How the TV Repairman And I Launched His Business With A Craigslist Ad

Have you ever had an electronic device quit working?

You’ve felt that deep frustration, especially if it’s a device you depend on (especially if you depend on it more than you want to admit).

In our disposable American economy, it’s usually cheaper and more convenient to replace a defective printer or DVD player than to take/send it in for repairs. Not to mention what an incredible pain it is to deal with most customer support reps.

But when we’re talking about high-end televisions, that’s a different story. If you’ve dropped more than $500 on anything, you probably want to avoid having to shell out that money again. So, you have to weigh the cost benefit of getting it serviced over buying a new one.

Fortunately, there are highly-skilled technicians roving the local streets, doing house calls on broken TVs. The question is, how do you find them? Do you ask your friends? Do you Google them? Yelp? How do you know if you are calling a qualified, reputable, honest technician, and not a schmuck.

Now, let’s flip the question.

You’re a qualified, reputable, honest, independent TV repairman, trying to build a client base with no advertising budget. What can YOU do? You would prefer to work from personal referrals, but first you need clients to give you those referrals. So, where do you find your first clients with almost no budget?

Wilson Wells of InstallProsDirect found himself in that situation recently. He installs home theaters and repairs LCD and LED TVs in Southwest Florida. He had been subcontracting for other vendors, but needed to find some new clients of his own, but with no web presence, only a cell phone.

We sat down and looked at all his options, and decided that Craigslist would have the maximum impact for the least amount of advertising spend. The biggest challenge on Craigslist is getting your ad noticed and remembered in the flood of traffic that flows through that site. We knew we had to get it right the first time, and we did.

Holy Cow!!

Several days later, Wilson texted me with this report: “Holy cow my phone has been going crazy with people needing tv repair!”

We needed a home run, and we got it with this ad:

Wilson's Ad ScreenShot

(click to enlarge)

What kind of results?

The first day this ad ran, Wilson got 15 phone calls. That’s up from zero the day before. For a guy trying to get started, that’s a nice boost.

But the big win came a few days later. It turns out that there are websites you can visit when your TV poops out, and when you give your name, address, and phone number to them, they pass it along to service technicians in your area. Such a company saw the article and liked it so much that they called Wilson directly and asked him to be their representative across Southwest Florida.

Now, he gets 15 phone calls a day, every day.

What did we do to get him these results?

1. We identified his ideal target audience.

An old marketing axiom says that, if you try to appeal to everyone, you will appeal to no one. It’s important to be laser-specific about who is in your target audience, so we decided to pinpoint working dads between age 25 and 45. While there are people outside that window that also purchase LED/LCD TVs, these are guys who would also look for help on Craigslist. Certainly, we can widen the lens over time, but this was a relatively easy target.

2. We identified a point of pain and jabbed it.

Now, I don’t mean that to sound sadistic, but part of effective marketing is to not only find a need and meet it, but to make the need so uncomfortable for the consumer that they feel like they have to do something about it…now! Guys who spend top dollar for a TV are going to be guys who are upset by the idea of their TV suddenly failing when there is an “important event” on TV. We picked out a couple of “important events,” that would be especially painful for these guys: sporting events, especially pay-per-view events. Imagine the horror of having a group of guys over for the big fight and your big TV goes out. While that might not be mortifying to you, it’s important to understand what the end client feels. Get in his New Balance Cross Trainers for a few minutes, and let HIS pain guide your advertising.

3. We spoke the audience’s language.

We took a look at the type of marketing that gets results with this group of guys: beer commercials, snarky blogs, and movie trailers for action adventures with punchy one-liners. There’s a common theme, and it’s a type of buddy-humor where the reader feels like he is in on the joke. You can almost cut the testosterone in the air. There is a cool, confident edge in the tone. We’re guys and we all understand each other. We know the pain of having an expensive TV go down and we want answers…now. I don’t want to waste my day on the phone with some pasty-skinned nerd in a call center who asks me if my TV is plugged in. No, I want to talk to someone like me, a go-to guy who gets the job done, and maybe unloads a good, hearty belch when he’s done. Yeah, that’s the guy. That guy talks like me, gets my humor, and understands my problem.

