Tips for promoting/advertising offshore services?

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Hey everyone,

I must say that my time on OCT has taught me more about the offshore services industry than I would have learned from reading 3-4 books on the subject (Shout out to Sols, Martin Everson and Golden Fleece!!). As you can probably tell from my other posts, I'm fresh out of law school and am interested in setting up an offshore services business online, focused mostly on offshore incorporation, privacy, and asset protection. I intend on operating this business as a law practice that operates (at first) mostly online via a website and software like Clio.

While I am still a long ways out before I attempt to launch this enterprise, I have been wondering lately about promoting/advertising for an internet start-up. Given that a plethora of service providers frequently post on OCT, I wanted to ask how they started getting clients online. How do such firms go about developing a pipeline of clients? Is it really just Search Engine Optimization and Forums? My gut tells me there is more to it than that. Are marketing companies hired to help advertise your services across the internet? If you have experience with promoting and advertising internet based service business, please comment! I can use all advice possible.

Can anyone comment on their experience promoting/advertising their offshore services business and getting clients when they first started out? Any tips or helpful information on how I can begin to think about promoting/advertising this potential future enterprise would be greatly appreciated :) !!
 
Thanks Johnny!

Yeah, I'm going to start surfing through blackhatworld and other similar forums. I'm not sure how useful they'll be besides learning about SEO, their marketplace, etc. Can you speak to how effective that forum and such techniques are?

Are their special marketing companies that you can pay to get your name out and clients in? It seems to me that establishing a pipeline of clients is probably the hardest part of operating such a business. It's definitely not as simple as getting a website and making sure it appears on the first couple pages of a Google search result list.
 

JohnnyDoe

Mentor Group Gold
Thanks Johnny!

Yeah, I'm going to start surfing through <snipped> and other similar forums. I'm not sure how useful they'll be besides learning about SEO, their marketplace, etc. Can you speak to how effective that forum and such techniques are?
You can find very good advice there
Are their special marketing companies that you can pay to get your name out and clients in? It seems to me that establishing a pipeline of clients is probably the hardest part of operating such a business. It's definitely not as simple as getting a website and making sure it appears on the first couple pages of a Google search result list.
As a lawyer, you will benefit from listing on hg.org
 
Last edited by a moderator:

EliasIT

Corporate Services
Mentor Group Gold
You are on the wrong forum for marketing and advertising of a service!

That said, there is Google AD words that you may use, it's the fastest way to get customers quickly if you have a large budget. Forum and Blog advertising is not for everyone, it requires one to be active. If you have the time for it, you want to start there, you get laser targeted traffic and quickly customers that are ready to pay for your service.
 

marzio

Mentor Group Gold
Can you speak to how effective that forum and such techniques are?

I can tell you about @Fred. He started interacting in the forum answering questions about Dubai meanwhile he started advertising on OCT.

By answering questions he showed that he was knowledgable about the subject and people began to trust him.

Then he started a review thread about his services and when positive testimonial came in the snowball effect kicked in.

Now everyone in this forum knows that @Fred is the go to guy for everything Dubai.
 

Sols

Staff member
Mentor Group Gold
What kind of customers do you want and how can you help them?

Do you want the kind of customers that find service providers through search engine keywords?

Look at your peers. How are they marketing themselves? Are they marketing themselves? Many of them don't, and that's for good reason. Many of the best providers out there barely show up even on search engines.
 

James Spader

Forum Moderator
Staff member
I can tell you about @Fred. He started interacting in the forum answering questions about Dubai meanwhile he started advertising on OCT.

By answering questions he showed that he was knowledgable about the subject and people began to trust him.

Then he started a review thread about his services and when positive testimonial came in the snowball effect kicked in.

Now everyone in this forum knows that @Fred is the go to guy for everything Dubai.
That's the best receipt of success. Some people around OffshoreCorpTalk are making really big money because they offer a valid and exceptional service. They put a lot of work and effort into it, that's what bring them the real award.
 
