Does Business to Business Online Advertising Work?

Last week, I was playing an online word game with my son.  We were using the “free” version so we were subject to advertisements.  After a round of playing, an ad appeared for a packaging equipment company.  I was impressed and frightened that the game knew that much about me.  I was also curious, as I know the company that was advertising quite well.  I have personal relationships with their president and sales people.  We sell to the same customers.  I filled the form out.

The next day, I got an email from one of their sales people, whom I know well.  I told her I was wondering if the advertising worked.  Before I finished my question, she said, “It’s a complete waste.  We get no leads whatsoever.  We are probably changing our spend next year.”  We got in a discussion about how to increase business and customer awareness.  Personal contacts, via phone calls, visits, and emails from sales people is much more effective than online advertising for both of our businesses.  I don’t think we’re unique.  No one has cracked the code for b to b marketing online. LinkedIn is great for job hunters and HR people looking to hire.  Social media might work for consumer awareness but I have found very few businesses that tell me they get a return on those investments. 

Marketing is a key way to grow your business.  Business to business companies spend tons of money on online marketing and advertising but see little sales growth in return.  I have a feeling some of that spend is going to be directed into other marketing efforts in the near future.    

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