Enter Wilson Wells.

(Oh, and we made sure to make fun of his name, which not only includes the reader in the joke, but reinforces Wilson’s name in his mind.)

4. We identified and answered their objections in advance.

This group of guys will come back to you with a couple of primary objections:

  • I can fix this myself
  • I don’t want to wait all day for a service tech to come
  • I don’t want to pay $50 for it
  • My TV isn’t broken right now

First, we told a story that most people can relate to – dad was a do-it-yourselfer, but just like our TV is more advanced than his, it’s also more fragile and more complicated. As guys, we know this because things dad used to fix in his own car now require a mechanic with a diagnostic computer. We tapped into the almost-mystical fear of opening up the back of the TV and possibly making things worse.

We also offered to waive the fee for people who mention the ad when they call (and we picked on the competition a little). Then, we demonstrated that Wilson comes at a scheduled time, not in a “window of time,” which is enormously frustrating for working people. Again, by pointing out a common frustration, we were able to make the reader feel like he’s in on the joke. Everyone has felt that pain.

Finally, we reminded them that TVs never break at convenient times, and they should keep Wilson’s contact information handy “just in case.” We even suggested that they print it out and tape it to the back of the TV (which is the first place you look when a TV fails, but it’s out of sight otherwise), which handles the problem of Craigslist ads dropping into oblivion over time.

5. We got them thinking about other things they want.

Guys who have expensive TVs in their homes are likely to want more advanced home theater equipment in their homes…maybe even a “man cave.” We tapped into that to get them thinking about other wants they might have, and show them that, by calling Wilson they move themselves closer to making those dreams a reality. He is capable of doing it, but if you don’t bring it up in their minds, they might not consciously decide to ask him about it on their own.

6. We repeated the contact information.

This is a ubiquitous practice in radio and TV, but so often we fail to do it in print, because we figure the reader can go back and find it if they want it. Maybe. But do they? Studies suggest that people only go back and re-read copy if they didn’t understand it the first time. Reinforcement through repetition always works, even in print. Reinforcement through repetition always works. Reinforcement through repetition always works.

What always works?

7. We wrote it in short bites.

While some people prefer to read every single word of an article in order to ensure complete understanding, most people feel like they are in too much of a hurry to take in every word. They scan the article for short bites: headlines, subheaders, and small paragraphs that look easy to digest. This audience in particular doesn’t want to wade through a thick block of text to find a phone number. If the text is broken up into small blocks, our subconscious accepts it as easy to read.

That being said, we had to make sure that every block of text led directly to the next and had value for the reader (or at least made him feel the happy serotonin flow that comes with humor). There has to be a reason for him to continue reading, and good copy keeps the reader engaged.

What always works?

Final thoughts.

I am so proud of Wilson and the success he is seeing from this ad, and I am so pleased to have been a part of kick-starting his new business.

If this article was helpful to you, please return the favor and share it. Somebody you know may be struggling with exactly this problem, and these simple tips could make the difference for them.

On the other hand, if you are marketing a small business of your own and you would like to find ways to advance your marketing strategies, let’s grab a cup of coffee (or a phone call) together. We can talk about where you are right now and where you’d like to go. I’d be glad to help. Let’s tell your story.

E-mail me at chadketchermedia (at) or find me on Facebook at

2 thoughts on “How the TV Repairman And I Launched His Business With A Craigslist Ad”

  1. Hey Chad, I shared this post on another platform because I liked it so much. Here are a couple comments I received from fellow marketers:
    “The ad was amazing… Right on target with the copy. Thanks for the share :)”
    “That is an awesome story!!”

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