A Small Business Site That Works

Years ago, when I was still in school, I read the classic book “Working” by Studs Terkel. In it, Terkel compiled stories from people who worked in various professions and trades, providing readers an inside look at what it’s really like to spend one day as a waitress, a bookbinder, or a supermarket checker.

I thought of the book this week when I learned about a new site simply called Work.com. The brainchild of business-to-business (B2B) search engine and directory Business.com, the property isn’t entirely unlike Terkel’s book. Instead of providing insight into the lives of American workers, it’s a place for Internet users to get information on business tasks straight from those who have personally performed them.

If you’re looking for tips on how to obtain and operate a fleet of vehicles for your business, Work.com can deliver them. If you’re eager to uncover the best approach to starting a pool hall, the site will tell you not only how to select a memorable name but where to find the best pool tables, too. It’s home to a collection of guides, each of which provides an overview of business problems and directions on how to solve them. In addition to tips and advice based on personal experience, there are recommendations on where to obtain further information, including reference tools, service providers, and blogs.

“They combine articles with search results,” explains Jake Winebaum, CEO of Business.com, of the guides, which are written by business owners, consultants, professional authors, and freelancers. Anyone with expertise in a subject matter relevant to SMBs (define) can contribute, as well as post comments or ask questions to guide authors (who can choose to share their answers on the site). Although the site has only been live for about a week, Work.com already boasts over 1,100 unique guides.

The idea for Work.com was hatched from the knowledge that SMB owners rely on the Web for virtually all information relating to their work. “They conduct their searches with Google, Yahoo, or through Business.com and get a huge number of results, but the results aren’t edited and might not be relevant,” Winebaum says. “They don’t have time to go through all the results, and when they do find a relevant article, it’s often a dead end. Most don’t include links to where a problem can actually be solved online.” Work.com guides do.

As such, the site represents both a valuable resource for SMBs and a practical ad channel for B2B media buyers. As Work.com is part of the Business.com network, it naturally features paid search ads.

The ads are contextually placed and, according to Winebaum, the precision with which they are targeted based on relevance is virtually unparalleled. Peruse a few guides and you’ll see how a placement like this could entice Internet users to respond. In “Guide to Catering Business Events and Meetings” — part of the Event Planning channel — paid search ads promote caterers, restaurant supply companies, and wholesale catering equipment. In “Guide to International Marketing,” readers can click through to international PR services, publications covering international markets, and global marketing consultancies.

To date, placements on the site must be made through Business.com. But as it’s known for its specialization in SMB advertising opportunities, a network buy should appeal to most buyers targeting this market. In addition to seeing their ads on Work.com, advertisers can receive targeted distribution on such partner sites as BusinessWeek, Forbes.com, SmallBizSearch, and Entrepreneur.com. There are over 65,000 directory categories in all, and PPC (define) bids can be managed through Business.com’s self-serve online tools.

I still pick up “Working” from time to time for the interesting stories of other people’s working lives. I’m sure I’ll use Work.com in the same way, enjoying an engaging glimpse at different businesses and their related functions from a unique individual’s point of view.

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