Bringing Site-Building Tools to Small Businesses

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Internet firm Sitematic Corp. is striking a series of deals designed to position it as a key provider of do-it-yourself Web site creation tools and store hosting for small businesses.


"We believe that soon, being on the Web will be as common for small businesses as having a fax machine or being in the Yellow Pages," said Steve Mitgang, senior vice president, marketing and business development, Sitematic, San Diego.


Rather than sell directly to mom-and-pop shops, the company's strategy entails partnering with firms these businesses know and trust, such as their local bank, to offer the service under the partner's brand.


Earlier this month, event information and ticket site Tickets.com announced it will offer do-it-yourself e-commerce Web site hosting to 3,700 theaters, museums, galleries, sporting venues and concert halls that sell tickets using Tickets.com's software through an agreement with Sitematic. Other Sitematic partners include US West, Taylor Made Golf and Cruise Vacations. Sitematic is also set to enter a partnership with a major bank, the name of which company representatives would not reveal at press time.


Each of the partner firms will market the Sitematic tools and provide customer service under their own names.


US West, for example, last week dropped 20,000 pieces of direct mail promoting its new do-it-yourself Web site creation service, which uses Sitematic's creation tools. Results of the promotion were unavailable.


Prices vary among the partners depending on markup, but small businesses generally pay a $50 setup fee and small monthly fee thereafter starting at about $30.


Merchants access the service through their Web browsers and can design a site in a matter of hours using Web-page templates.


"In order to reach small businesses, it has to be easy and you've got to get in front of them," said Mitgang.


Within six weeks, Sitematic plans to offer do-it-yourself marketing services, such as e-mail list creation and management, and templates to create and place banner advertising.
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