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David, Gerardvroomen - My point is precisely that simply saying that almost everyone is online is not useful information in most cases where the argument is presented. You also need to know what your customers do online and how to reach them there, whether it is through a company website, Facebook, LinkedIn or a profession-specific site or forum. Or if you can reach them at all online even though they are there! Unless that question can be answered, simply taking your marketing "online" won't do any good. Tony - Good point on targeting specific audiences. Even a smaller audience can indeed be a worthwhile target.
While you are right in that most people are online, this by itself does not really address the actual concern of most people who make the original argument about their buyers not being online. A more specific version of "My buyers are not on the Web" would be "My buyers are not using the Web to look for information on the types of products I sell." This is the concern that needs to be addressed in most cases, and simply pointing out the number of users is just victory against a straw man. In many B2B settings, the argument is more difficult to address. Many popular sites, such as Facebook, are heavily consumer-oriented. Where should marketing efforts be focused? For example, there are less than 4000 people who have "CNC machining" as an interest in Facebook. The most popular CNC machining group in LinkedIn has a bit over 8000 members. To be honest, neither of these figures is particularly impressive compared to the number of CNC machine tool users in the world or even forum's 74,000 members. The "Not on the Web" argument is really about ways to use the Web, not just about being online.
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Feb 5, 2012