Blending Online With Offline

Initially, the appeal of doing business online was that you can automate your marketing and make money while you sleep. It’s been oversold because what the online experts don’t tell you is the effort it takes to get the 24/7 structure working consistently, sustainably, and profitably. In the end, it ends up being a “real business” because you have to build it like a real business. The cost are comparatively less that having to sign a two your lease for office space but it’s not free.

So… when offline businesses think of adding an online component, they may be shocked to discover how much is actually involved with pulling the technologies together and then building an audience. When you look at all the moving pieces, you may wonder, is it really worth it? And the answer to that is … maybe.

Depending on how mature your offline business is, it may be time to think about extending your reach and connecting with existing customers and new ones online. It’s literally impossible for the average brick and mortar business to have that many opportunities for engagement because it demands too much of the customer. Customers want portable convenience, instant access, 4-second load times, news and entertainment at their fingertips. It’s not convenient to get in the car and go some place every day, that sounds like a job, not something you do leisurely.

Let me give you an example. I have been in Georgia 8 years. The traffic is awful. I have worked out of my home office for 10 years. I have an office I go to maybe once a week. I want to see faces without whiskers and have conversations that don’t involve the word, “meow”. But for this I have to leave the house super early to avoid the morning commuters and I have to leave the office around 2 or after 7.

Commuters can literally use up three or four hours a day going to a destination and then returning home. Livng close to your work is a luxury that most people don’t have. So what the online space offers is having the world come to you, wherever you are, whenever you like. Besides, you wouldn’t want someone coming to your “store” loitering, just sitting around, being social, unless you are Starbucks. But online, the more time a potential customer spends with you, the more they are likely to become a repeat customer.

Yes, this all sounds magical but it’s not because living your life online can be lonely. Thus, I spend money to go work in a co-working office and to be around other technologists and founders. Human beings need to be with human beings and that’s where the offline experience wins, hands down.

To truly maximize your profit potential, abandon the restraints that go along with an either/or paradigm. Instead, think in terms of leveraging the best of both online and offline marketing. Many of the online experts have refined this model to eventually build 7-figure businesses by hosting live events. It’s true, this doesn’t happen overnight but it’s worth preparing for that kind of business model because the online touchpoints increase the value of the offline touchpoints.

This is a side note … Something very exciting happened today in my email inbox. I received an invite to a virtual meetup on the Zoom video conference platform. I am doing the happy dance. Meetups are notorious for low turnouts because of the wonderful Georgia commute. I was wondering when they were going to start allowing virtual meetings. They finally realized, they were leaving money on the table.

In closing, I’d like to ask you, to get creative and think about how you can create a blended experience within your business? Maybe, just maybe, that online/offline model can work for your business, too.