So many contractors I talk to today have cut or reduced most of their marketing and now rely heavily on their free listing in Google Places to generate new business. But something keeps gnawing at me and I can’t help but wonder if Google isn’t setting them up for the big kill someday soon.
Here’s what I think may happen
If you too rely heavily on the 7-Pack for your current crop of leads, I am betting you are a guinea pig for Google and you don’t even know it. You see, I think your current success using the free service is a beta test for the all-seeing Google, and right now they are calculating and tabulating and measuring exactly how much traffic you are generating from their love, only to one day turn around and use it to crush you into a fine powdery dust. Think I’m crazy? Just check out how spiteful Google is when you tell them to F-off here and here. And watch what happens to Groupon‘s search results if they don’t soon come around and take the payday offered by the all-powerful Oz.
You see, Google speaks out of both sides of their PR mouths
Google has always claimed to be nothing more than a search provider, then they got into advertising with Adwords. And they continued to say they would never be content providers, only to introduce us to Knol, may it rest in peace. Finally, we all know Google has every intention of becoming more and more involved in our lives, regardless what they say in press clippings.
But how does this impact you?
Let me paint the doomsday scenario for you. Google has $33 billion in CASH sitting around doing nothing. Now, most companies spend excess cash in one of four ways:
1. Pair down debt – Google has none to speak of.
2. Buy back stock – The price isn’t low enough yet.
3. Acquire competitors – Who else is there?
4. Acquire companies in vertical markets – Here’s where the fun begins.
Let’s say Google goes on a spending spree and decides to buy Sears for their home improvement division. Now Google has a home services provider with a nationwide footprint to service YOUR clients or customers. All of a sudden, your Google Places page is 300 pages deep, never to be heard from again. In its place you now see ads for your local Sears location. Sounds crazy? Wal-Mart has been trying to win approval to start a bank in order to reduce their credit card processing fees, and they will eventually get it. So nothing is too out there.
But let’s say I am being too forward thinking. Let’s say instead, Google offers exclusive advertising arrangements with large regional home improvement companies to get all the leads for a particular vertical for a fixed price. Still sound far-fetched? It’s not, and it is coming to a theater near you. It may not be exactly as I described, but there will be something like it soon I promise you.
How to fight the fight?
You still have to market your business. You have to know that advertising (even in a down economy) is still the best way to assure your company’s survival. And by not marketing your contracting company falls further and further out of sight, leaving you to depend more and more on a shrinking market of referrals while previous customers move on to other contractors – not a good place to be.
Photo Credit: Tangi_Bertin