If you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business.  Even if you’re a startup, you’re going to need to get customers ASAP.  In this short article, I’ll share some of the fastest ways to get customers as a startup.

Let’s start with a story — Meet John

John is a talented award-winning graphic designer. He worked his share as a hired employee, and now he’s ready to start his own design agency.

John believes that his talent and passion will help him get through all the difficulties. With the help of an online constructor, he quickly builds a small website. Then, John fills it with his work examples and starts waiting for clients.

His portfolio is indeed impressive. But, for some reason, he gets zero clients. Not in a week, not in a month even.

No matter how great your product is, without proper customer acquisition, no one will know about it.

John expected potential customers would find him. Instead, he should start actively searching for clients himself.

Let the world know that your business exists

While your business is new, to keep your business running you will need to constantly look for new customers. There are many effective ways to do this. In this article, we’re going to focus on digital marketing as our primary way to get customers for your startup.

Preliminary requirements

To do customer acquisition online right, you will first need to fulfill the requirements below.

Build a website

a website design on a computer how startups get customers

Having a website is crucial. Below are just some of the reasons why your startup needs to have a website:

– Google indicates and ranks websites. When you climb higher in Google search results, more people will know about you.

– Conversion purposes. A website can help you turn a lead into a customer.

– Credibility. Would you trust a company that only has a Facebook page? Perhaps, a small one-person brand can successfully operate without a website for a long time. But a startup? Not in 2020.

– Brand positioning. It’s better to do on your own website than on third-party platforms.

– Contacts and FAQs. With a website, you won’t have to repeatedly answer the same questions over and over again.

Create a proxy client persona

customer persona for how to get customers as a startup

Many beginner startups make a grave mistake of trying to reach out to as many people as possible. Such an approach forces you to scatter your resources, waste more time, and utilize generic customer acquisition strategies.

Instead, you should try a more focused approach. Presumably, you’ve done your homework. You’ve researched your target audience, market segment, and think you are ready.

There is one more step, though. Narrow your focus down even more: from a population segment which is your TA, to a single person who is a typical representative of your TA.

Imagine your customer.

Give them a name. Find a photo online and pretend it’s what your customer looks like. Try to answer the following questions:

– Do they own a business?

– What stage of a customer’s journey are they at?

– What are their needs and concerns – not just in business, but in day to day life?

– How do they get to work?

– What is their average income?

– Are they married?

You can come up with any other questions that will help you portray your client persona fully.

When you create your proxy customer, you will know who exactly you are going to be searching online.

And, instead of sowing generic promises around, you will precisely strike customers with your problem solution.

Techniques to get new customers online

Now, when you know whom you are looking for, it’s time to learn HOW you do it.

We are going to highlight 5 proven methods of customer acquisition. There are more of them, but the ones we list here work always. Make sure to use them to the fullest.

1. Paid ads

Ideally, you want organic search results. This is when people type in Google, “Hire developers online” or “Fast loans” and run into your website.

As a new startup, chances it happens fast enough are small. On the other hand, paid advertisement is a fast way to generate leads right from the start.

Relying on paid ads alone won’t do you good. Contrarily, it can burn your resources fast. But, used on a small scale as a part of the customer acquisition strategy, PPC (pay-per-click) is a viable method. Along with Google Adwords, use PPC ads in social media such as Facebook or Twitter.

For paid ads to work as intended, make sure your website has a well-written landing page. Without it, your ads won’t have a place to direct traffic to.

2. Cold outreach

There are several major ways in which you can do cold outreach.

Phone calls

You’ll talk to an actual person, live. You’ll have little time to react to what they say, so you might want to rehearse your speech and behavior. Also, think over some possible directions your conversation could take, in advance. Cold outreach via the phone can look tough, but come on, not so long ago people did it all the time.


Writing emails could look easier than calling. But, consider this. When a phone rings, someone will pick it up. When a letter hits the inbox there is no guarantee anyone will open it. How many emails that you receive do you open? And how many emails do you mark as spam without even clicking on them?

Often, a subject line is the only part of a letter visible from the inbox. When outreaching via email, you want to master the art of creating informative and engaging subject lines.


You can use other social networks, too. But, LinkedIn was specifically built for business purposes. It has all the tools you need to reach out to your customers effectively.

Here is something to keep in mind about cold outreach: the fear of contacting strangers is common. Also, it’s a completely normal thing to do if you run a company.

When other business owners see your email or hear your voice on the phone, they don’t think, “How dare you to outreach me?” Instead, they probably think, “Let’s see if there’s something in it for me.”

From this perspective, your main concern should be what you offer to people and how you do it.

3. Content marketing

Content marketing is great because, if done right, it can attract new customers without your direct participation. The downside is that you will have to work hard to achieve it.

Blog posts

Regardless of the market segment that you’re operating in, you want your website to have a blog. It will direct organic traffic to your website, increasing the discoverability of your company, and generating new leads.

Facebook and Twitter

You can’t ignore the fact that people nowadays mostly gain information from social networks. Regularly update your social media profiles regularly with industry-related posts.

Guest posts

These are the posts you write for other websites.

You might ask, “Why would I want to do that if I’ve got my own website to fill with content?”

The answer is: because guest posting is good for link building (Google algorithms like it when other credible resources contain links to your website) and improving your domain’s authority. It also raises awareness about your brand, directs more traffic to your website, and generates new leads.


Search engine optimization is your friend. Through the adequate use of popular keywords, meta-data optimization, and other magic, you make your website rise higher in Google search results. The benefits are obvious.

Just make sure you hire a good SEO specialist because the biggest downside of SEO is the time it requires. Don’t expect any prominent results sooner than within half a year. Considering this, you want to do SEO-optimization right from the start.

4. Build a Profile on These Startup Platforms

There are services that highlight new startups, helping them to quickly generate early signups.

They may want you to pay them for featuring your startup on the main page and exposing your business to target audiences. Others, however, are free to use.

For starters, you can check out some platforms from this list and figure out how they work:

Product Hunt








5. Use Quora

According to SimilarWeb, Quora is the source of knowledge second to Wikipedia. This Q&A service can generate tons of new leads for your startup. It counts millions of active and knowledgeable users from all over the world, who create high-quality content on a daily basis.

By searching for the questions related to your industry and answering them, you can directly interact with your potential customers and aid them, raise your brand awareness, and gain a reputation. It will take a while before content you create for Quora will start generating leads for your business, but it can be an invaluable customer acquisition tool if you use it right. There are many guides on the internet on how to use Quora for lead generation – you can start with this one.

Summing up

Remember John? He’s still there, patiently waiting for customers to fully appreciate his talent and start ordering from him. You, on the other hand, can use these customer acquisition methods described above to get new customers online starting today. Make full use of them,  look for other methods that might suit you better, or come up with your own ones.