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Startup Targets Small Business

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Small businesses can do their accounting on a desktop computer, so why can't they create advertising the same way?

That's the question David Farmer asked himself in creating adgiants, an online application service provider that will take small business executives through the steps necessary to create and implement their own advertising campaigns.

"Small business has been pretty much overlooked by the agency world," said Farmer, who until February was executive creative director at Barkley Evergreen & Partners in Kansas City, Mo. "Marketing plays an integral part in whether they're going to be successful."

Farmer's company will target businesses with fewer than 50 employees—generally too small to be served by even local advertising agencies. He got the idea for the venture about six years ago when he couldn't find any computer-based marketing programs for small businesses at any of the mass market software retailers.

The Web-based subscription service will use a tutorial format to provide instructions on how to create a marketing plan—everything from using yellow page ads to creating a full-fledged TV campaign.

"When you plug in a budget, it will take you down a certain pathway to fit that budget," he said.

The program will also help users create their own ads from templates. Farmer has already set up affiliations with major stock photo companies and independent photographers for the art, and the tutorial will offer headline writing suggestions.

"It's going to give you all the tools that creatives use to get inspired, but it will not write the headlines," Farmer said. "It's not making any claims that anyone will win a Clio or have a Nike campaign."

Eventually, Farmer hopes to have an online creative staff available to help users.

Farmer has completed his first round of venture capital financing for the product, which is expected to go live in the spring. He added that several "multinational agencies" have expressed interest in partnering with adgiants. He declined to name those companies.

Farmer left Barkely Evergreen & Partners when Brian Brooker was brought in to run the agency's creative department. Farmer has also worked with clients including Coca-Cola, Motorola and Exxon in past jobs at McCann-Erickson, Ogilvy & Mather and D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles.