Why the small b-to-b company needs online presence

The owner of a business-to-business enterprise, especially if your company is in the small-to-medium-size category, you may have your doubts about creating a website for your company. Direct mail, catalogues, telephone calls to customers and one-to-one sales meetings are traditionally your bread and butter, why bother with the internet? Isn’t that for today’s young computer nerds only?

If this is how you think, here’s news for you: the internet is more important than you think. If you can’t be found online, you’re losing a significant amount of business. You don’t need to take my word for it, there is research to prove my point.

According to Thomas Industrial Network, Inc., an industrial information service in existence since 1898, “96% of all industrial buyers use the Internet at some point in the process of researching, comparing, and/or purchasing various products and services. More than half these buyers begin the buying process online, when they are researching various products that might meet their needs (54%).”

Further, “more than four out of five industrial buyers go to search engines (83%) or specific company websites (85%) at some point in the buying process, while seven out of ten go to industrial destination websites (71%) for the information they need when making a purchase.”

Yet, only 44% of small businesses have a website, according to a recent study by WebVisible and Nielsen. True, this study focused on consumers, but given that business-to-business companies tend to be more conservative in adopting new methods of doing business, the percentage may be even lower among them.

In essence, this means that almost all industrial buyers want to find someone they could buy from on the internet, but less than half of those who could offer them something can be found there.

What, you don’t want to sell?

Frankly, I was amazed at these figures. If more than half of industrial buyers BEGIN their buying process with an online search, it is unbelievable that more than half of the businesses who could provide what they want don’t show their offering to the willing buyers.

An easy way to attract more customers

Creating a solid online presence is not difficult. Nor does it require any special skills. If you can put together a product catalogue, you’re halfway done already.

In addition to publishing your offering on the internet, you should also give your buyers a reason to do business with you rather than your competitors. This means spelling out how your product or service will improve your customer’s bottom line. An advertising agency can do that, but if you really want value for your money, you can get the same results using freelancers.

I’m not going to delve into freelancing in more detail here; if you’re interested in getting more for less, read this blog post.

The point I’m trying to make is: if you’re running a b-to-b company, however small, for heaven’s sake make yourself visible to your customers online if you haven’t yet. If you’re unsure of how to do it, I’m volunteering for your first source of information. Let’s talk.


  1. Jason - 2009-06-08 @ 19:16


    Your points on this subject are absolutely correct.

    Another factor to consider in regards to having a web presence is how a prospect searches for information. Today, MOST business people, even B2B, start their search for a product or service online. And, many of these searches do NOT begin on a corporate website, rather, they start with social sites like blogs and forums that offer peer-to-peer input.

    Having your company visible during the early, “search” stages of the buying cycle is critical to winning new clients.


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