With so much competition out there (I revealed in an earlier article that there are over 150 other computer support and repair companies in my county alone), I’ve started thinking about ways that I can stand out from the crowd. One crazy idea that I’d like to suggest, as a way for the average computer consultant to find a niche and stand out from the hundreds of other companies out there, is by targeting consumer electronics. How many people do you know own an iPod or other MP3 player? How many people do you know that own one of the three major video games consoles? These are hot items that are popping up all over the place. Take a look at these trends in consumer electronics ownership:
38 Percent of homes in America have a video game console, and the average age is 35, so these aren’t just kids!
As of 2005, 11% of American adults say they own an iPod.
That seems like a decent slice of the pie and the numbers will only grow with time.
So what does that mean to me? Consumer electronics are typically easy to use and serve limited purpose, so how can I provide services for users of these products? I’m not trained or authorized to fix the electronic components within these devices, so what can I do? Here are some scenarios:
- Set-up: You get a brand new shiny iPod for Christmas, but you are about as tech savvy as an artichoke. You use your computer to email friends, but that’s about it, and you’re not sure how to get songs from your existing CD’s onto the iPod. The next day you get a postcard in the mail advertising “iPod Installation”. Hallelujah! You give the company(me) a call. This one could be big right after the holidays.
- Training: You finally gave in and bought an Xbox 360 because you heard that it can connect to the internet and stream files from your home computer. When you get it set-up, you’re clueless how to make all of that stuff work. You search online for help and come across a local computer repair shop that specializes in one-on-one at home training on how to get the most out of your latest video game consoles. The price is less than 2 Xbox 360 games, so you figure it’s worth it, and shoot the guy(me) an email.
- Troubleshooting: You got the latest TiVo HD XL DVR box because you love MacGyver reruns, but they come on during the day while you’re at work. You set up everything but, no luck, it doesn’t work. Then, you remember seeing a flier on the bulletin board at the local grocery store advertising help with home theater devices, including DVRs. You return to the store to get the number and give the guy(me) a call to come over and take a look. I find out that the TiVo model you bought is not compatible with Satellite TV, so I recommend you return the TiVo, which is still under warranty, and help you find a DVR that would be compatible.
- Home Theater Consultation: You got a big bonus this year and you want to spend it on the latest and greatest home theater equipment. But there’s alot of stuff out there and you want to make sure you buy stuff that will work well together. You remember hearing about your neighbor’s computer consultant and how nice and helpful he is, so you go to his website and are delighted to see that he offers home theater consultation as well. He(I) comes over and works with you to make the best decisions in home theater equipment that will not only be compatible with each other, but also connect to your home wireless network to stream movies form your computer. He then returns to help you set everything up.
These are just a few scenarios in which I think adding consumer electronics would benefit my business, I’m sure there are many more. This strategy will add value and diversity to my service offerings, as well as set me apart form the competition a little bit. Plus, I’m a fan of these gadgets and I always keep up with the latest trends in consumer electronics, so why not try to help others with this knowledge?
Then again, I could be way off base with this. There may be no demand for this kind of service what-so-ever.
I want to hear from you on this one. If you’re already a computer consultant, let me know if you’ve offered these types of services before and how successful they’ve been. If you’re not a computer consultant, would you ever consider using this type of service?