“Having been a small-business owner, I appreciate this site. The whole world of merchant cards and online transaction processing is a frightening one if you’ve never ventured into it before. I remembering going to bCentral and similar sites, looking for online help through the dark forest.
"This VISA/MSN minisite does a couple of key things very well. It doesn’t pretend to be a purely editorial site, so the user knows there’s a sponsor involved. So I’d trust it, since they’re being upfront about it. The site also presents valuable tips and stories that aren’t related to VISA products alone -- and when I was in my usually harried owner state, I liked quick reminders of things I needed to think about. And the profile of a successful small business is nice.
"The site is an excellent reminder that Internet marketing doesn’t have to be flashy and intrusive to be effective. The minisite is creative, but not in a “whacko-creative-director-wearing-black-and-Prada” sense. The creativity is that it’s effective, offers a real benefit to the target market, and that it doesn’t waste my time once I choose to go there. It makes me appreciate the brand that delivered it – and that’s a rare kudo.”
--Lee Watters, Executive Editor
"In harsh environments, nature loves mutually-beneficial pairings. Sharks and remoras. Nile crocs that let birds clean their teeth. Lichen. And now MSN and VISA.
"Everybody wins with a strong co-branded site. The host gains content, the advertiser gains an audience. If it's done well, both strengthen their brands by association and added value for their customers. The new Your Business module on MSN does that through a small but useful selection of articles and case studies targeted squarely at small businesses.
"The site skillfully weaves VISA into the mix. All of the messaging centers on rewards--a smart move, for in the context of the site, they seem less like ads and more like additional business tips. The takeaway is that VISA wants to be your partner, and is willing to work for it.
"While I'd like to see some indication that the content will be updated regularly (encouraging small business owners to return), this is a site that does it right. And in the current economy, having symbiotic business partners like MSN and VISA can only be a good thing."
--Doug Fitzsimmons, Associate Creative Director, Tribal DDB Los Angeles