What’s your marketing beta? | Subcontracting company

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In stocks, your portfolio’s investment risk is its beta. You can lower your beta by diversifying your portfolio. The same goes for your marketing. If you rely too heavily on any form of marketing, especially one that you don’t control, you are putting your business at risk.

In the bad old days of the Yellow Pages, The marketing plan for many entrepreneurs was to post a big ad in the yellow pages and wait for the phone to ring. If an entrepreneur got one of the top three positions, business was pretty much assured.

Of course, mistakes happened from time to time. Sometimes yellow pages representatives got the phone number wrong or even omitted it from the ad. Sip. A contractor lost his job for an entire year when reps changed and the new rep never called the contractor to renew his ad.

For an entrepreneur who relied on the yellow pages, missing the directory was devastating. It could literally put a business out of business. The entrepreneur who lost his job poured all the money into the yellow pages, then some into the broadcast media with a series of humorous advertisements promoting his business. It took months and months, but he finally 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-good memory, but there are even more pernicious gamers out there today. These are the lords of technology, who not only censor speech, but sometimes censor corporations. Do something unknowingly to irritate the bad snowflake in your twenties and your business may be banished to the digital backcountry.

Even if you don’t do anything to violate a single policy, the algorithm can change unexpectedly and everything that worked 24 hours ago falls flat. Your search engine marketing dies. Your search engine optimization is fading.

Fake review

Then there are fake review spam. More and more small businesses are reporting a deluge of fake negative reviews. Reports are not limited to contracting companies and locations are not limited to the United States. It’s a global problem. A business owner falls asleep on top of the world and wakes up to dozens of 1-star reviews popping up overnight.

Sources of reviews are difficult to identify as reviews may be anonymous. It could be the work of competitors, ex-employees, a single disgruntled customer, or even a reputation management company approaching the owner, offering help in getting reviews removed.

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

The answer to bad reviews, of course, is to solicit enough good reviews to crush the bad ones. It works when you’re fighting one or two legit bad reviews, but 50 in one night? The best you can do is post a humorous response to the reviews, pointing out that they are illegitimate. Good luck.

If an act by a search engine, review site, or social media platform can significantly harm your business, your marketing beta is too high. You have to diversify your marketing. Diversify it into marketing that 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 build relationships with community centers of influence that aren’t just referral machines, but can help you when your reputation takes a hit. Get involved with the chamber of commerce. Join a prospect club. Be active in the community. Sponsor beloved charities.

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

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

Don’t overlook old school marketing which still works and may even work better as there is less competition with many entrepreneurs going digital. Pack your trucks the right way. Send direct mail, including shelf 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 35e and the youngest person to be inducted into the Contracting Company 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.

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