ThomasNet.com is a Supplier Discover Platform, is it a viable marketing tool?
Many of my clients have been asking about the services of ThomasNet.com. For those that don’t know ThomasNet, they are (in their own words): ” the leading product sourcing and supplier discovery platform for procurement professionals, engineers, plant & facility management and business owners seeking trusted suppliers for MRO, OEM and other products/services for their industrial, manufacturing, commercial and institutional businesses”. A lot of words,
Ok, so what does that have to do with SEO or Internet Marketing? Why are my clients and prospective clients continuing to ask about this site? The first reason is because they have a VERY active sales force. This means that if businesses don’t find them on their own, they will probably be contacted by them sooner or later.
The second reason is that I do a fair amount of work for industrial-scale clients, so they fall within the same niche as ThomasNet. Because of this I had already done my fair share of competitive research and knew how to face the inevitable questions of how my services compare.
The third reason is that when talking about SEO and Internet Marketing, we undoubtedly talk about Google, and using Google in the Industrial sector for more than 2 minutes you are likely to land on a ThomasNet page. Clients get intrigued when they see this, because they obviously want to get as much space on Google pages as possible, whether it be through SEO, PPC, Google Maps Optimization, or any other means possible. So they ask me, “What’s up with this, should we be on here?”
An Honest Review
Now I pride myself on being an honest person and one of the few honest marketers. I want to provide the best possible service to my clients, in a fair and open way. This means I need to be able to field questions like this and provide honest answers. I feel I provide the best marketing for my clients, so I don’t need to lie or bend the truth when talking about my competition.
I say this because if you look at some of the other ThomasNet “Reviews”, you will see that it is littered with salty competitors looking to bash their competition. It’s honestly a somewhat cheap attempt to gain some traction and maybe snipe a client or two from one of the bigger players in town. So I don’t want to do that. I’m merely addressing some common concerns that my clientele have had. After being asked for the umpteenth time, I figure why not just put my thoughts on paper?
So I did just that, I cover several areas where ThomasNet compares with the services of a solid local SEO company (like myself). So please read on, and let me know what you think!
ThomasNet vs. Organic SEO
I am an SEO at heart. It’s how I built my business and how I help the vast majority of my clients. So when I get questions about what a better approach to driving traffic, I am biased. I think a long-term SEO practice is the only true way to maintain a steady flow of leads and business. SEO may be slower, but it is usually longer lasting.
That being said, getting listed on a site like ThomasNet (or other similar sites) isn’t like Organic SEO at all. For one, it is merely a pay-to-play arrangement, while SEO is more of a long-term investment. This has pros and cons, mainly related to how long you will have to wait to see a return.
Getting listed on various platforms like Yelp (for consumer goods), Porch, Thumbtack or HomeAdvisor (for homeowner services), or ThomasNet for industrial goods or services, could get you traffic instantly, while SEO will probably not have that same effect. However as time goes by, your SEO efforts will continue to build, while those other platforms will have already reached their peak.
ThomasNet vs Google Adwords
One of the first questions most people have is whether ThomasNet is comparable to a service like Google Adwords. Businesses are faced with tough decisions about how to spend their marketing dollars and how to best grow their revenue and customer base. It naturally follows that a question of which platforms suit which needs best
The short answer is yes, both can drive business and both are medium of Internet traffic. Many businesses have a full-pronged approach to driving leads, including mediums like ThomasNet, Organic SEO and PPC/Adwords.
The longer answer is no, they aren’t really comparable. Adwords is Pay-Per-Click, meaning you pay for a each time a user clicks on your ad. It can be targeted by keyword, and further targeted by things like time-of-day and geography (among others). ThomasNet (to the best of my knowledge) is more of a yearly fee. Again these have pros and cons. With PPC you know exactly what you get, but you could end up paying $30+ for a click that does nothing but bounce. With yearly fee, it doesn’t matter how many visits bounce, it just comes down to how much business you get by the end of the year. Either way you still need to be mindful of your ROI.
What I Recommend
I’m not here to bash any other competitors. I think that’s cheap. I only want to provide the best recommendation I can, based on my expertise. When clients come to me asking about other platforms or services, I simply give them my best judgment.
In this case I usually recommend not putting all your eggs in one basket. It’s important to have a diverse approach building traffic sources, that way if one starts slipping, another is there is make up for it (very similar to diversifying your financial portfolio). So I don’t bash ThomasNet, I even recommend them, if it is part of balanced approach to Internet marketing.
You need to have one foot in SEO, because this will lead to long term payoffs and years of potential business. Going with an established SEO professional with proven results (ahem, like myself), will give you this advantage.
Another area of concern should be in immediate pay-per-click platforms, like Adwords, just make sure you are very careful to make your campaigns profitable. It is best to consult a professional in these matters.
You need to have another foot in other traffic areas, like supplier discovery platforms that come with yearly membership fees. (PRO TIP: Merely having your company listed on these sites provides you with some SEO benefit, as they count and referring domains).
I’m not here to bash my competition, because I don’t need to. If you want to explore other approaches to build traffic, I’m all for it, as long as it is done with ROI and profit in mind. I’ve seen numerous customers throw thousands of dollars down the drain with Adwords because they didn’t mind their ROI. Other clients have gotten bilked by fraud SEOs that end up getting clients sites penalized by Google. I rest assured that I can provide better services to these clients other agencies, so I don’t mind providing honest feedback when it comes to third-party platfolrms.
If a client is thinking of signing up, I say why not, just know in the end it’s all about business. If you measure correctly, any platform could be profitable. It’s when we stop focusing on ROI that we start to fail.
Until next time my friends!