You are on the wrong forum for marketing and advertising of a service!

That said, there is Google AD words that you may use, it's the fastest way to get customers quickly if you have a large budget. Forum and Blog advertising is not for everyone, it requires one to be active. If you have the time for it, you want to start there, you get laser targeted traffic and quickly customers that are ready to pay for your service.
Thanks for this Elias! So would you say that the best way to get your name and services out there is through Search Engine Management and Optimization? What do you consider to be a large budget? And I've always been a little confused about Forum and Blog advertising. Is this just getting involved on multiple related forums and setting up a blog? When you say that I am on the wrong forum for marketing and advertising, are you indirectly referring to the forum previously mentioned but subsequently deleted (I will not repost of name of said forum as I understand that to be against the rules)?

I can tell you about @Fred. He started interacting in the forum answering questions about Dubai meanwhile he started advertising on OCT.

By answering questions he showed that he was knowledgable about the subject and people began to trust him.

Then he started a review thread about his services and when positive testimonial came in the snowball effect kicked in.

Now everyone in this forum knows that @Fred is the go to guy for everything Dubai.

Thanks for this Marzio! Did Fred start completely from scratch on OCT? That is awesome to know he achieved all that through OCT and internet marketing. One doubt that I keep having in my mind is that privacy focused and asset protection structures might not be marketable on the internet ('would decently wealthy people really work with service providers online for such structures rather than speak with their local 'brick and mortar' law firm?' --> is a thought that goes though my mind quite a bit). It is good to know that is not necessarily the case.

What kind of customers do you want and how can you help them?

Do you want the kind of customers that find service providers through search engine keywords?

Look at your peers. How are they marketing themselves? Are they marketing themselves? Many of them don't, and that's for good reason. Many of the best providers out there barely show up even on search engines.
Thanks for this Sols! It is always a pleasure to have your advice. I have already learnt a lot from merely reading your responses to question raised in the threads.

Answer to 1st question: From where my head is at right now, I want to attract customers who are looking for asset protection & privacy related structures. I would also be looking for customers who merely want to incorporate a business offshore, but that is not my focus as I realize that the offshore incorporation market is very saturated. Given my legal knowledge, I think I could separate myself from the saturation of that market by specializing in offshore asset protection planning. I should preface this by saying that I think US asset protection structures (Nevada, South Dakota, etc) would be an ideal focus for me, as they are cheaper and are as thus more likely to be marketable online for a reseller/intermediary.

Answer to 2nd question: I don't really know yet if that is the customer I am looking for. My focus is on going to be asset protection. As I've mentioned in my response to Elias above, I am slightly skeptical that a customer base for asset protection structures (which as we know can be fairly expensive) can be gained from simply using Search Engine Management/Optimization strategies. I have read stories (I can PM you the Globe and Mail article if you wish) of Canadian resellers/intermediaries selling these structures and successfully making very good business. I understand the industry much better than I did before, but I do not yet know how these resellers/intermediaries gained the solid customer base that made them successful.

That's the best receipt of success. Some people around OffshoreCorpTalk are making really big money because they offer a valid and exceptional service. They put a lot of work and effort into it, that's what bring them the real award.
That is great to hear! I am glad I at the right place. If it wasn't for OCT I would have had no avenue to learn actually learn about this industry. I would have been stuck reading the works of journalists who, lets face it, get this entire industry wrong from the get go. Are a lot of the regular posters on OCT resellers?
 

JohnnyDoe

Mentor Group Gold
I would only hire someone who has skin in the game and several years of experience. So unless you want to mislead your prospects and market yourself as something you are not, I doubt you can attract any serious client.
 

Sols

Staff member
Mentor Group Gold
I would only hire someone who has skin in the game and several years of experience. So unless you want to mislead your prospects and market yourself as something you are not, I doubt you can attract any serious client.
Agreed. Serious clients go by referrals. They will ask their peers for recommendations.

Go spend 5–10+ years at a reputable corporate service provider, international law firm, or international bank; make connections, and then start your own business.

