How to Market Your Private Investigation Firm to Attorneys
- July 06, 2011
- by PInow Staff
Just like most service providers, private investigators sometimes have to go directly to potential clients instead of waiting for people to discover them. The direct approach gives you more control over your search for new clients, and it allows you to target exactly who youd like to work for.
PInow.com asked members of its LinkedIn group for investigators about how they market their business to attorneys, since law firms are often a steady source of work for investigators. Heres what some group members had to say about tried-and-true methods that work for them.
We have been marketing to law firms (large & small) throughout the state (California) on a continual basis for over 30 years. We learned that signing up the sole practitioners was much easier than signing larger firms.
Also, traditional advertising to attorneys usually does not work effectively. More often find private investigators through referrals via other attorneys, attorney ListServs, MCLE events, etc.
We started out by cold-calling their offices (family law & litigation attorneys). It's very difficult, but it works in the long run.
Prior to marketing directly to attorneys, we started working for insurance companies but I quickly decided that I didn't like the fact the insurance industry dictated what rate they would pay me. I charge what I feel I am worth, not what someone else is willing to pay me! I stopped accepting insurance company bread crumbs and never looked back!
Having worked as an in-house investigator for a large law firm for a number of years I found the best way to connect with contract investigators was word of mouth. To what organizations does the investigator belong, any publications? You have to market yourself just like any expert. If youre a screw up then the word gets out fast. If you are professional you'll become known in the legal community as someone who can complete the task. Speak at Bar functions, stop by their waterhole holes, anything to get your foot in the door and once you're in do good work.
I know these days its hard to perform a service and not be paid. However I have found that if you offer to take on a case that the attorney is having the most difficulty with, for instance maybe to locate a certain witness or asset search etc. And you offer to do it for free just so you can show them how good of an investigator you are, and you are SUCCESSFUL. Chances are good they will give you another assignment. And this time you will be paid whatever your fee may be for your services.
Everyone has great ideas. I wanted to share one thing that has well worked for me in North Alabama and Middle Tennessee. The Attorneys have a mailbox somewhere in the Court House. Usually in the Clerks Office. I carry flyers with my card attached and place in each of their boxes. I then follow up with a phone call after a couple of days asking if they received my info. This cuts my cost of postage but reaches all of the Attorneys in that County. While delivering my flyers I make a point to meet the clerks there in the office and pass out a few cards. After all they have daily contact with the Attorneys and are a wealth of information on whats going on with the cases.
I agree that doing some work at no charge to show the Attorney your work is a Great idea and has worked out good for me.
Since I've just started my own PI agency, this is a topic I've been tackling and learning myself. I've only been operating "on my own now" for about 6 months. I do work predominantly for 3 types of clients: Attorneys, Businesses & other PIs.
Since the topic here is about Law Firms, I'll focus on that.
I contacted several attorneys and law firms I had done work for in the past, including some that I have known for over a dozen years. They knew me, and my quality of work, and started using me in my new firm.
I asked for referrals from these existing clients, and they started giving me some. I gave them a lot of my business cards, and when they talked to another attorney that needed my type of services, they handed out my cards. I got a couple of new attorney clients this way (as well as several business clients that had used the attorneys).
I know a couple of people I used to work with often who were investigators but have left the field (one is a sheriff now, one is retired, one is a business consultant, etc). I've asked them for referrals and they've been great at doing it when they get calls from their old clients for work. With some I have actually made "referral contracts" where they get a small referral fee for each new client they bring me (with a possibility of additional bonuses for new work the client gives me for the next year). That's been a heck of a source of new clients/business.
Now my newest tactic has been "cold calling", but in person. Whenever I am visiting a client, I make it a point to stop at another nearby law firm and drop off some cards/brochures and introduce myself. So far this has only netted one small case, but I have not been doing that part for long.
When I recently became certified to serve civil process in Texas and informed my attorney clients of the fact, that added a bunch of new business to the ball game. One comment was along the lines of they like that they can now go to one place to do a locate, then service, then possibly a background and/or asset search.
But make sure you provide stellar service: Jump through hoops, go above and beyond, answer those 9 PM calls, etc. Make them so dependent on you it will be impossible for another investigator to crack into that firm. And lawyers talk. Be their "secret weapon" they share with friendly colleagues.
Want to read more answers from group members or join in the conversation? Join the Investigator Marketing LinkedIn group and network with your peers from around the world.
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