Is it: Google Adwords? Is it Facebook? Is it print advertising in the local paper? Is it posting items on Craigslist? Or is there a secret sauce that’s not visible at first glance? After running my computer repair store TVH Computers for the past eight years, I like to think I have a clue. Running a computer store in 2022 has been especially crazy, and it has shown me more than ever, how to best market a small computer repair store. Either way, there are things that clearly work, and others that clearly don’t, and I am going to share with you the marketing efforts that have had the greatest impact on my business.
The lowest barrier to entry form of advertising that you can do, especially when you are starting out, is a free marketplace such as Craigslist, or any of its competitors such as Facebook Market, OfferUp, and LetGo. This is the type of platform that your average Joe uses to sell their old, unwanted items.
You will often find businesses using these markets to advertise their businesses in one way or another. Additionally, you can post things like jobs, services, and products for sale. Craigslist was the very first form of advertising that I found to be effective for my business, and I still use it to this day. Obviously, it has its drawbacks and is not viable once you grow beyond a certain level. In my experience, my business has stayed at the sweet spot where I don’t rely on it to bring in new business, but people do find my ads and end up calling my store to inquire about something, whether it be buying a refurbished computer, or getting their old computer fixed.
Craigslist works for me in a peculiar way. I typically make one or two posts a week in the used computers section to sell my slow-moving inventory, and what ends up happening is people see these ads and notice that I am a business. They then call to inquire about fixing their old computer instead of buying another one. Even though they went online looking to replace their computer, they find out that I can upgrade their old one for much less money. This puts more money in my pocket in the form of higher profit margins, and it keeps money in the customer’s pocket, in the form of them paying less to get their computer fixed.
This section is no longer relevant for Google in particular since they changed their policy to ban computer repair from the platform. However, you can still keep some of the practices in mind for services like Bing and Yahoo ads.
Once you find that you are not getting any new leads using free marketplaces, it is time to consider paid advertising. This is where search engine marketing comes into play. With search engine marketing, you want to accomplish a few things: get people to visit your website, get people to call you, or just get them to come straight to your store. Running an effective Google Adwords campaign accomplishes all of this.
To use Adwords, you need to understand what keywords are. Keywords are words or phrases that people type in Google search, which trigger your ad to appear. By bidding on the right keywords for your business, you can show up in the top results when potential customers are searching for your services on Google. If you are advertising with Adwords, and you have the keywords “laptop repair”, “computer repair near me”, or “refurbished computer” then your business will show up whenever someone searches for those terms on Google. Regardless of the quality of your SEO or how well your website ranks on its own, your ad will be displayed before any organic search results.
One of the greatest parts about Google Adwords is that you are in control of how much you want to spend. Adwords will only charge you when someone actually clicks on your ad. Whatever amount you bid on each keyword is the maximum that you will spend for each click. No matter how many clicks you get, the goal is to get conversions, which is when someone takes another step beyond making that first click, such as visiting your website, calling your business, or getting directions to your store. In my personal experience, setting a budget of $10 per day leads to hundreds of clicks, but only about 30 actual conversions per month. This is still very good, as about half of those conversions end up spending at least a little bit of money in my store, more than covering the cost of acquisition.
Marketing on Facebook comes in many forms. There are a few things you need to take care of to have an effective Facebook strategy. The first is to make sure you have a complete business profile. This means you have photos of your business, your hours and location are listed, and you link to your website. Once you have done this, you can get your first few likes by inviting your friends to like and share your page. From this point, it is just a matter of posting content frequently and consistently. Post things like pictures of your store, products, or you and your team. Facebook is for letting your customer base get to know your business on a more personal level, and by letting you into their newsfeeds, they are opting in to receive news and updates about your business. So don’t waste their attention spans on trying to advertise constantly. When you make a post, try and give more than you get, by making it informative and entertaining. Save the selling for a handful of posts a month.
What do you do when you simply aren’t getting anything from your business page? Yes, your friends and family may have dropped a like, but this isn’t bringing you any new business. Sure you can drive your existing customers to your page by telling them about it in-store and asking them to follow you. At some point, it makes sense to try out paid advertising on Facebook.
What makes Facebook particularly useful for the small business, is you can spend as much or as little as you want, and the exposure your ads get will reflect how much you spend on them. What makes it even better though, is the level of granularity with which you can target your ads.
Facebook allows you to create a custom audience based on multiple factors, such as location, age, gender, likes, and interests. Creating an ad to target everyone in a 10-mile radius will show your ad to anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand people in your local area depending on what you set the daily budget to. In my particular case, I have found I get the most traction by setting my audience to everyone between the age of 30 and 65, with a location within a 10-mile radius of my business. This is broad enough to not be too small and yet specific enough that my ad is not being overpowered by other ads being run by a global company with a larger budget. How much do I spend each month on Facebook ads? Between $60 and $100. This is a small price to pay if I get one or two real customers out of it. Allocating even more money to a Facebook campaign can lead to even better results, but it is something that you should start small, and tweak over time to see what works for your situation.
When you do your job properly and meet expectations, you will gain a happy customer. When you exceed expectations, you will gain a customer for life. But there is a bonus that you get when you exceed expectations, and that is that your customers will remember you and spread the word about your business. This is called word-of-mouth marketing.
It is not something that happens immediately and in fact, is the most long-term form of marketing that you can do. It is difficult to quantify results when talking about word-of-mouth marketing, however, if there is only one form of marketing you pursue for your business, it should be word-of-mouth.
Statistics don’t lie, and Investopedia claims the simple fact that 92% of consumers trust their friends over traditional media. This means when one of your clients tells their friend about what a great job your store did at fixing their computer, they are much more likely to believe them and remember this as opposed to if they see an ad for your business somewhere else.
Consumers will often trust other consumers as well when they are considering a product or service. You can leverage this fact by obtaining positive reviews. If you have a few dozen five-star reviews, and a potential client is considering your business versus another business with no reviews, the presence of these reviews makes their ultimate decision easy.
I can’t remember how many times a new customer has come into my store and the first thing they said is they decided to choose my store because of how many glowing reviews they read online. Your reviews really are a valuable asset in building your word-of-mouth marketing strategy. Incentivizing reviews and referrals can work in some cases, such as offering a discount to a friend, or a coupon.
However, in my experience, I have never asked for reviews or offered anything for them, as I feel this builds distrust. You want all of your reviews and referrals to be a natural side effect of you exceeding expectations. If you consistently under-promise and over-deliver in your work, you will find that a buzz will start growing in your local community about what a professional and reliable company you are, and the rest is history.
Word-of-mouth is by far the most effective marketing for a computer repair store.
Check out the accompanying video to this article below
Thinking about getting a job as a computer technician? Check out my article here.
If you’re not sure if you have what it takes to be a computer tech, check out my article where I talk about that in more detail here.
Always wanted to start your own computer repair store? Check out my book here.