You can launch an SEO friendly website and get traffic, but you'll mostly be attracting lower-value clients that take up a lot of time (many questions and unreasonable expectations). You won't be having much fun setting up asset protection structures for someone living in Belgium who has 100,000 EUR worth on untaxed crypto profits. Client is breaking the law, client will spend 10+ emails asking questions, client will complain that paying 20,000 EUR for a setup is too much (and you're not even sure the structure is sound because the client keeps saying he might move to Dubai or move to Canada depending on what his next Tinder date says), client will insist a BVI company with bank account Liechtenstein is both doable and sufficient, client will struggle with KYC, and so on. At the end of the day, your cut is maybe 10-20% of the fees paid.

Then one day you get a client that seems great. EU citizen entrepreneur that has 10 million EUR and wants help setting up an asset protection structure. How come they picked you? Never mind, let's get to business! They trust you to do everything. After hours of communication and research, you get to work. Get KYC, which takes surprisingly long but the client is friendly about it. You send the KYC on to the law firm/service provider you're working with and they tell you no. The client is known to them and source of wealth is suspect, with potential ties to opium trade in Afghanistan, human trafficking, and the client's brother is the minister of finance of a small country whose government was recently toppled.


Incorporation mills (like SFM and others) make money on volume. If you're incorporating hundreds of companies per month and your margin is at least a few hundred, you can make a decent chunk of money. Over time, you start making your own connections with bankers and other related service providers. Your network grows from there. That's not exactly an elegant line of work, though. Being an incorporation mill is just pushing papers around. And it's fading away as incorporation alone isn't enough anymore (hasn't been for a long time), and customers are waking up to it.
 

JohnnyDoe

Mentor Group Gold
Agreed. Serious clients go by referrals. They will ask their peers for recommendations.

Go spend 5–10+ years at a reputable corporate service provider, international law firm, or international bank; make connections, and then start your own business.
the best choice is to work in a good law firm. You will be able to gain relevant experience from the beginning as a junior, while working with your senior on high value clients and possibly learning from their errors. Litigation would prove valuable as you would have the opportunity to see what really works and withstands the challenges of a court.
Once you climb the ranks and become a partner, that will be when you can decide whether to start your practice. Impossible to make such long term plans now, by then the world and yourself will have changed a lot.

Corporate service providers are just paper mills. Good place to work only if you want a 8-5 job with little responsibilities.

Banks are the worst place where to work and as a young lawyer you will end up in a basement together with psycho monkeys looking all day at ways for vexing clients. You will slowly transform into a monkey yourself.
 

JohnnyDoe

Mentor Group Gold
I had a way to start this business from scratch and attract high quality clients from the beginning, but OP refused to discuss it… unless he comes up with an innovative idea/service, or he has a big budget to market his new company (and potentially deceive his prospects), there’s nothing else to be said.
 

Sols

Staff member
Mentor Group Gold
Corporate service providers are just paper mills. Good place to work only if you want a 8-5 job with little responsibilities.
Depends on what role you take on. Won't be as good as being with a law firm. But working your way up in a major/meaningful corporate service provider can definitely lead to making valuable connections and learning valuable skills.

Banks are the worst place where to work and as a young lawyer you will end up in a basement together with psycho monkeys looking all day at ways for vexing clients. You will slowly transform into a monkey yourself.
Free bananas on Fridays.

It's a fair point, though. If you get stuck in the lower tiers at a bank, it'll be brain-numbingly dull. If you advance to senior positions, doors outside of banking will open.

Neither is a good fit in this particular case, though. Should definitely go work at a major international law firm that specializes in cross-border taxation and HNWIs.
 

JohnnyDoe

Mentor Group Gold
The career progression paradox causes employees to be stuck in an inadequate position: real good people will not move to a different role because they become indispensable in that role; whereas average people will move up the corporate ladder until they find a position they are real good at and will remain stuck there. In both situations, the person will become frustrated.
The only exception is the CEO, which is the apex of incompetency by definition.

