Are you looking for new clients as the second half of 2021 is quickly coming to an end? There are plenty of opportunities with the right strategies! Let’s take a look at popular approaches that are showing real results this year.
Joining Local Business Groups (Yes, Even the Chamber of Commerce)
Many PIs may be hesitant about joining local business groups, such as the Chamber of Commerce, entrepreneur-focused groups, industry-specific groups, and so on. Some private investigators put a lot of value on their own privacy and anonymity while finding new cases. However, there are potential gold mines of new work to be found when networking with other businesses in your area.
Businesses that may be looking for a private investigation into employee problems or theft will be more likely to bring it up to PIs in person. Business groups, in fact, are an excellent way to find local partners while proving your own professionalism. And don’t forget word gets around – even if the business owners and managers at a particular meeting don’t need your services, they may mention you to other businesses if there’s a need. So grab a name tag, make sure you’ve got some extra business cards, and start signing up for events!
Visiting the Courthouse for Research
This is an old strategy that’s still effective and has gotten even easier in the digital era (physical visits may not even be necessary anymore, depending on how you like to operate). Head to your courthouse, look up the names of active local attorneys, especially business and criminal defense specialists. Specifically note the firms or attorneys that look like they have a large case load or are handling particularly complex cases. Much of this can be found from public records on cases!
When you have a list, contact the firms in question and offer your services with information on your skills and rates. Don’t be afraid to reach out in multiple ways, from email to a personal phone call. Always agree to an in-person meeting if the firm answers back.
Focusing on the Latest Local Listings
A lot of people looking for a PI for a private matter will, indeed, start by googling, “PIs near me” or something similar. That means it’s important to have a complete and active online profile for Google to easily find and display to them. Older directories like PINow still have their place, especially if they continue showing up on Google’s front page. However, it’s important to focus on newer listings that are very likely to help your business appear when first-time clients start searching. Google’s own Google My Business is particularly helpful these days.
When creating a local listing, fill out all fields possible and try to include a couple of images, even if it’s just the front of your office. More complete profiles have a better chance of showing up higher in search results.
Creating Effective Referrals
Referrals remain an excellent way for PIs to pick up new clients in discrete ways. It’s important to encourage your clients to refer your business to others as much as possible. While referral incentives aren’t a great match with the PI business (“$100 off your next case” doesn’t have a great ring to it), there’s still a lot PIs can do.
Start with a referral package after you have completed a job for a new client. It can include a follow-up email encouraging referrals, a website link, a pamphlet with your service listed, an extra business card for sharing, and so on.
Mastering Return Communication
First-time clients are often either very nervous or very busy. Either way, it’s important to get into direct contact with them quickly, preferably within just a few minutes. Fortunately, there are more ways to do that now than ever. Our smartphones can give alerts when we get voicemails. Email clients can send notifications for new emails even if you’re not currently in the app. Chat and messaging options allow for fast, casual contact that’s low risk for new clients. All these are helpful tools for reaching back to leads immediately rather than potentially losing them.
Getting your own professional content online and in front of eyeballs is often called “thought leadership” in branding. It’s a powerful tool for PIs, and you don’t have to worry about being a master wordsmith to pull it off. There are many local and national private investigator journals available online. Look into contacting them about a piece you want to write about in an area you specialize in – something you can give solid advice about in a straightforward manner.
Contact local newspapers and magazines about the potential of an interview as well. Many people are curious about how PIs work, and it could be a useful local interest piece if they are looking for space to fill.
The goal is to get your name associated with published content. If you are a published PI, people will be much more likely to reach out (or simply to recognize your name) when they need services of their own.
Remember, watching broad trends in business can often lead to more client opportunities. We saw this as COVID restrictions led to a flood of remote working situations, and employers worried about unseen employees. Any significant industry change may create new opportunities for PIs, so don’t forget to keep track of the industries you specialize in! Signup for our monthly OnGuard e-newsletter and we’ll be sure to keep you updated on the latest trends, too.