How It Started vs. How It’s Going
What I Did During My Lockdown: Adam Visnic of Gravitas Investigations dove deep into video, producing two popular YouTube series for PIs: “The Reason You Got Burned” and “The P.I. Hero.”
On January 1, 2020, I picked up a book that would crystallize my marketing vision for Gravitas Investigations. Little did I know what would happen next.
The 1-Page Marketing Plan by Allan Dib isn’t a cure-all or sales pitch, but it confirmed what I had been reading the previous 10 years. (note: You can read many of the books with my personal notes on my website for free.)
Among the many things the book helped me with was specifying the media type I would use to reach my target market. What method would I use to generate leads and spur referrals?
Blog writing, as effective as it might be, (and Pursuit Magazine had been involved in getting my name out there) wasn’t best suited for me.
But there was a niche I hadn’t yet explored: video.
And that led me to the big player in the video world.
What is YouTube?
It’s not just for pranksters and cats anymore. YouTube is the #1 video platform in the world. And, because it’s owned by Google, it’s the #2 search engine on earth. It’s routinely in the top five of websites visited in the world. The stats go on… almost three billion monthly users, 74% of adults in the U.S. watch YouTube, and it’s the second most used social media platform behind Facebook.
People are doing business there too — 70% of viewers bought from a brand after seeing it on YouTube, the number of channels that earn $10,000 per year or more on YouTube grew by 50%, year over year, and people are more likely to buy after watching reviews on YouTube.
How often have you bought something because a YouTuber reviewed it??
From a personal standpoint, instead of putting on TV every morning, I’d just watch YouTube on my phone. When I want to learn how to install a toilet: YouTube. When I wanted some entertainment: YouTube.
You get the gist. YouTube has all the answers.
And as you can imagine, as a result of the Covid-19 stay-at-home mandate, people were spending more time on social media, YouTube being the main platform.
I’m sure you’ve heard that video is more effective than audio or written word — Pursuit has a video channel to supplement their fabulous writing and newsletter.
Despite the massive number of users and channels on the platform, I knew there was room for a new one.
I dove in headfirst and started putting out private investigator-related video content on YouTube.
How to Start
There is no one more introverted than me.
And I know many private investigators who would rather sit in a surveillance van or lurk in the shadows than get on camera. That was me, after all. I spent 15 years without showing my face.
It was time to step into the light. I culled my own P.I. Hero superpowers and made the move.
Standing on the shoulders of giants helped me gather the courage to start. The channel that helped me grow, get comfortable on camera, and learn all the tricks are these guys: Tim Schmoyer at Video Creators, Sean Cannell at Think Media and Think Marketing, and Ali Abdal, to name a few. Of course, YouTube has their own academy dedicated to creators. All the tools are right there for you!
Can YouTube really help your business grow?
I’d been pursuing a client for nearly six months in 2020. Failed phone calls, unopened emails, and even snail-mail. My efforts had fallen flat.
Fast forward to mid-2020. As soon as I got comfortable on camera, I sent a grand total of ONE video, just one, tailored specifically to that client. The very next day, the client picked up the phone, thanked me, and submitted a case request.
On top of that, YouTube has incredible analytics. It’s a lot like tracking a blog on Google Analytics — they not only tell you where your audience is, who they are, how much they watch, but also when your audience turns off and stays with your content.
You’ll know exactly who you’re reaching.
It’s almost like that saying if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. If you can get people to click on your YouTube video and watch it to the end, you can get ANYONE to watch it. Which means they’re watching you and your business. You’re staying “top of mind.”
And besides, the act of just having a YouTube channel can be social proof in and of itself.
The Pottery Lesson
If you don’t know the story of the ceramics class, here it is. You’ll see right away why it’s valuable to YouTube content creation:
A ceramics teacher announced on the first day of class that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.
His procedure was simple: on the final day of class, he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an “A.”
When grading time came, a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
The takeaway: Knowing that I had to produce as many “pounds of clay” as possible to become any good at video, I made the decision to put out one video a week. This would eliminate the learning curve and reduce the initial pains as quickly as possible.
A real-life example of producing pounds of clay in the blogosphere is my dude, Brian Willingham. He’s put out 300+ blog articles over the past half-decade or more. Blogging has been his main source of content creation and business growth.
Sure, my first few videos were garbage (professional opinion), but I needed to just hit record and get them out there. Quality would come.
That was about 10 months ago. Since then, I have invested time, money, and effort into the channel: a couple of cameras, lighting, audio equipment, and a course on how to grow.
As of May 2020, I’ve put out about 40 videos. All that equates to 400 subscribers, over 10k views, and almost 600 hours of watch time.
Of course, all these videos make their way to my email newsletter, my website, and social media platforms. So, not only have recurring clients reached out because of my videos, but new clients have entered the pipeline from having watched.
How to Stay the Course
Launching is easy. Keeping at it is harder. But if you want to see the results of creative work like a YouTube channel or a blog, you’ve got to put in the time. It might take months or years before enough people start paying attention to make a difference in your bottom line. My long-term goal is to play the algorithm game and “go big” on YouTube. That “big” number could be to go where no PI has — 100,000 subscribers is a metric I had in my head. Why not aim high?
In the meantime, my short-term goal is imminently reachable: Making more videos. I like doing it! It’s a chance to offer useful tips to my colleagues and, in a broader sense, show people the value of what private investigators can do. Hopefully, that perception shift can help elevate our craft in the eyes of the public — a high tide that raises all boats. And in that vein, my latest project (which I’m really proud of!) is the PI Hero series, which highlights fellow professionals. Click below to watch them all.
How to start:
- Click record. Don’t wait.
- You don’t need a good camera to start. Your smartphone will do the trick.
- Invest in audio. A simple lavalier mic ($15) will do much better than internal audio.
- Tell a story. Share your heroic journey.
About the author:
For over 15 years, Adam Visnic has been in the private investigations space. He is the President of Gravitas Investigations, based in Cincinnati, OH, where he serves public and private clients in the claims and legal fields, but Adam is also a contract national security background investigator with credentials for multiple federal government agencies. He holds a B.S. and M.S. from Eastern Kentucky University. His YouTube channel, Adam Visnic, P.I., talks about all things private investigations.