You’ve got your license, and you’re ready to hang your shingle. But you’ve got to market to customers and drum up business.
Where to start: Brochures? Website? Social media? Nope. While those are all great vehicles, marketing starts with a message.
Step One: Profile the Customer
For many of us, our instinct is to think about what our offering is and how we are going to talk about that, but the best marketing starts with the customer. To begin, write a bio that describes your ideal client. For example, let’s say your specialty is litigation support. Your primary customer is an attorney. What 3 questions will a lawyer ask when making a decision about whom to hire for a job?
Step Two: Speak Your Customer’s Language
Turn those questions into a positioning statement for your firm. In our litigation support example, the positioning statement might read something like this:
Poirot Investigations is the ideal hire for all your litigation support. With staff experienced in evidence-handling, witness location and interviews, and court testimony, we are discreet, ethical, and competitively priced.
Starting with the customer and what they care about forces you to use language that will appeal to them.
Step Three: Find Your Customer, Deliver the Message
You’ve got your ideal customer in mind, and you know how you want to position yourself; now it’s time to think about where your audience will find out about you. Where does your target audience hang out, virtually or otherwise? Professional associations? Online communities?
What is the first step your customer will take upon realizing he or she needs a private investigator? In this era, many target customers will search online. It is imperative that every small business have an online presence—you need a website.
If You Build It, They Might Come…But Only If You Optimize.
You don’t necessarily need to know how to design a website to have one. There are a number of companies specializing in small-business websites that can help you for a reasonable price. Give them the message you want to get across, and they can start to build your site.
Start with a minimal number of pages—typically, Home, Contact us, and Our services are among the first a small business builds. Keep in mind: one of the most important things is to build it so that search engines will find it—this is called search engine optimization (SEO).
To think about SEO, imagine what searches your target customer will do—what words will they type into that Google box? Tell your web designer that you need your site optimized for those words. By building the site with key content and tags for those words, you are more likely to come up in a Google search. Studies in consumer behavior indicate that coming up on the first page of a Google search is the dominant way to get people to click through to your site.
The great thing about these three foundational steps is that it sets you up for everything else you might do to market your business. Want to advertise? You can send them to your website for more information. Want to make a flyer? You already know how to position your business.