
I still believe, that even with so many options for 3rd party business profiles, every business needs their own, dedicated web site, domain name and related email address.
Once you have your own web site, and a web site with great web design and other things (see 10 Web Site Musts), including email marketing, setting up a profile page, on WorkingPoint, Merchant Circle or other portals is just fine.
Ramon Ray is the editor and tech evangelist for Smallbiztechnology.com