70% of Americans research a product online before they buy – they look at product reviews. So Internet marketing and more specifically inbound marketing are critical. Google talks about a “zero moment of truth”, which suggests that people decide on a product long before they buy. ie - the "zero moment" is earlier than the first contact that a supplier sees.
One of the stats Google noticed was that people start looking at automotive web sites about 18 months before a purchase. Therefore, 80% of “car purchase decisions” in conventional marketing terms are really just about price shopping. The average shopper uses more than 10.7 different sources before they buy. If you were a car marketer and only cared about prospects when they were ready to buy, your only competitive weapon would be price.
Industrial buyers are no different. They go through a buying cycle that has lots of research into applications before they start looking for specific solutions. Those suppliers who engage their prospects at the top of the funnel will be the ones that help to set the parameters that buyers will eventually use to select a supplier.