10 Marketing Tips for PIs
- May 04
- by Stephanie Irvine
A lot more goes into private investigation than the actual investigating. In order to be successful, you have to run a business which comes with its own set of challenges. You have to market your services, for example. Private investigators offer a unique service and are unlike other businesses, which might leave investigators questioning how to market their business. However, as unique as PIs are, many traditional marketing tools can still be used when applied to the proper target market. Some of these tools are listed below as well as advice from other investigators.
1. Business cards
This might be a no-brainer, but be sure to always have professional business cards printed and ready for distribution. The one time you don’t have business cards on you will inevitably be the time you talk to someone about doing business, which could make an unprofessional first impression. Eliminate that possibility by always having business cards printed and with you.
2. Freebies or swag
The cheap but useful items that you give away to prospective clients, whatever you want to call them, are a great way to keep your name physically in front of your client. As a general rule, the freebies you give your clients should at least have your business name or logo printed on them. If there is room to have contact information visible, that should be included as well. Everyone loves free stuff, whether it’s t-shirts, mugs, coasters, water bottles, stickers, pens, keychains, mousepads, calculators, food, you name it! Whether you are a professional with years of experience or an industry newcomer looking for ways to snag your first clients, combining a well-written introduction letter with a freebie is a great way to connect with potential customers.
3. Visit your target clients
By physically visiting the office of prospective clients, you might score some time with the decision-maker who hires PIs or find out who that is and schedule a time to talk with them. When you visit, many PIs suggest bringing a treat whether it’s donuts in the morning, candy, or even something as simple as water, if they don’t have a water cooler in the office, of course, to accompany the business card. While a firm handshake is nice, treats make you memorable.
4. Sponsor events
Sometimes, it does take spending a little money to make money. In this case, sponsoring a legal or paralegal event can offer a great return on your investment. Consider covering the cost of catering or offering monetary sponsorship for a local association event. As a sponsor, you can request a few minutes to talk, hang a company banner, or supply pens and notepads printed with your contact information to attending members. Sponsoring events is a great way to present your company to several attentive attorneys at once, which can have a huge impact on your business.
5. Get involved with community events
Donating a prize for a contest, drawing, or raffle or hosting a local race can help you reach out to potential clients at a community event. Being an active member of your community can create goodwill and help your firm gain exposure through word-of-mouth advertising. You may also consider utilizing your expertise to teach a public safety, self-defense, or basics of home surveillance course to community members.
6. Take on pro-bono work
Whether there is a missing person in the community, a tough case that a client has, or helping out a colleague, offering occasional pro-bono or volunteer time to work a case can prove to be beneficial not only because you did a good deed, but because it may leave a good impression and positive reputation. Not only can clients see how you work, but they also may want to give you business as a reward for your good deed. Just remember that ultimately you have a business to run, so be sure to charge for services for any subsequent work after the pro-bono job.
7. Send newsletters
Staying in touch with clients can be a great way to keep your name at the forefront of their minds while also giving potential clients important information on industry news and changes. Newsletters can be sent as frequently or infrequently as you want and by USPS or by email.
8. Maintain a blog
Take a cue from our top investigator bloggers and start your own private investigator blog. Whether you focus on technology, highlight specific services and cases, or offer your thoughts on breaking industry news, keeping a blog can help you gain exposure among potential clients and peers. As an added bonus, opportunities for guest blogging on other sites will expand your readership and client base.
9. Utilize social media
Social media presents a great opportunity to network with colleagues and find other ways to work. Join groups dedicated to the industry on different platforms to access networking opportunities, learn, and grow your knowledge. Additionally, it is important to keep any social media accounts for your business updated and current.
10. List on a directory
Finally, in order to put a professional foot forward, private investigators can advertise their services in directories like PInow or in the directories of related industry associations. Being listed in directories specifically for PIs will provide beneficial advertising when potential clients are searching for an investigator, and it will provide the opportunity to collaborate with fellow PIs. Also, most directories require a certain level of experience before PIs are eligible to get listed — so being part of a directory reflects that a investigator is a trusted professional.
Innovative marketing tactics can go a long way in creating new business opportunities, and as private investigators look for ways to rejuvenate their marketing strategies considering new ideas is a great start. There are an unlimited number of ways to get your business name out there, so take some time to brainstorm which introduction strategies work best for you. Ask new clients how they found your services to determine where you are experiencing marketing success, and don't be afraid to try something new. Looking for even more investigator input for how you can market your private investigations business? Check out what other investigators had to say about marketing.