“Old boys' club”: Barriers to digital marketing in small B2B firms

Justina Setkute, Sally Dibb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
259 Downloads (Pure)


Despite the widely acknowledged benefits of digital marketing, many B2B SMEs have been slow to adopt these practices. These firms' characteristics and ways of working mean that digital marketing as practiced in B2C or in larger firms may be unsuitable. This paper aims to increase understanding about digital marketing in B2B SMEs, by examining the barriers they face and the digital practices that work for them. A qualitative research methodology is used to focus on these previously unexplored practices in small B2B firms operating with the oil and gas industry. The study identifies the internal and external factors linked to this B2B SME context that both influence and act as barriers to digital marketing practice. The distinctive pattern of marketing practices arising from this combination of factors and the limited role of digital marketing within it, are revealed. These insights extend the debate about digital marketing's use by showing empirically that a “one size fits all” ways of thinking about digital marketing is not appropriate for B2B SMEs. The implications for researchers and practicing managers are considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-279
Number of pages14
JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
Early online date7 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/


  • B2B marketing
  • Digital marketing
  • Marketing practice
  • SME marketing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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