Should definitely go work at a major international law firm that specializes in cross-border taxation and HNWIs.
I would suggest a top tier law firm in a offshore jurisdiction, which will be small enough to enjoy your job.
Of course you would need to qualify for practice in that specific jurisdiction, and once you do that you will probably become an interesting hire for any firm that wants to develop its Canadian clients base. You might even setup a “Canadian desk” and advertise solutions specifically tailored to Canadians.
 
Agreed. Serious clients go by referrals. They will ask their peers for recommendations.

Go spend 5–10+ years at a reputable corporate service provider, international law firm, or international bank; make connections, and then start your own business.

You can launch an SEO friendly website and get traffic, but you'll mostly be attracting lower-value clients that take up a lot of time (many questions and unreasonable expectations). You won't be having much fun setting up asset protection structures for someone living in Belgium who has 100,000 EUR worth on untaxed crypto profits. Client is breaking the law, client will spend 10+ emails asking questions, client will complain that paying 20,000 EUR for a setup is too much (and you're not even sure the structure is sound because the client keeps saying he might move to Dubai or move to Canada depending on what his next Tinder date says), client will insist a BVI company with bank account Liechtenstein is both doable and sufficient, client will struggle with KYC, and so on. At the end of the day, your cut is maybe 10-20% of the fees paid.

Then one day you get a client that seems great. EU citizen entrepreneur that has 10 million EUR and wants help setting up an asset protection structure. How come they picked you? Never mind, let's get to business! They trust you to do everything. After hours of communication and research, you get to work. Get KYC, which takes surprisingly long but the client is friendly about it. You send the KYC on to the law firm/service provider you're working with and they tell you no. The client is known to them and source of wealth is suspect, with potential ties to opium trade in Afghanistan, human trafficking, and the client's brother is the minister of finance of a small country whose government was recently toppled.


Incorporation mills (like SFM and others) make money on volume. If you're incorporating hundreds of companies per month and your margin is at least a few hundred, you can make a decent chunk of money. Over time, you start making your own connections with bankers and other related service providers. Your network grows from there. That's not exactly an elegant line of work, though. Being an incorporation mill is just pushing papers around. And it's fading away as incorporation alone isn't enough anymore (hasn't been for a long time), and customers are waking up to it.
Again, thanks for this detailed response Sols!

So the chief flaw of my business plan at present is attracting the right clients? This is what I suspected as wealthy people usually are not stupid and trusting people solely based on a webpage and some third party comments is a little silly. Like you say in a few of your comments on asset protection in the threads, asset protection planning is particular to a person's situation and is, therefore, not as simple as supplying an offshore trust, along with a couple corp's/llc's. Interestingly enough, I have read about service providers who have successfully built practices without have previous experience in the industry (Globe and Mail - The Man Who Could Make Money Disappear), granted this was nearly two decades ago.

One way I thought I could get around this problem was by appealing to internet entrepreneurs, crypto investers/traders, etc. What do you think?

the best choice is to work in a good law firm. You will be able to gain relevant experience from the beginning as a junior, while working with your senior on high value clients and possibly learning from their errors. Litigation would prove valuable as you would have the opportunity to see what really works and withstands the challenges of a court.
Once you climb the ranks and become a partner, that will be when you can decide whether to start your practice. Impossible to make such long term plans now, by then the world and yourself will have changed a lot.

Corporate service providers are just paper mills. Good place to work only if you want a 8-5 job with little responsibilities.

Banks are the worst place where to work and as a young lawyer you will end up in a basement together with psycho monkeys looking all day at ways for vexing clients. You will slowly transform into a monkey yourself.

The problem here is that I am not close to any law firms (international or otherwise) that specialize in this area. Furthermore, as other posters will know, simply getting a job at an international law firm is no easy task. The hiring process is very competitive. One bad semester or year in law school and you're chances go way down. It's a flawed system, but to my knowledge, this is how it works (at least in Canada). Globe and Mail - The Man Who Could Make Money Disappear <-- this guy seemed to make it work with little experience though, even without a formal law degree lol.

