I have to say that the last few months have really put some perspective on me in regards to establishing a business and methods of marketing that I have tried. When I talked to a friend about opening up this business I remember telling him I was starting my own private investigation agency. In which he responded, that's a very niche market. Certainly, it is. I think out of all the lessons I have learned and continue to learn, that marketing seems to be one I continuously revamp over and over.
Figuring out my target audience was pretty big. I initially went to do background checks for businesses only to find out most small businesses were too small in regards to needing any checks and those that were medium to larger sized companies had a corporate policy that already existed in terms of background checks. I targeted staffing agencies as well as I figured that would be a great client base for background checks and investigations but most of them already used someone else or were not interested in screening their applicants.
I have had the most luck marketing my business to other law firms for litigation support and services along that line. At least the response is better as the services are better aligned with their purposes. I have found in Savannah, GA most of these law firms rarely use a private investigator for much.
Another strategy I've done is reach out to fellow private investigation agencies and individuals in the region to network with them in hopes I could get referrals and hopefully refer surveillance work to people in particular areas. I do receive about one to two phone calls today where I have networked in with someone in regards to business interests.
Content marketing and SEO has been my latest learning curve on establishing this website. I've read quite a few books such as content, inc and epic content marketing. Looking out at other successful businesses and websites I can see how this has been beneficial but it does take the investment of quite some time. Getting a lot of exposure by writing really quality content that answers peoples questions and allows the website to be referenced and easily found is a great way to establish a big internet footprint. I always try to get on and write a few helpful blog articles on problems I have ran across or things I hear clients run into. Hopefully in the long run this helps a few people out or attract them to my website in some form of fashion.
Learning Google Adwords was a big learning curve for me. I initially used Adwords Express out of ease but found it was far to broad and didn't allow me to actually target an audience. Now I use plain adwords and target an audience specifically looking to hire a private investigator. In this way I have found it was a better allocation of my money. Looking at Google Analytics, people now spend an average of 5 minutes or more on the site rather than a minute which means I'm getting a more interested audience. I keep my keywords in Adwords about 15 and all phrased such as "hire a private investigator" as to narrow down who my ads appear for. Other agencies simply have a larger budget for advertising than I do, so I feel I have to be more tactful in my approach.
I do enjoy going out occasionally to drop in on businesses to leave a business cards and to make an appearance. I've always enjoyed talking and meeting new people. Throughout life, I have found that it's important to get out and make yourself do something uncomfortable at least once a day. Break the comfort zone. For a lot of people, I think talking to random people would cause a lot of anxiety. I have found observing and talking with people to be absolutely fascinating. The human personality is quite an interesting one to both interact and observe.
If anyone has any tips in regards to marketing or any good books, I would love to hear it. Running a business has been one of the most exciting adventures I've had the honor of doing. While I certainly believe private investigation IS a particular niche, it is a fascinating field. Aside from one private investigator that I didn't find to be personable, the rest have been very approachable and helpful. Thus far, private investigation has been a great fit.
I will say this, and Adeline will agree with this. I have spent hundreds of hours researching every aspect of better business practice from marketing to human interaction. I usually read two books a week that are always from a self help or business section. Some are even re-reads and are often done with Audible as I'm driving around. The amount of information I have submerged myself with, at times, has been overwhelming. Its amazing to see the rapid progression of the last few months when it started with a random idea.