Monday, August 02, 2010

Marketing woes

It's the eternal question: just how do you effectively market a discreet service? There's no point in being so discreet that potential clients can't find you but then I don't want to be plastered on the side of a bus either.

Recently, another PI firm made the news by being caught out (again) doing something of questionable legality. That's the third time in as many years.

Clearly the bad press the previous two incidents generated didn't put off another corporate client with, no doubt, deep pockets so perhaps it's true that bad press is better than no press.

Is it really the case?

What innovative marketing strategies should I be looking into apart from having my incompetence published for all to see nationwide?


  1. That all depends on the target audience. Are you looking to gain corporate clients or private clients? are you looking to get one off gigs, or rolling work flowing in? are you looking for surveillance or factual?
    Once you define your target market then you can work out how to get to them.

  2. Ha, that's part of the problem. Because there are many facets to the work of a PI and the reasons a client approaches us vary - defining the target market is not particularly an easy task.

    Ultimately, recurring clientele are preferable to one-offs - although one-offs probably bring in greater revenue per case.

    Sadly, unlike in other industries, word of mouth advertising probably doesn't play a great role. You don't see, for example, someone at a dinner party state "I'd hired XYZ Investigations who did a capital job in discovering Mary was fucking my best friend..." It just doesn't happen.

    Probably just as well.

  3. I am slowly getting my self in order to get my own firm off the ground here and am coming across similar issues that you have. Ideally I want to work for lawyers, accountants and auditors, so I will be tryin to attend thier profesion functions, thier netowrking events, and using thier trade magazines (also helps that I have old friends that are in all of those fields).
    I think one of the underlying difficulties of out profession with reference to marketing is, that by design we must be discrete. I suppose if we could land a corporate client where they were happy to trumpet the success of the case it would be good, but it wold be very hard to locate such a client in the first place.

    But the method you describe might work well for the corporate side of things, managers at a meeting/networking event/social function/training just idly talking about it. It is a long shot, but one can hope :)

  4. Yes, you see the nature of the problem.

    At the moment I am doing some specific targeting of legal professionals, ie barristers and solicitors, in order to try and get more ongoing work - although I'm trying to head more into the direction of criminal defence matters such as locating potential witnesses, interviewing and witness statements etc.

    I'm advertising in the local law society magazine and sending out greeting cards with my details to new lawyers (the mag lists them in a special section in the back).

    I guess you just have to keep trying different approaches as there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing, particularly in the investigations industry.