Should I Pay B2B Platforms like Alibaba for Marketing?

When marketing platforms were new and most companies did not have their own websites, the platforms were very useful for finding international customers.

But Times have changed.

Now platforms such as Alibaba have over a million companies listed but most companies have their own websites. So can you do better with your own website now?

Do you still need to spend money on marketing platforms in 2021?

Advantages of B2B Marketing Platforms

  • Quickly display your products internationally (For a low initial fee)
  • Appears cheaper than doing your own marketing (But it isn’t always)
  • Alibaba appears on Google page one for many keywords (But you are still one of many, many companies competing for that keyword)


Disadvantages of B2B Marketing Platforms

  • Too Much Competition over – 1 million suppliers (The bigger the platform, the smaller your chance of being found by customers)
  • Many Hidden Costs – To be found easily you need to spend more and more money on ads and premium placement for your listings.
  • No Added Value – If you leave you lose it all.

How Do Marketing Platforms Make Money?

The biggest platforms (like Alibaba) have made owners such as Jack Ma and Daniel Zhang extremely rich. They rely on customer volume to make them rich, not quality of service:

How The Platforms are Sold

  • Platforms work through hundreds of small marketing companies – They resell their services with teams of salesmen to customers around Asia.
  • Resellers make money by commission – The maximum number of customers paying for the maximum amount of advertising.
  • Resellers go door to door selling the services as fast as possible, so customer turnover is not a big issue for them, there are plenty more people to sign up. (If a marketing company has many salesmen, be careful)
  • Customers have to pay upfront for services. If they leave due to poor results, the platform does not lose money.

Do These Marketing Platforms Work in The USA and EU?

Let’s take two B2B keywords that a customer might search for in the USA and test them out.

Please search Google for these keywords:

metal cutting bandsaw manufacturer

cnc lathe manufacturer

If you don’t have a VPN you can always see international search results here using this site:

(Please Note: We use a VPN which makes Google think we are in the USA for this search.)

What You Need To Notice About These Two Search Results:

  1. Alibaba and Global Sources do not appear on the first page for either of these keywords
  2. Lots of individual companies appear directly on this page – They are doing their own marketing, so they have beaten these platforms.

So What Should I do now?

Take the opportunity to invest in your own company and think carefully and get advice before spending money on other people’s marketing platforms.

  1. Invest in your own high-quality website with original, well written content, images and video.
  2. Use SEO and Google Ads to promote your own website, products, and services.
  3. Don’t work with the same marketing company as your competitors!
  4. Make sure your website does not look the same as that of your competitors.

How Can I Find A Company To Help Me?

  1. Get opinions and advice from at least three marketing companies before you decide what to do.
  2. Do not go with the cheapest option, look at the quality, service, and reputation. You will be working with the company for a long time, so don’t be rushed into a decision by pushy salespeople.
  3. Ask for reference customers and call them to find out about the company you are considering working with.
  4. Check the Google reviews for the companies on Google maps.

To find out more about marketing platforms and other marketing topics please visit our marketing blog.

If you would like our marketing consultant to discuss your business requirements and goals with you to see if we can help you do better, please contact us.

Nick Vivian
Nick Vivian

I am a UK citizen and I first came to Taiwan in 1989, My family is Taiwanese and Taiwan is my permanent home.

I have been working on marketing strategy for local companies since 2005, managing website planning video production and content creation for customers in many different industries. I speak fluent Chinese and manage sales and marketing strategy for our customers.

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