#42: 3 Private Investigator Marketing Ideas That Work

I am very fortunate to be friends with many private investigation small business owners.  Those friends are in different points in their business career and specialize in various types of investigation.   Through those relationships I am able to pick up some marketing pointers that may seem unorthodox but they work and they keep these investigators in business.

These marking tips might not be for everyone but it may very well spark an idea for a promotion for your investigation business.


The coupon idea came from a former coworker of mine in the Washington area that we will call Ben.  Ben works as a work comp investigator by day and a domestic surveillance investigator by nights and on his off days.

Ben offers his services at around $55.00 an hour.   An agreement is made for services and Ben will then complete the surveillance assignment.   Ben will email the client and provide a coupon in the email discounting an additional day of surveillance (example: pay 6 hours for 8 hours of surveillance).   The client then has an incentive to continue the assignment when they previously may have never considered it.  Ben never discusses the coupon until it appears the client no longer wants to pursue the assignment.  Ben has added several days of work to these domestic assignments by using these coupons.

Having a coupon for your client is not a new business idea.  I do believe it to be unique to the domestic investigator business model.  If you work one extra day as a result of a coupon, the return on investment is more than worth it for your business.


Getting your client to purchase services in bulk is good for several reasons.   The easy answer of course is that you will make more money if your client purchases more services or time.  The more case time that you work for a client, the better chances you will achieve the desired results.

From the insurance investigation point of view there is typically a focus on getting cases that can potentially lead to a surveillance assignment (activity checks, alive and well checks, etc..).  This model works on two basic fronts: 1.) More work = More money, 2.) More work keeps employees working and happy.

Example of Buy in Bulk

An example of a successful bulk discount model is to provide a discount on multiple days for surveillance assignments.  If a client assigns four days of surveillance they will receive a $200 discount on the assignment.   Clients may choose your companies services over another company because of your discount and may help build a promising relationship with your client.

It’s up to you as to how long you run the promotion.  You can always run the promotion as a part of your business model, run it when business is seasonally slow or whenever it fits your business needs.


Again this is not a new pricing model for the investigative industry however many new investigative businesses may not have considered this idea.  The thought behind this pricing model is the following:

  • A rate that will be the same regardless of expenses (mileage, hotels, etc..)
  • The customer has no surprises when they receive the invoice
  • The profit margins will vary but a reasonable profit will exist
  • The business will be more focused on volume rather than getting rich on each case (Long term focus)

I have heard of investigation companies losing their clients because of the amounts of their invoices.  Things add up during an investigation with vehicle expenses, hotel stays, food, paying investigators for travel time etc…The investigation companies that lost their clients as a result of inflated invoices actually did a decent job on their investigations.

Marketing can apply to many different things.  For my purposes with this blog article, the objective of these marketing tips would be to get more work with less effort and give your client a reason to choose you over someone else.  I hope this helps you in some fashion or at the very least sparks an idea for something greater.

Be sure to stop by the Facebook page and say hi.  Don’t forget to check out the P.I Advice Podcast.  I try to make at least two episodes a month.

Take care and be safe,


One comment

  1. I completely agree with the flat rate billing model. I used to invoice out, but couldn’t stand the fronting of expenses, investigators, etc. while waiting for a client to pay. When the client doesn’t pay – not only are you burned – but your investigators are burned. It’s happened to me a few times. Extremely unpleasant experience. Volume is far more important than get rich quick operations.