Printer-Friendly -
See File>Print Preview



Increasingly, purchasers are using the Internet to search for suppliers. You may be unaware of the total number of people who are doing this in your market sector. Many of them may be ending up with the competition. You may be concerned that fewer people seem to be out looking for your products. Your competition may be quietly laughing all the way to the bank, as they find the market is wide open to them.

How do you identify the size of this hidden potential demand? How do you make sure that it is your company and not the competition that is communicating with the customer and making the sale? Potential clients may take a variety of routes to find suppliers. Make sure that all roads lead preferentially to your website and to your company.


A customer who is looking for a supplier is like gold. They're in the mood to buy. Such a person wants to purchase and wants help to make an informed and "right" choice. So the issue isn't how you can sell to that prospect. The issue is how that prospect can purchase from the best supplier. In other words, this is not about marketing and selling: it's all about purchasing.

Compare this with the typical selling situation. You try to persuade the potential lead to buy now. They may not be sure they want to buy. Or they may not want to buy this week. Or they may not want to buy from you. This is what happens in a selling situation.

Now consider a purchasing situation. This is not just Permission Marketing versus old-style (sometimes strong-arm) selling tactics. Even Permission Marketing only means that the potential customer accepts your selling approach. The Potential Customer on the Internet is at the other end of the scale completely. They want to purchase and they want to do it when they're ready. They want to be in control of the purchasing process. The Internet gives them that control.


So how do we find out how many potential customers there may be? It's not easy but there are probably many more than you guess. Let's try to pin it down.

Some potential customers will look at directories of suppliers or industry related "portals". Such websites list all suppliers they are aware of. In some cases, suppliers can register on these for free and in other cases a fee must be paid. It is difficult to get an estimate of how many potential purchasers use such directories but it is likely to be substantial.

An even more substantial proportion of potential customers will find your website by using search engines. A rough estimate of the numbers of visitors using search engines for relevant keywords can be derived in the following way. Services are available to determine how many people searched for certain keywords for particular search engines for particular periods of time. One of the most well-known is a free service offered by Overture. Here you can check the number of searches for given keyword phrases during a recent month. For example suppose you were a manufacturer of hot tubs. In December 2003, Overture recorded the following numbers of searches for the following keyword phrases:

139,678 hot tub
8,835 hot tub spa
1,318 jacuzzi hot tub
1,268 hot tub supply
620 hot tub manufacturer
438 hot tub los angeles

Overture represents only a small proportion of the total searches done using all search engines. So the total number of searches for these keyword phrases on all search engines would be many times larger. Conversely only a small fraction of those viewing any given Search Engine Report for these keywords will click on one of the websites in say the top 5. As a very crude, order-of-magnitude value, the Overture number above may give you an indication of the number of website visitors you will receive if your website ranks reasonably highly for the keyword phrase.

Overture is not a very widely used search engine. However it does provide a rapid way to get an idea what the total searching community may be doing. For more soundly based estimates, a better tool is Keyword Research Tool from Trellian. This is a paid service, giving the numbers of searches for given keyword phrases for a variety of different market places and databases. It provides a very user-friendly way of identifying the most appropriate keywords. Using such a keyword tool, the logic suggested above can be developed into a much more complete and precise calculation. This will give a better estimate of the number of potential clients who will arrive at the website via search engines or via other portals.

If you have a current website that generates customer contacts, then the detailed visitor logs show where current prospects came from when they visited your website. You can do some related analyses to confirm how many potential customers may be searching in similar ways to your current website visitors. If this approach is of interest, please contact SMM for help in following this route.

The estimates above are for the whole Internet market place, which involves the global market place. If a certain geographical niche is your market place, then only a proportionate share of the global visitors will be serious potential clients for what your website offers.

Go to Top


How do these potential clients try to find a supplier? The next sections will examine some of the principal routes followed and suggest how these potential clients may be guided to your own website.


