Microsoft's Open Live Small Business

Microsoft's Open Live Small Business site offers you "Everything You Need To Grow Your Business Online".

*Create your own professional Web sitefor FREE

Microsoft Office Live Small Business makes it easy to create a professional-looking Web site for your business. Sign up and you’ll have everything you need to get started – including free Web hosting, a custom domain name, e-mail accounts, e-commerce, and more.

*Attract Customers

Reach new customers and stay connected to existing ones

Microsoft Office Live Small Business has easy-to-use, affordable online marketing products to help get your business noticed. No long-term commitments or costly up-front fees mean you’ve got nothing to lose but potential sales opportunities.

*Manage Your Business

Stay on top of your business with simple online tools

Managing and tracking information isn’t easy when you’re busy running your business. But powerful online applications can help you organize and access sales opportunities, contacts, project schedules, documents, and more. So whether you’re in the office or on the road you can stay on top of your business."

Visa is a site sponsor/partner in a promotion called Business Break Though, Presented by Visa where businesses can sign up for a shot at 10k worth of consulting. Talk about paying for a lead.

Visitors will find slick, well produced videos offering small to medium businesses previews of their services. The videos show consultants visiting businesses that either lacked a web presence, marketing plan or sufficient technology infrastructure.

Microsoft partner consultants of course can sell you solutions to get your business on course.

Slick, very slick.

Read the New York Times take.


Small Business Marketing & HP

I was reading Mashable this morning and noticed a sponsored add by HP pushing small business marketing. Clicked over and landed on Small Business Trends, an SMB marketing blog operated by Anita Campbell.

The site is a success judging by the amount of readers (137k) and all the comments or suggestions posted on the tips page by celebrated personalities in the online marketing realm.

The tips page sponsorship by HP is smart, marketing on a marketers site. They expose readers to HP computers, office supplies, copies etc.

I'm not a fan of full site or even dedicated special event page sponsorship. I understand the idea from HP's point of view however when a site is 'owned' by a particular brand objectivity is automatically questioned.

If this site was fully sponsored by someone like Idearc's Superpages I would not be able to point my clients to advantages offered by competitors.

Once I take a dedicated sponsorship I become a blogger for them, not an objective agent for my clients.

On the other hand life would be simpler.