MicroMentor is a free online service that connects small business owners with business mentors. MicroMentor puts experience to work by offering business professionals meaningful volunteer opportunities and by offering entrepreneurs one-on-one advice to help build successful businesses. Our mission is to help small businesses grow faster, generate more revenue, and employ more people. We make it easy to be a mentor, find a mentor, and build a business.
A free online service, we provide entrepreneurs with proven opportunities to grow their businesses and increase revenues by participating in a mentoring relationship.
Entrepreneurs, particularly those with low-incomes and limited access to business resources, realize significant economic benefits from mentoring services.
Mentors are provided with meaningful opportunities to “give back” by sharing their experience and expertise.
We primarily connect microentrepreneurs, owners of businesses that employ five people or less, to volunteer mentors who have successfully navigated business ownership or management.
MicroMentor is dedicated to the proposition that the success of low-income microentrepreneurs is crucial to the economic and social well being of our communities.
For more information, download MicroMentor’s Program Overview or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MicroMentor is an initiative of Mercy Corps. Mercy Corps is a non-profit, humanitarian agency that implements community-led and market-driven programs in over 35 developing countries.
Marketing and UI Design
Mary Chant has been working with us across three primary areas:
1) Marketing Strategy and Capacity Building: Mary’s primary duty has been to establish MicroMentor’s marketing operations from the ground up. She has produced an extensive Marketing Plan, helped us establish our core value proposition and messaging, identified mechanism for distributing our message and compelling participants to join MicroMentor, and she is setting up key systems and processes for planning, managing, and evaluating our marketing efforts. These systems include Google AdWords, Google Analytics, and Salesforce.com (including the integration of third-party applications such as AdWords for Salesforce, Vertical Response, and DreamTeam). She also leads our weekly Marketing Meeting and manages our Marketing Calendar.
2. Developing and Executing Marketing Campaigns: In addition to leading our marketing strategy and planning, Mary also leads the execution of this strategy. This primarily involves producing and rolling-out individual marketing campaigns, aligned with either specific events (e.g., National Mentoring Month, National Entrepreneurship Week, etc.), or a specific target population (e.g., women entrepreneurs, skilled business volunteers, etc.). Each campaign is multi-faceted, usually included a mix of web content development, Google Adwords, posts on relevant external sites (e.g., usaservice.org), outreach to relevant organizations (e.g., Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education/National Entrepreneurship Week), and social media outlets (e.g., Facebook, Digg, etc.). Mary also coordinates ad hoc marketing opportunities, ensuring that we are disseminating a consistent message across a variety of web sites and media outlets.
3. Product Development: Mary has lent her deep experience in usability and interaction design to our major web application development project: MicroMentor 2.0. She has advised MicroMentor management on best practice and has analyzed and made recommendation at key decision points during the process. She has helped us conduct usability testing and analyze the results. All of this has greatly enhanced our product development process and has substantially improved the quality and usability of MicroMentor 2.0, which we will be releasing in late March 2009.
Mary has made many valuable contributions over the first half of her VISTA term. A few of her more major accomplishments during this period include: a) Developing a Marketing Plan: Mary surveyed our existing (and admittedly disorganized) market research, marketing materials, web content, etc. and performed research and analysis (including interviewing key staff and partners) to produce a comprehensive Marketing Plan, This plan includes market research, competitive analysis, positioning/branding, internet marketing strategies, offline/traditional advertising strategies, marketing goals, and evaluation mechanisms. The Marketing Plan is key piece of our strategic planning work, and has guided the development of our marketing efforts. b) Overhauling the MicroMentor Website: Mary gave the MicroMentor website a badly needed makeover, re-arranging the navigation and content to make key sections easier to find, changing the layout of our homepage to increase the conversation rate of first time visitors, and adding keywords to improve our search engine optimization (SEO), and adding content to improve our SEO and better support our participants. She has continued to improve the website throughout her tenure, and we will be migrating many of these changes to our new website when it launches in late March. c) Implementing Key Systems and Processes: Mary has set up key systems for the MicroMentor team, including Google AdWords, Google Analytics, Salesforce.com, and several Salesforce applications, such as Vertical Response, and DreamTeam (a project management application). She has also established a marketing campaign planning process and a website and marketing material change control process for us. These key systems and processes have greatly increased our program capacity and will remain in use long after the end of Mary’s VISTA term. d) Leading Usability Testing and Analysis for MicroMentor 2.0: Mary helped us significantly enhance the usability of our new mentoring platform–MicroMentor 2.0–by leading a user testing and analysis project. She provided usability training to our staff, planned our user testing process, oversaw the tests, reviewed the results, and made recommendations for modifications to our application design. This project was particularly challenging as we had to perform the tests and deliver the results in a very short timeframe, and Mary worked long hours and significant overtime to help us meet our goals.
The impact of Mary’s contributions is readily apparent in our quantitative and qualitative program feedback. First off, her marketing efforts have spurred tremendous growth in our program. Our participant enrollment during the first half of her VISTA period (7/1/08 - 12/31/08) jumped from 236 to 684, a 190% increase, compared to the same period a year ago. Additionally, when comparing the first half of Mary’s VISTA period to the same period a year ago, visits to the MicroMentor website have increased 180%, the average time spent on the site has increased 39%, and our bounce rate (the number of people visiting the site and immediately leaving) has decreased by 11%. All of this indicates that more people are learning about the MicroMentor program and that our website is more compelling and useful to visitors.