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What’s Your Marketing Beta?

July 8, 2022
Diversify your marketing and sleep better at night.

In stocks, your portfolio’s investment risk is its beta.  You can lower your beta by diversifying your portfolio.  The same holds with your marketing.  If you rely too much on one form of marketing, particularly one you do not control, you are putting your company at risk.

In the bad old days of the yellow pages, many contractors’ entire marketing plan was to take out a big yellow pages ad and wait for the phone to ring.  If a contractor secured one of the first three positions, business was practically assured.

Of course, mistakes did happen from time to time.  Sometimes the yellow pages reps got the phone number wrong or even left it off the ad.  Gulp.  One contractor lost his position for an entire year when reps changed and the new rep never called on the contractor to renew his ad.

For a contractor who relied on the yellow pages, missing the directory was devastating.  It could literally bankrupt a business.  The contractor who lost his position, poured all of the money dedicated to the yellow pages into broadcast media, with a series of humorous ads promoting his business.  It took months and months, but eventually he recovered the lost call volume.  While he continued to use the yellow pages, he never allowed himself to become dependent on the directory again.  When he was all-in on the yellow pages, his marketing beta was too high.

The yellow pages may be a not-so-fond memory, but there are even more pernicious players today.  These are the tech overlords, who not only censor speech but occasionally censor businesses.  Unknowingly do something to irritate the wrong 20-something snowflake and your business can be banished to the digital hinterlands.

Even if you do nothing to violate a single policy, the algorithm can unexpectedly change and everything that worked 24 hours ago, falls flat.  Your search engine marketing dies.  Your search engine optimization fades.

Fake Reviews

Then there’s fake review spam.  More and more small businesses are reporting a barrage of fake negative reviews.  The reports are not limited to contracting companies and the locations are not limited to the United States.  This is a global problem.  A business owner goes to sleep on top of the world and wakes to scores of 1-star reviews that appeared overnight.

The sources of the reviews are difficult to finger since the reviewers can be anonymous.  This could be the work of competitors, former employees, a single disgruntled customer, or even a reputation management company that solicits the owner, offering help in getting the reviews removed.

Every tech behemoth has a process for getting fake reviews removed and it seems that in most cases the process is unresponsive and unaccountable.  Even when the reviews are obvious fakes, business owners report challenges getting them removed.

The answer to bad reviews, of course, is to solicit enough good reviews to overwhelm the bad.  That works when you are combatting one or two legitimate bad reviews, but 50 in a single night?  About the best you can do is post a humorous response about the reviews, pointing out they are illegitimate.  Good luck.

If an act by a search engine, review site, or social media platform can significantly damage your business, your marketing beta is too high.  You need to diversity your marketing.  Diversify it to marketing you can control.

Start by getting involved in your community.  Join a service club.  Encourage others in your company to join different clubs.  This helps you establish relationships with community centers of influence who are not only referral machines, but who can help you when your reputation takes a shot.  Get involved with the chamber of commerce.  Join a leads club.  Be active in the community.  Sponsor beloved charities.

Charitable sponsorships do not necessarily cost money.  Establish affinity marketing programs where you give to a charity when a charity patron supports your business.  It’s a win for everyone.

Build your email and text based marketing lists.  These are important because they represent a direct connection with your customers and prospects.

Do not overlook old school marketing that still works and may even work better since there’s less competition with many contractors moving to digital.  Wrap your trucks the right way.  Send out direct mail, including radius marketing.  Take out strategic billboards.  Use targeted cable and digital music services that can target based on a listener’s address.

 Becoming dependent on big tech is as risky as becoming dependent on big yellow.  Diversify your marketing and sleep better at night.

 Matt Michel is president of Service Nation Inc.  He is the 35th and youngest person to be inducted into the Contracting Business Hall of Fame.  Contracting Business Magazine named him one of the “22 most influential people in the history of the residential HVAC/R industry.”  He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 214.995.8889.

About the Author

Matt Michel | Chief Executive Officer

Matt Michel was a co-founder and CEO of the Service Roundtable (ServiceRoundtable.com). The Service Roundtable is an organization founded to help contractors improve their sales, marketing, operations, and profitability. The Service Nation Alliance is a part of this overall organization. Matt was inducted into the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame in 2015. He is now an author and rancher.