Although there are of course many key elements of a successful business, none are arguably any more important than marketing and sales. As such, to our existing and future private investigation client base, we offer the following thoughts.
As you update or develop an overall marketing plan, these are not the only things to incorporate but they are worthy of consideration…..
- Identify your competitive advantages in the market – Do you have a great track record handling a specific investigation market or within a specific geographic area? Is your staff particularly experienced? Is the staff heavily represented by ex-law enforcement or ex-military? There are a myriad of possibilities here….but it is key to understand the basis on which you will compete. Once you have identified your competitive strengths/niche, reinforce those (few) specific points consistently throughout your marketing efforts (sales pitches, website, brochures, request for proposal submissions etc.)
- When choosing a prospective customer target to pursue, allocate your time wisely – In addition to the obvious “likelihood of success” variables, consider the most competitive accounts also tend to facilitate lower pricing levels and have long sales cycles (although the volume can of course leverage fixed costs and help a bit with margins). Do not be afraid to also follow the “road less travelled” and identify business niches and customers not so intensely pursued. Spend the time to research and identify prospects. Litigation law firms, companies that historically have not bid work out and handle things internally and new industries whose processes are not yet evolved all are likely to pay a fair price for quality work.
- Demonstrate your leverage of technology in the business – Since technology can offer controls, efficiencies and consistency, more and more clients today (particularly larger clients) are impressed when you can demonstrate you incorporate it in your business. Some clients might say it is a pre-requisite. They want to know you can efficiently grow and have strong measures in place that will not be obsolete in the near future. You can demonstrate this in everything from addressing it in marketing presentations to your case management software to a user friendly and evolved website.
- Understand your true costs for each investigation service offered (such as litigation support, video surveillance, security, workman’s comp investigations, other etc.)– This is, surprisingly, often not done adequately by investigators. Yet it is a critical element of an evolved marketing plan. It does several things for you in addition to the accounting benefits….(a) when you compare each service’s true costs to the respective fee/billing amounts, you can identify on which services you really make money and what you might focus on and (b) if you have many prospects in an area of low margins, it can tell you where you need to develop more efficient processes.
- Demonstrate and incorporate the importance of discretion, professionalism and being responsible into everything – If there were ever a business where trust and being responsible is critical, the investigation business is it. Make certain your marketing prospects know you understand that and how seriously you take that.