Marketing is so much more than creating a Facebook page for your business and enlisting it on Google. There is a certain art and technique that comes with strategic marketing that most of the time is only accomplished by experts in the field of advertising. However, every type of business has its own different nooks and crannies that must be learned in order to create effective marketing campaigns. Fortunately, besides marketing experts, you can also rely on advice given from veteran investigators who have done their own marketing. To help you out, here are the top 10 marketing tips for PIs from experienced investigators, so that you can indulge in the best-kept marketing secrets.
No. 1: Stay in Touch with Attorneys and Law Firms
As most clients that come your way are more than likely going to be using the findings of your investigation within a courtroom, it’s a smart approach to reach out to attorneys and law firms offering them your services. If the attorneys themselves do not need your services directly, they could recommend you to their clients so that you may dig up some information that is needed.
These types of referrals are some of the strongest types of word of mouth recommendations, because they come from other professionals who your clients trust and take into consideration for advice. To get in touch with attorneys or law firms, you could visit them directly or let yourself be known by attending attorney events or conferences, where you can educate them on the type of services you offer. By letting them know what you could do for them, or their clients, you have a higher possibility of building bonds and growing professional relationships that will eventually lead to new clients. This is perhaps one of the best marketing tips a PI could receive, so it’s worth considering it, especially if you are just starting out as an independent private investigator.
No. 2: Create an Approachable and Professional Image
It’s hard to avoid thinking of an Inspector Gadget type-of-look when it comes to private investigators. Although most private investigators don’t actually wear a fedora and a trench coat, it’s important to keep in mind that image is important for all professions and being a private investigator is not an exception.
You think your image is not marketing? Think again. According to marketoonist Tom Fishburne, “the best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.” Although you may think your clients don’t look too much into your clothes and general attire, it’s actually quite the opposite. The right type of attire helps your clients to feel more confident about hiring your services simply because you may look like a person who is well put together and would in turn translate that type of organization into your investigation. Never underestimate the power of first impressions, and the weight that a good outfit carries.
No. 3: Create a Physical Business Presence
One of the most important things that portrays reliability and trustworthiness from a private investigator is having a physical address. It’s not uncommon for private investigators to not have a physical office, because they can simply meet a prospective client at a café or in a restaurant. However, an office demonstrates stability for a business. If a private investigator has a permanent business location, then it means they have continuous business, which in a client’s mind translates as having a reputation, experience and stability as a professional business.
Offering office space also allows your clients to meet in a private place without any distractions, where they would feel more open to discussing their needs, worries and a situation more in detail, whereas they may be a bit more hesitant to discuss full details of a case in a public location.
No. 4: Engage Online Users
This marketing tip is not in reference to creating social media accounts for your business, because that’s sort of a given task that every business has to do nowadays. However, the important takeaway is that once you do create your social media profiles, that you create content that evokes professionalism, experience and interesting information that will keep your users engaged.
Online user engagement is important because it opens the doors to quick recommendation from users who may not even need your services, but are familiar enough with your online presence that they know who to recommend if they hear of someone in need of your services. Social media presence is where everyone runs to for business recommendations, but if your profiles are not kept-up or they haven’t been updated in a long time, you will give the impression that your business is either not currently functioning or not offering any worthwhile services.
No. 5: Offer Risk Management Services
A great marketing tip for private investigators is to not stick to just private investigation for firms or individuals. There are many different services that come naturally as a side niche of private investigation, such as risk management services for companies, which could prevent them from being sued in the future. In order to approach this type of business, you can choose a niche of specialty, such as the industrial, economic, food, etc. and focus on offering services with an expertise that suits your likes and previous experience.
Helping a business to recognize their weaknesses can help them mitigate the chances of assorted losses from an underdeveloped risk management strategy. Your skills and professional assessment will help businesses to create emergency protocols, apply strategies to minimize personal injury amongst employees, and assess product liability. This is a service you could advertise during an attorney conference or event, or use it as an excuse to approach a firm to build a relationship.
No. 6: Focus on a Niche
While being a jack of all trades can be good for knowledge, it’s always best to specialize in a specific niche that will allow you to reach out to businesses in the need of your specialty. This can help your marketing strategy greatly, as you will be able to target a niche-oriented audience who will be more likely to hire your services rather than someone who is just exploring.
If you choose to specialize in family dispute investigations, this will allow for law firms who also specialize in family law to look in your direction if your services would ever be needed. If this is the case, look for attorneys who specialize in divorces, child custody or wills. However, if your interest is more focused towards fraud and criminal investigation, you would do better by approaching businesses. Either way, your niche should be reflected across all of your social media platforms and other types of advertising.
No. 7: Join a PI Association
Oftentimes, prospective clients resort to finding their private investigators by browsing through private investigation directories found online, such as the one by PI Alliance International website, where distinguished investigators can join to have access to clients all over the world. Joining a PI Association, such as PI Alliance International, is important because these organizations take the time to review each private investigator carefully so that they only have legitimate investigators as part of the associations, who are trained and certified professionals.
Being a part of a PI association or organization will also help you to connect with other private investigators around the world, who may refer clients to you if they are contacted by someone who requires an investigation that is out of their area of expertise. In cases where you may also need a hand from an investigator in a different states or country, having such connections is always helpful and can be a huge asset for your business.
No. 8: Let Prospective Clients Know What’s in it for Them
This marketing tip is oriented towards education. In some professions, such as the field of private investigation, without the appropriate spread of information about what an investigator can do, people in general stick to thinking that private investigators are just to be used to recreate an episode of Cheaters.
When the general public is educated about what you could do for them in certain situations, they know that you are the person to go to when a situation comes up. This is where social media aids in spreading information about your services, your field of expertise and your professional image.
No. 9: Flyers and Business Cards
Physical advertising is something that goes hand in hand with every single marketing tip given before. You can’t show up to an attorney’s office, a law firm or an event without having flyers and business cards with you on hand. Just giving someone your phone number to save on their mobile is simply not the type of approach a professional private investigator wants to take.
While business cards help your professional image, flyers can provide education that showcases your services, career trajectory and fields of specialty. The literature that comes in flyers provides some extra marketing that will contain more space to help others understand what exactly it is that you do and what you can offer them. Having both flyers and business cards ready on hand is a great way to maintain your professional image in case you run into the chance of talking about your business outside of your area of work.
No. 10: Hire an SEO and Marketing Expert
Although these tips give you the 101 on marketing essentials for investigators, unless you really work hard at your marketing game and get a feel for it, you will most definitely need an SEO and marketing expert who will help to upkeep all of your social media profiles and create the branding that you need as a professional private investigator or that your PI business requires.
If the expenses that come with hiring a marketing expert scares you, do not fret! To get affordable marketing, you can take the route of hiring a freelance marketing expert or a newly graduated marketing student. You can reach out to local colleges or universities for a list of recommended graduates or you can do a quick search online for freelance marketing experts. This is perhaps the most important marketing tip, as this will help to define the branding that will get you the clientele you want to work with and that will promote your business. If you’re interested in finding out more about joining a private investigation group or association, you can reach out to PI/Alliance International, where you can learn more about the benefits of being a part of this global organization and get more tips about how to grow in the field of private investigation.