It was great to have both your guy's input. Feel free to comment further. I'll take all the advice I can get from you guys or anybody else on OCT.

Not much to add to @Sols and @JohnnyDoe posts, they sum it all up.
If you don't mind me asking, how did you start?

Did you work at a CSP or law firm before branching out on your own?
 

JohnnyDoe

Mentor Group Gold
The problem here is that I am not close to any law firms (international or otherwise) that specialize in this area. Furthermore, as other posters will know, simply getting a job at an international law firm is no easy task. The hiring process is very competitive. One bad semester or year in law school and you're chances go way down. It's a flawed system, but to my knowledge, this is how it works (at least in Canada).
of course you need to be good, and the only way to prove it when you are fresh out of law school are your grades.
An interesting dissertation and other skills might help to obtain a good position.
I am pretty sure that a Canadian lawyer who passes the bar in an offshore jurisdiction will receive attention from local law firms.
 
Agreed. Serious clients go by referrals. They will ask their peers for recommendations.

Go spend 5–10+ years at a reputable corporate service provider, international law firm, or international bank; make connections, and then start your own business.

You can launch an SEO friendly website and get traffic, but you'll mostly be attracting lower-value clients that take up a lot of time (many questions and unreasonable expectations). You won't be having much fun setting up asset protection structures for someone living in Belgium who has 100,000 EUR worth on untaxed crypto profits. Client is breaking the law, client will spend 10+ emails asking questions, client will complain that paying 20,000 EUR for a setup is too much (and you're not even sure the structure is sound because the client keeps saying he might move to Dubai or move to Canada depending on what his next Tinder date says), client will insist a BVI company with bank account Liechtenstein is both doable and sufficient, client will struggle with KYC, and so on. At the end of the day, your cut is maybe 10-20% of the fees paid.

Then one day you get a client that seems great. EU citizen entrepreneur that has 10 million EUR and wants help setting up an asset protection structure. How come they picked you? Never mind, let's get to business! They trust you to do everything. After hours of communication and research, you get to work. Get KYC, which takes surprisingly long but the client is friendly about it. You send the KYC on to the law firm/service provider you're working with and they tell you no. The client is known to them and source of wealth is suspect, with potential ties to opium trade in Afghanistan, human trafficking, and the client's brother is the minister of finance of a small country whose government was recently toppled.


Incorporation mills (like SFM and others) make money on volume. If you're incorporating hundreds of companies per month and your margin is at least a few hundred, you can make a decent chunk of money. Over time, you start making your own connections with bankers and other related service providers. Your network grows from there. That's not exactly an elegant line of work, though. Being an incorporation mill is just pushing papers around. And it's fading away as incorporation alone isn't enough anymore (hasn't been for a long time), and customers are waking up to it.
Offshore 'mastermind' ran $300M 'shadow bank' for clients' tax-haven money, draft CRA report says --> Here is another example of a successful provider (notwithstanding the fact that he's MIA and the SEC is after him for facilitating securities fraud lol) who operated a successful reseller/intermediary business from Vancouver. The guy was an ex-lawyer who got in trouble with the B.C Law Society and then said **** it and started a business helping clients set up offshore structures. If any knows more, please comment. I'd love to find out how these guys (including the link mentioned in my previous comment) operated and developed their business.
of course you need to be good, and the only way to prove it when you are fresh out of law school are your grades.
An interesting dissertation and other skills might help to obtain a good position.
I am pretty sure that a Canadian lawyer who passes the bar in an offshore jurisdiction will receive attention from local law firms.
Yeah, I haven't looked into applying to the offshore law firms. Not sure how that process works and I haven't met (or spoken with)anyone who has applied or is thinking about applying. Do you think they would value an applicant with a North American law degree?
 

EliasIT

Corporate Services
Mentor Group Gold
Why not just go ahead and apply for a few different jobs that may suite you and see what you get out of it?
 

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