Perhaps your ABC company is so well known in your market place that potential customers may hear from a friend that the ABC company is a good supplier of hot tubs. If they type in the company name in a Google search box, will your website come up first? These should be the highest targeted potential clients for you since they are following a referral. If you cannot even lock in these, then the others in the next sections will be even more difficult.

If people cannot find your company when they know the name, then look seriously at what is causing the problem. If the name is too easily confused with others, then consider adopting another operating name. In some cases, it may even be worth encouraging someone else to switch names. However this does not need to go to extremes: MicroSoft did not really have to buy the MikeRoweSoft domain name. If you are seriously considering changing the operating name of the company, then Newsletter #19 has some useful advice on this.


It may be that potential customers in your market place often explore specialized web directories to help them find suppliers. The category listings of these web directories are often now being included as items in the Search Engine results for keyword searches.

It can be very instructive to look through these category listings identified by the Search Engines. You should find out which competitors are featured strongly in them. Try to match the listings of your key competitors and be equally prominent in these more important directories.


Perhaps potential customers will use a search engine to find potential suppliers. What are the keywords and phrases they may be using? Check out what keyword variants may be used with either the Overture tool or Wordtracker. It is also possible to sign in for a Google Adwords account and use their service to identify variants of keyword phrases that may be used. Once the most important keywords are known, then compare how well your website does in Search Engine rankings for these keywords versus the principal competitors.

If your website performs poorly with the search engines, then some modification of the website may be needed, or perhaps even a complete overhaul. See Newsletter #33 for the changes that may be needed.

Go to Top


Another way of cross-checking whether you are likely to be getting your fair share of the potential customers, is to look at competitors' websites and see where they are likely to be drawing their traffic. An additional source of data on this is a listing of the back links for each competitor's website in Google. This is obtained by doing a search for the term This will list all the more important "other" websites that have a link to your competitor's website. Perhaps they have identified an important directory or portal where it would be advisable for your own website to be listed. Again make sure that your website is as prominent as those of your competitors.


If you carefully check the ways these potential purchasers are looking for suppliers and apply the remedies suggested, then you should find your website traffic increases significantly. Remember these are people who are looking for you. They may well be in a purchasing mood. Having done the difficult part of the job in bringing them to your website, don't drop the ball now. Make sure that your website can help to move them towards the moment of decision. Newsletter #32 has useful advice to ensure a successful sale.


If you're not sure how big this hidden crowd of potential customers is, why not involve SMM? Our help can be configured to meet exactly the needs you have. Our strengths, experience, creativity and practical common sense can complement those of your company. So write us a Message today on what you're looking for without obligation.

Barry Welford

Most Popular Newsletters

If you have found this newsletter interesting, perhaps one of the other most read newsletters may also be of value to you.


Added to site 27 January 2004

To subscribe enter e-mail address

Printer-Friendly -
See File>Print Preview

Search the Web Search the SMM Newsletters and The Other Bloke's Blog


So do you agree or disagree? Is this message right? Is there some part of this where you have a problem? Would you have liked more information on any of the issues? Whatever your reaction, please give us your feedback. In this way, we can tune the content of future Newsletters to better meet your needs.

Go to Top
Email Marketing $19/Month!

Subscribe to our Blogs via Feedburner
BPWrap The Other Bloke's Blog

follow bwelford on Twitter Follow Me!

Reproducing This Document: Permission is granted to reproduce this Document in its entirety in an e-mail newsletter or on a web site provided that the article is reproduced as shown above, with a hyperlink to with credit in writing to SMM Internet Marketing Consultants. Please send an e-mail notification and a copy of the newsletter or link to upon reproducing the Document.

� 1998 - 2011 SMM Internet Marketing Consultants. All Rights Reserved. E:
Any unauthorized reproduction or distribution of the contents of this website may result in legal proceedings.
SMM (formerly know as SMM Strategic Marketing Montreal), 26210 72nd avenue, Langley BC, Canada V4W 1V5 T: (778) 686-9115