BRANDON — Even in strong economic times, small businesses such as family-owned restaurants and spas often don't have a lot of money to spend on marketing. When the economy limps along, small businesses have even less money to spend, but they have an even greater need to attract new customers.
A new company called CityLync pledges to help.
CityLync president Maureen Martin has spent the past 25 years helping local businesses, mostly restaurants and spas, with their marketing efforts. Now she's launching a new enterprise, modeled after Groupon and similar websites, that she says can save customers money and bring a lot of visibility to local businesses for minimal cost.
CityLync, which is set to launch Monday, consults with businesses to offer potential customers exclusive deals at restaurants, spas, shops and entertainment venues all over the Tampa Bay area.
As an example, Martin said, a restaurant that needs to attract more businesses on its slow nights — usually Monday through Wednesday — might offer customers a chance to get a $50 meal for $25 on those nights. The customers buy the deals through CityLync, print out a coupon and take it to the business.
There's no up-front cost to the business to offer the deals to customers, and the business gets paid by CityLync within a few days. (Similar sites often take much longer to reimburse the businesses, Martin said.)
Through her years working in marketing in this area, Martin said, she has developed a database of 250,000 people who will be CityLync's first members. Anyone else can sign up by going to CityLync.com. The company will e-mail offers to members.
Businesses can get information about becoming part of CityLync by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The offices are at 1503 U.S. 301. For more information, call (813) 856-4448.
Internet is marketer's method of choice
RIVERVIEW — Think Big Enterprises, which welcomed its first client three months ago and has been growing steadily ever since, helps businesses find affordable methods to use the Internet to increase visibility.
Lane Houk, Think Big's chief executive, said the Internet offers all sorts of free or very inexpensive ways for small business to connect with potential customers. New ways to do that are being developed all the time, and business owners may not have the time or expertise to keep up with the latest.
"A lot of times, business owners aren't aware of those resources, or they just don't know how to use them," Houk said.
Think Big also will create websites for businesses and can develop office automation systems to help businesses run more efficiently.
One tip Houk offers to small businesses is that they create blog sites so they can position themselves as experts in their fields.
The Think Big Enterprises office is at 12307 Boyette Road. The company's website is lanehouk.com. For more information, call (813) 438-2428.
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