Sylvester Stallone’s portrayal of Rocky in 1976-which won him the Academy Award for best picture-had a scene where he’s talking to his future brother-in-law, Paulie.
Paulie asks, “Hey, Rock, what you see in my sister Adrian?” Rocky replied, “gaps.”
“Yeah, we fill gaps. She fills my gaps, I fill her gaps.”
When you really think about it, you’re providing a service for individuals or businesses your filling gaps. When you’re in the private investigation business, you’re filling the gaps between what the client knows or suspects what they need to know. Your job is all about meeting those needs of filling gaps.
Aligning customer’s needs with your skill sets or learning new ones
A criminal defense attorney has a client who insists he is innocent of any wrongdoing. How do you meet their needs? What investigation has to be undertaken to allow them to go into court and create reasonable doubt?
A wife suspects her husband of cheating wants to get the proof of his infidelity.
A landlord has to locate a deadbeat runner that skipped out and owes thousands of dollars for back rent.
An insurance company suspects a policyholder of torching their car.
Each of the customers has different needs and each investigation requires different skill sets. As investigators firstly, we sometimes are hammers always looking for nails. That’s how we find our customers and find our niche is. But as business people, it is better to chase the skill or the customer?
I know of a private investigator that is building her business with customers on fidelity investigations. Her surveillance skills are easily transferable to workers’ compensation and disability insurance companies. The hammer is obviously searching for other nails, but the search takes her away from her preferred customer base. Her branding and website are for consumers, not businesses.
Instead, what if she learned new skillsets for her existing customer base? She is filling their other gaps. For example, she could invest the time to learn how to locate missing teens quickly for frantic parent parents one law enforcement gives him a cold shoulder. Does this private investigator want to take on a myriad of general investigations to be able to service her clientele more completely? Would be better for her to subcontract out some cases so far afield from her skill set, to keep the customers happy while taking a referral fee from the subcontractor?
Not to make your head spin anymore, but there’s also a question of who is the buyer and who is the user? What the buyer wants and what the user needs are sometimes not the same. For example, the gap is usually seen between what the individual consumer thinks they need and what their lawyer has to bring to court in the form of facts or evidence.
Another example is the property and casualty insurance the industry, where the buyer may be the highest echelon in the claims department and the user is a claims adjuster with a sticky claim deal with. The special investigation unit investigator claims adjuster would be the user of an investigation that you provide, however, the payer that is the buyer for that investigation is their employer.
What business are you in?
Business-to-Business [B2B]: the user may not be the buyer. Multiple decision-makers in the process. Contracts purchase orders and retainers are usual. Budgets are set and pricing is subject to volume discounting.
Professional to Professional [P2P]: I’ve not seen this phrase elsewhere, so I’m going to take ownership of it. You, as a licensed professional investigator are reaching out to other professionals such as attorneys, property managers, certified public accountants, certified financial planners, or will anyone who has a professional designation as determined by their schooling and licensing. They spell out the investigative objective
for their clients. A retainer is taken if their client is the buyer. Flat rate pricing for simple cases may replace the usual hourly arrangements.
Business to Consumer [B2C]: think of you as a consumer. You google for goods or services to be rendered. You find businesses that will offer their goods or services. You go to their website and get into their sales funnel to make a purchase of a product or service. The same can be done by an individual walking into a retail establishment.
As applies to your business, the client is a private individual in your dealing with their personal checkbook. Their needs affect them personally as opposed to that of a business decision being made. You are in the business they are reaching out to. You could also be a solo investigator or could have a team working with you. You could work with other associates, but the consumer part of the equation is more important. All your focus is on the consumer, the private individual.
Hybrid, for example, you’re an expert anybody has the need for your expertise comes to you. You must market to the highest paying users and buyers. On the other side of the spectrum, you’re the only guy or gal in a remote section of the state. You are the only game in that county. You market other private investigators around the world to let them know you the best solution that ZIP Code. Your website is optimized for people to find you when they search for your geographical area.
Whether you deal with businesses, professionals, or consumers, everything in your marketing is about them. Each requires different handling in different branding. Each requires there needs to be focused on your website, your printed materials in your offers.
It always surprises me when I see other investigators at lawyer’s conferences. They have a booth, signage, and a website geared for dealing with consumers. They are clearly in the B2C market, yet there trying to market in the B2B world or, even more ridiculously, in the P2P world of professional to professional.
Everything from their website and all their leave behind brochures and flyers and all of the services they render are for private individuals and have nothing to do with the specific needs of the target audience that they are trying to attract at that conference.
What’s worse in my opinion is the investigative company that attempts to be a jack of all trades and master of none. They don’t even though whether they are B2B, B2C, or P2P. They are not hybrid, because they’re trying to do everything for everyone instead of focusing on her specialized knowledge or their geographical exclusivity.
There is a place for the generalist as I mentioned above. I believe the generalist can be effective when they’re the only game in town or in an out-of-the-way place without a lot of competition.
But the sheer fact that they are in an inaccessible area, they can take on all comers. They will be able to take on criminal defense work. They will skip trace. They will do cheating wives and husbands, and all the surveillance work for insurance companies because there is no one else in that area to do that work. If that is the case for you, it
makes sense to be a hybrid because your competitive advantage is that no one else is there to do the same work with you.
In reality, the only place to go wide with your network of prospects is when you’re in the B2C market. You are fishing with a net and to scoop up as many prospects as you can in your geographic area with a potential need for a private investigator.
Otherwise, you want to drill very deep into your niche whether your B2B or P2P. You want to make sure you are the person they want to come to you have all the necessary skill sets to be able to meet their needs and to answer their questions.
Another investigator I know has decided to go into the P2P business and is looking to market exclusively to attorneys, certified public accountants, small business owners, and financial planners. Everyone in his target audience can be attracted by his many years of service as a former FBI agent and as a certified fraud examiner. He has the ability to understand their needs and what their investigative objectives are.
The investigator I mentioned earlier is attempting to attract private individuals before any divorce action is filed or for private individuals looking to modify their custody agreements based upon the miscreant behaviors of their ex-spouse.
She’s looking to be a high-volume low-cost provider to individuals. She will take credit cards and PayPal or Stripe. She’s hoping to scale her business through an excellent website presence and by attendance at the Chamber of Commerce events. She wants to create a referral program for gyms, hair, beauty, wellness, and nail salons.
Your Target Audience
•Who is going to be the end-user as well to the buyer for the services you will offer?
• Are you targeting the B2B, P2P or B2C markets?
• Do the exercise of taking a piece of lined paper and fill out as much detail as you
can as to who your target audience looks like by asking these questions:
how do you attract these new customers?
Now, where do they congregate?
What are their top three needs? List them.
What should your testimonials sound like in attracting their business?
The more you drill down into shaping who your target audience member looks like, the more you can gear your marketing and website materials towards that individual.
*Remember you are not marketing to everybody you’re marketing to specific people with needs and gaps between what they know now and what they need to know.
Lastly, on this topic, I want to help you understand whether you are hunting or fishing.
When you’re hunting you are looking for B2B or P2P customers. When you are fishing, you have to have a net for the customer to swim into (Hint-internet searches) or a good hook. (Website with a great call to action CTA) Your message to each individual decision-maker to help them to identify whether they have a need and an interest in your specialty. It is your job to tease out of them their desire to utilize your services and have them take action. In a later article we will talk about AIDA as the acronym for attention, interest, desire, and action, but for now, figure out we are target audiences what gaps they need to have and how you can fill them.