Branding and Marketing Your Investigations Company
Editor's note: The below information was garnered from a slideshow presented by Tom Shamshak of Shamshak Investigative Services and Boston University's Certificate in Professional Investigation program. It has been edited for this format by PInow.
Finding Your Niche
What is a niche?
A niche, also known as a target market, is a group of potential customers who share common characteristics, making customers especially receptive to your service.
Common niches of private investigators
While many investigators focus on a single niche market, others will have other specialties. Below are common niche markets for investigators.
For more data on specialties, read The 10 Most Common Specialties of Private Investigators.
How do I find my niche?
Focusing on a single area of expertise that will help you create your own identity and increases the probability of getting more business. Consumers prefer businesses that specialize.
First, ask yourself. . .
- Who are you?
- Who is your competition?
- Is there an untapped market?
- What are you offering?
- Who are your prospects?
- What are your best skills?
- What is your passion?
- Where would you fit in?
- Where would you not fit in?
Then, identify. . .
- Your competitors
- Benefits of your services
- How you spend most of your waking hours
- What your competitors are doing right and wrong
- How you will fill a void in the marketplace
- Whether you can reach and develop prospects
- Whether your prospects will pay for your services
Once you've selected a niche, ask yourself . . .
- Is this niche something I know how to do?
- Can I do it well?
- Is this something I like to do and would not mind doing day after day?
Consider the effect on your finances
- Is this something with a broad enough appeal to sell on a steady basis?
- Can it be sold at a price that will cover all of your expenses and overhead plus return a profit?
- Can you raise enough funds to start the business?
Developing Your Marketing Plan
A marketing plan helps you define who your clients are, what you are selling, what your target market is, and how your clients are segmented. It will also give you the opportunity to identify whether your market is steady, growing, or declining.
In preparation for creating your marketing plan, you will need to gather information and data.
- Gather market research
- Analyze the competition
- Focus on the prospective client
- Identify a plan of action for promoting your business to your clients
- Research a pricing strategy to implement
- Define a budget
Once you've gathered the above the information, you will need to outline the components of your marketing plan. Below are some action items to focus on.
- Define the business
- Define the clients
- Define the advertising plan
- Define the advertising budget
- Determine the overall promotional objectives
Focus on Targeted Advertising
Create a communication strategy for getting in front of your target market and determine a budget for website, networking, public relations, social awareness, print media, radio, and television and, once implemented, track the response.
- Post cards
- Press Releases
- Self promotion
- Media publicity
- Activism and volunteering
- Employee manners, attire, attitude, etc.
Branding your Agency
Corporate identity is crucial to care and growth of your business. Corporate image refers to how a firm is perceived.It is a generally accepted image of what your company stands for.Tom Shamshak
Creating your corporate image
Creation of a corporate image is an exercise in perception management; it suggests a mental picture to the public. A successful corporate image needs to be believable and accurately reflect the company's product, services, values, and representatives. A company name, logo, and tagline help establish and reinforce your agency image.
When naming your agency, ask yourself . . .
- What can I glean from an agency's name?
- What type of services does the name imply my agency provides?
- What is my initial impression based solely on the name?
Creating the identity package
Branding your agency with an identity package helps you maintain your position in the marketplace. Take the time to set down rules about how, where, and when your logo and business will appear to the public.
Do I need to rebrand my agency?
- Does my brand need to be changed?
- Is a makeover necessary?
- Am I happy with the trajectory of my business growth?
- Do I have the right professional traction?
Your corporate identity package defines the spacing, styles, colors, fonts, margins, and images for:
- Logo: a combination and written and graphic elements that present the business name.
- Tagline: a phrase or motto that further defines a market or benefit of your company.
By setting standards you are assured that your brand collateral is always displayed correctly in any medium or communication tool.
Selecting your business cards
Your business cards will be kept by . . .
- Prospective clients
- Other professionals
Make sure your cards are . . .
- Printed on high quality paper
- Accurately represent your business
- Provides contact information
- Displays appropriate credentials
Remember to always carry your business cards with you and distribute them when opportunities for potential business and promotion come about.
Branding Yourself as an Expert
Seek opportunities to be a guest on radio, local cable accesss, main stream TV news, national cable news shows, and reality shows.Tom Shamshak
Partner with the Media
Cultivate a relationship with reporters from print, television, radio, and online media. Media exposure increases brand recognition.
When dealing with reporters, remember:
- Don't get burned
- Know who you are dealing with
- Understand off the record statements and disclosures
- Control the message
Be proactive, not reactive. Tweet with ideas, thoughts, and suggestions. Pitch your cases to local media for tips, leads, and resolution.
Write an article
Another way to partner with the media is to write an article. First, define your audience and select a magazine or publication you would like to have your article featured in. Prepare your queries, write the article, and find ways to recycle the content.
Be active in an organization
Being active in an organization creates social awareness, and it's also a way to feel good about what you are doing. Through social causes, you will meet additional people, gain more experience, build your credentials, and enhance your reputation.
More information: how to become a private investigator.
About Tom Shamshak
Tom Shamshak is the Program Director and lead instructor for Boston University's Certificate in Professional Investigation, featured on PInow's Top 25 Investigator Training and Education Programs. He is a retired Police Chief and licensed private investigator with 33 years of investigative experience, and has been featured on CNN's Nancy Grace and ABC's 20/20. His company, Shamshak Investigations, services the Boston and Providence areas.