This is a question which I actually get asked a lot, and each time I get asked, it literally blows my mind. I always feel like the people asking still don’t quite believe or understand the amount society relies on search engines.
The thought process behind the question is that many people believe big companies already know who their suppliers are, they have a ‘pre-approved’ list and they find new suppliers from recommendations. I can see the logic behind that thinking, and there are some elements of truth to it but in general, it’s wrong - and here’s why...
I’ve worked in search marketing now for over 8 years and what I have found is that big companies behave, from a search engine viewpoint, just like any other company. How can I validate that? My clients and companies I have worked for have won contracts from Xerox, Bentley, Hamleys and hundreds more - all starting with a search.
The core of it comes back to the fact that it’s not companies searching for suppliers, it’s people, and people turn to Google (and other search engines of course) for answers - it’s in our genes now. Being hired by a big company doesn’t change that.
Let’s run through some scenarios, with the example of an IT management companies selling to enterprise clients...
Changing suppliers - Bottom of the funnel
The company already knows what they need but their current supplier has let them down. It’s likely that supplier was the ‘company on record’ and therefore they have no option but to go back to square one and find a new supplier.
Like any other company they will turn to the search engines as part of their process, looking for specific, generic short tail keywords, something like ‘Enterprise IT company’.
Buying something new - Bottom of the funnel
They have done the research and know exactly what they need - now they just need a supplier for it. The service is something they have never bought before so the company supplier list has no use. Again they are forced to search.
Knowing exactly what they need, they will use a more specific short-tail keyword, such as ‘logrhythm reseller’.
Exploring options - Middle of the funnel
Here, the company is weighing up their options of solutions. They believe a CRM would enable their company but don’t know which one would be best. In this instance they turn to the search engines for advice and information.
They’ll be searching using comparative terms, like “Salesforce v HubSpot” or even “Best CRM Platforms”. Showing up here gets you one step ahead of your competitors who are waiting for clients to reach the bottom of the funnel.
They have a new problem - top of the funnel
Finally, the company has a problem, but they don’t know how to solve it. As they don’t know how to solve it they don’t know who to ask for specific advice so they turn to the search engines to do some research and find answers.
This is a great time to be found as a supplier, because you can hook someone in BEFORE they compare their options and speak to other suppliers. At this stage the company would be using long-tail, usually question based keywords, such as ‘what is Petya ransomware’.
So, that’s my take on it. And if you want to improve your chances of getting found by these big companies get a copy of my FREE SEO cheatsheet to speed up the process...