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Yahoo Pursues Small Businesses

Free_yahoo_website Did you see Yahoo’s full-page ad in today’s Wall Street Journal (or was it the New York Times)? Anyway, it was on the back page of one of the interior sections, and it declared:
A free website for every small business in America.

Now, everyone reading the paper knew it was a come-on; when you go to the Yahoo Local website they try to upsell you on the $9.95/mo premium version (click on the inset for details). Furthermore, the ad probably cost more than the sum total of "free" websites given away. I don’t know if it will pay off, but it certainly got my attention.

Financial Institution Opportunities
I got to thinking, what could a bank give away that wouldn’t sound too hokey or cost too much? The free website isn’t a bad idea, especially if you wrapped some ecommerce services around it, but Yahoo and many others have been doing that for years.

What about bill payment? If you were willing to open up your bill payment system to allow payments to originate from other banks, you could mimic the Yahoo ad in your market with:

A free online bill payment for every business in <yourtown>!
(exclamation point optional)

But a lot of banks already offer free bill payment, so try this on for size:

Free lifetime storage of your checks* for every business in <yourtown> *images of course

The creatives would have a blast with that one.

Finally, since those both have system implications, here’s something anyone could offer:

Free local online directory listing for every business in <yourtown>

To pull this off, you’d need to create a database (ideally) or an even an HTML page that lists the web and business addresses for every business in your market. Bank clients could be given premium listings/linkages. And you’d need to give the directory exposure with visible links off your website.