Question MarksWhat’s in a name?  Nothing really, except the perception of the individual who sees it.  How is your “information” perceived?  Let’s define what we mean by information.  You have a company name, an address, an e-mail address, a website address, a website and your e-mail signature line.  Very often, this is how people first see you.  Whether it is a post on an industry message board, an introductory e-mail to a potential client, or an e-mail to a colleague, the importance does not change.
Does your company name say I am a professional?  Ask yourself these questions:  Does my company name roll off the tongue?  Is it too long?  Does it sound good?  Does it contain any topics or words that could be considered controversial?  Did you name your company after your favorite sports team (see our previous marketing blog)?  You may want to consider changing it.
Does your address say you are a professional?  Let’s be honest, it is very easy to spot a company that uses their home address as their office address.  While that is perfectly ok and very cost effective, it gives the perception of being “small time” and some would go as far as saying unprofessional.  Get a PO Box.  They are inexpensive, can boost your company image, and are extremely convenient if you decide to get traditional office space or move to a new office in the future.  There is no need to worry about mail being lost in transition, as it is already going to the PO Box.
The e-mail address is where most of the unprofessional offenders can be found.  What does the recipient of your e-mail think when they get an e-mail from JohnLovesSuzy@yeahoo.com, PI45816@gomail.com, or BadBoyBikeRider@bellysouth.net?  I will let you answer that one.  What is odd here is that companies have a website address, but they are not using the e-mail associated with the domain name.  Your best bet is to purchase a domain name for ten dollars, let’s say www.abcdinvestigations.com.   You can set up an e-mail account or multiple e-mail accounts for that domain for little to no cost.  Some domain name companies give you a 5-10 e-mail accounts for free, with a domain purchase.  Now your e-mail can be JohnSmith@abcdinvestigations.com or JohnLovesSuzy@yeahoo.com.   You have the option?  Which one looks more professional to you?
Think of your e-mail signature line as a billboard.  It should tell the whole story.  Who are you?  What do you do?  Where are you?  How do I contact you?  Why should I contact you?  This can be a great advertising avenue for a PI and some people do not take advantage of the opportunity with incomplete signature lines or just their name and phone number.  Follow this format:
Your Name:
Title
Company Name
Complete Address
Phone Number(s)
E-Mail Address
Website Address
Tagline or Phrase  (Example:  Specializing in Skip Tracing and Surveillance since 1999)

In order to achieve the above goals, you may have to go out and spend a little money.  Think about this:  How much money are you leaving on the table as a result of being perceived as unprofessional?
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