Although it’s been around for a little while, Google is doing some promotion of its new “Small Business Network.” Believe it or not it’s a lobbying effort to represent small business interests in Washington DC and at the state level. It’s also a clever way to open a new direct communication channel with SMBs:
Google’s Small Business Network was created to give small business owners the information and tools to promote business-friendly policies in Washington, D.C. and state capitols. The Internet provides an unparalleled opportunity for small businesses to start up, grow, and reach a worldwide customer base. But realizing its potential requires your participation.
Google wants to know about the issues that are important to you so that we can better invest in your goals and objectives and ultimately, your success. New laws, regulations and other public policy initiatives at the federal and state levels should be designed with your best interests in mind.
There’s also a little bit of what one might call “reciprocal lobbying” going on:
We want to help you stay on top of many issues, the first two of which are increasing high-speed Internet or broadband access and preserving an open Internet. An open, accessible Internet is a critical element in helping you reach beyond yesterday’s customers. The Internet has given you the power to compete in new markets and stay in touch with partners across the U.S. or overseas. Infrastructure that enables high-speed Internet and standards that keep it open have the potential to help create jobs in your hometown and around the world. Learn more and sign our open letter to Congress.
Assuming that Google can get enough attention from SMBs, this effort could be quite valuable in several ways: in product development, PR/communications, customer acquisition and loyalty and so on. Google might also develop an effective tool for grassroots lobbying on its issues (i.e., net neutrality).