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Turn it Up to 11: B2B Digital Media is Having It's Spinal Tap Moment.

By Tony Uphoff
Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Todays B2B digital media market is going through it's Spinal Tap moment. A quick audit of various B2B ad networks, marketing automation...

There is a famous scene in the movie Spinal Tap, where fictional heavy metal guitarist Nigel Tufnel explains that his custom-made amplifiers go up to 11. The interviewer asks why he didn't just go with the standard 10 as the highest level and Nigel answers, "Well 11 is higher. Isn't it"? Today's business-to-business digital media market is going through it's Spinal Tap moment.

In a recent post for Business.com I tackled marketing complexity. In this post I want to expose the age old problem of "marketing waste". We know that online has become the dominant platform for business people to acquire knowledge, products and services. However, a quick audit of various B2B ad networks, marketing automation companies and lead generation suppliers reflect numbers that simply don't add up however.

Several B2B lead generation companies we studied tout small-to-medium business lead generation lists or networks totaling 75 Million business buyers. This would suggest that they have a list that encompasses 23% of the entire US population and 66% of the entire working population. The most recent US Census shows that there are a total of 7.4 Million businesses with paid employees in the US. Of these,

  • 6 Million are defined as SMB's;
  • with 2.2 Million having more than 5 employees and
  • 1.2 Million having more than 10 employees.

Ok you're thinking, "What about very small businesses in the US that don't have a payroll?" The Census estimates that there are an additional 20 Million of those, with the vast majority being sole proprietorships that generate far less than $100k a year in revenues.

Related:Are You Increasingly Saying "We Have a Sales Problem"? 5 Tips for Selling in the Digital World

I'm likely not the first person to break this to you, but if you're selling a relatively expensive, differentiated business product or service, there aren't 75 Million B2B buyers or influencers in the US who have the potential to buy your product. For context, Apple has sold a total of 19 Million iPads in the US...and that's a product that has broad consumer appeal. Don't buy into the myth and waste your marketing dollars on programs that are running on remnant inventory, or questionable sites with potentially inflated reach generated by bots. Turn your amps back down to 10 and focus on buyers not bodies.

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