B2B Prospects Prefer Print to Online

April 14th, 2009 by Bob Bly

A survey of 741 small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) by Breeding Business Information (BBI) revealed that SMBs prefer print over the Internet as a source of product information.

Of the B2B prospects surveyed, 43% said they rely most on magazine articles and direct mail to learn about products.

Only 27.8% prefer social networking as a source of product information, and just 19.2% like podcasts.

The lesson?

Don’t believe the new media evangelists and techno hipsters who say that, for B2B marketing, print is dead and all your marketing should be online.

They might believe every B2B prospect on the planet Twitters and uses Facebook.

But your serious prospects are reading trade journals, the BBI survey found.

So you ignore print at your peril.


Source: DM News, 4/6/01, p. 1.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 at 9:01 am and is filed under Online Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

20 responses about “B2B Prospects Prefer Print to Online”

  1. Jim Logan said:

    Right! The numbers you cite match my experience – very few of the B2B executives I speak with partake in social media of any kind. Mostly, they prefer printed materials – white papers, case studies, reports, etc.

    I don’t believe that means social media doesn’t have a use. It simply means you’d be foolish to put many eggs in that basket and rely on it to grow your B2B sales.

  2. Bob Bly said:

    I agree Jim, though if you read the MARKETING trades, you wouldn’t think so. All they talk about is having a Facebook page for your brand or hiring a team of bloggers or online content syndication or SEO. Clearly the new media consultants have done a successful con job, making everyone think that in B2B, online is king and print is dead — which as the survey shows is not the case at all.

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  5. Dan said:

    I have to admit that since I first started reading your blog, I have experienced a paradigm shift in how I view social media. I’m starting to realize that even though there are some bits of value there, most of that arena is filled with far too much puffery.

    At this point, I think too many businesses still don’t pay enough attention to their website. So rushing off to participate on sites like twitter and Facebook is a waste of time.

    I have had some fun in the work I did for that handful of business owner who convinced me to help them get on Facebook. But I don’t think they’re going to see the returns they’re expecting… as far as their hopes of attracting new customers goes. There might be some potential in customer relations, but that’s all after the sale.

    Business owners looking to get more sales using the internet would do well to go back to basics. PPC, SEO, a website that converts visitors into leads/subscribers/whatever, etc. The good stuff that existed before this whole social media thing.

  6. David Fideler said:

    Print will always be king for serious, high-end purchases.

    Can you imagine a business making a large purchase without studying printed literature, based solely on something they saw online?

    Can you imagine a writer who would rather have their work appear on a blog than in a physical publication?

    The hype about online marketing has gotten totally out of hand.

  7. Charlie Tanner said:

    Considering that magazines/direct mail have been around forever, if only 43% say that they rely mostly on these sources, isn’t that a pretty discouraging sign for those channels?

    Social networking has been around for about 10 minutes and already 27% say they prefer it?

    Seems like in a couple more years, the numbers could be reversed if you ask me.

    I think the real take-away from the numbers is that there are a variety of ways to get product information. No one channel dominates.

    Also, who/what is “Breeding Business Information”? I did a Google search on that term and nothing relevant came up (just dog breeding!)? Maybe I’m behind the times, but I’ve never hear of that organization before.

  8. David Fideler said:

    It’s actually BredIn Business Information. And here’s the link to the press release about the original study:


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