Why Getting Clients Online is Totally Different Than Offline

Did you know that getting clients online is a COMPLETELY different ball game then getting them locally, offline?

I often talk to frustrated service providers who wonder why they can’t attract clients online, and here’s what I discovered. You can’t just take your existing offline coaching or consulting online – your value gets “lost in translation.”

In order to translate your value from offline to online business, you need to use different strategies and skill set. Here are the main differences…

Getting clients offline requires:

  • Networking
  • Lunch meetings
  • Speaking to local audiences
  • Referral groups
  • Relationship-building and patience

Getting clients online requires:

  • Being laser-focused on a specific target market
  • Building a list of potential clients
  • Clearly communicating your message
  • Creating educational content
  • Being able to inspire people in videos or webinars
  • Sharing your value in writing / copywriting
  • Creating joint venture partnerships

Can you see how different these skill sets are?

This is why ALL of the products I create focus on applying online business skills – product launches, joint ventures, telesummits, list-building, webinars, copywriting, content creation, niche finding, and more.

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And it works both ways.

I’ve always had an online business. When I attempted to get some local clients, it didn’t work.

Clearly, my online business skills didn’t translate into offline business. I was too impatient with people who took several hours of my time, then wanted to “think about it”.

I am curious, what has your experience been around this? Share your thoughts below.

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7 thoughts on “Why Getting Clients Online is Totally Different Than Offline

  1. Judith Lansky

    Very good points, Milana. I had never delineated it quite so clearly. I had a very successful–more successful than most of my colleagues in Chicago– off-line business for 25 years or so. Loved all the relationship building, talking to clients/prospects by phone, speaking, networking etc. (Had to hire a voice coach because I talked so much). Watching the evolution of marketing etc,
    I thought 8-10 years ago, that I needed to market on-line. With techie help, I learned the basics of on-line marketing, and set about doing on-line marketing. Not very well suited to my personality or skills, I spend my days writing, typing and seeing a few clients (who seem happy to come to my office). Nowhere near as fun (the on-line part) and not as successful
    financially either.
    There are so many reasons for the changes, I’m sure, but I would be afraid to give up on-line marketing entirely. Maybe shift the balance.
    Thanks for laying this out so clearly. I’m not so linear in my thinking and it
    was helpful to read your article.

  2. Tim Olson

    I believe much of this depends on the individual coach. I obtained about 60% of my clients from local networking. Your list for offline is very accurate. What kicked in the best for me with this field was the know/like/trust factor. As a result of getting well-infused into my networking groups, new clients signed up readily due to the confidence towards me generated from the whole group.
    My online effort worked amazingly well for two main reasons. In a way they are similar to my offline efforts. Even though my web site was designed as an information page more than a get-clients site, many clients found me by Googling and they liked what they found. In addition, I posted my contact info along with areas of specialty on a couple of well-chosen sites that matched my comfort zone (like joining a local networking group) and those postings pulled in the balance of clients.
    All I did from your list for getting online clients was to clearly communicate my message (website) and to that I added a posting or two on the right lists. As a result my online clients came from all over the world with minimal effort. I was amazed by it.
    On the other hand, your list is a good one and if I were to start over (I am now retired) I am sure I would incorporate them as well. Thank you for all your advice and insight over the past years.

  3. Gina Zappariello

    Hi Milana, Happy New Year!
    I am so glad you wrote about this, because it is definitely my experience. I had a solid, small in-person practice. I consistently had 3-5 clients that I would meet with in-person, and that was perfect for me. Then we moved out of the country, and I thought I could easily transfer my business to online. Wrong! I have been struggling for two years, and frankly, miss my in-person clients and the marketing I did, which is everything you outline above. I am now considering going back to a very specific niche that I couldn’t get going before moving out of the U.S., and see if I can make that work online. I’m looking forward to your future blogs on this topic.
    Thanks, and good luck with your new venture!

  4. Harry Pickens

    Thanks for your reflections. I have been pondering this question for the past few years, reflecting on why my attempts to build an online presence never appealed to me nearly as much as the daily realities of offline business.

    Your list makes it even more clear. As I have experienced it, much of the online activity is not so directly people centered. Sure, you are ultimately delivering your services to other human beings, but the actual physical real-time connection isn’t so much a part of the ongoing work of online business development, at least as I currently perceive it.

    My greatest ‘online’ success has come from Facebook, where I am in frequent 1:1 communication with many ‘friends’, colleagues, potential clients. I love connecting with people 1 on 1 in this way, and enjoy sending dozens of individual messages far more than I care to construct a single email or video or blog post that will reach far more, but without the sense of immediacy and intimacy that comes from a real-time 1 to 1 conversation.

    I’ve also known more than a handful of online gurus whose online persona does not match their offline character, and this disturbs me a bit. I can see how someone can completely build a persona online that is false, skillfully using modern tools of persuasion and manipulation to generate attention and interest and desire and action. I suppose I don’t want to be associated with the kind of deception I’ve witnessed quite a bit over the past few years of exploring the world of online marketing. With a locally based, offline business, you simply can’t away with what I’ve observed some online gurus getting away with — deceiving and manipulating prospects and customers while pretending to embody a quality of character and integrity that’s not authentic. It’s easier to pretend you care about people online; it’s harder to fake it offline.

    Again, thanks for your reflections. All the best for a marvelous 2017.

    1. Harry Pickens

      One more thing. My sense is that some people who gravitate to a primarily online marketing presence/business — don’t really LIKE people so much! I know this is a broad observation, so let me elaborate. With the constant need to measure effectiveness and profitability that comes with any business, I notice that some entrepreneurs who really prefer the somewhat lonely tasks involved in building an online presence are often more comfortable and at ease working at their laptop than actually engaging with people in real-time. I wonder if there are personality types that are simply drawn more naturally to online versus offline engagement. Just a thought. Thanks again for your reflections.

  5. Kathryn Yarborough

    Milana – I like how you’ve delineated these two sets of skills. However, I see them a little differently. I see the first set as how a person attracts one-on-one coaching clients which can be done in person or online. And I see the second set of skills as how a person sells programs to groups of people. And most people do that online, but you can also do that in person as well.

  6. Karol

    Almost 95% of my business success has some from in person networking, speaking and relationship building. I love it! The other 5% comes from referrals.

    There is something about that in person connection that works for me. It has created a lot of flow in my life. As I develop more on in person workshops and on-line classes, I am able to tap into that pool of people.

    I know there are people that have the same experience of flow on line and they love it just as much.

    I believe that knowing and trusting what works helps you navigate and build your area of expertise.


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