How do I get customers without advertising

How you can win customers over the Internet - and thereby increase your sales

"People don't know what they want - until you offer it." This simple but clever sentence comes from Terence Conran, an English furniture manufacturer. He hits the point.

As self-employed, we have to draw attention to ourselves. Show what we can do. Actively offer. No customer comes by itself.

How do I get customers? And how do I use it to build up a customer base? That's what this page is about. The focus: How to win new customers over the Internet. Explained in a simple and understandable way.

What options do you have. What strategies are there. What it brings. And how much it costs. Based on our experience from over 15 years of online marketing.

3 common mistakes in customer acquisition

Missing knowledge

As a founder and entrepreneur, you are good at your personal craft. You have specialist knowledge. But you lack marketing knowledge of how to generate customers. That is normal. Because we are not taught anywhere. In addition, advertising on the Internet, also known as online marketing, is for many a book with seven seals. Conversely, this also means: If you deal with it, it can a real advantage be opposite your competition.

Much too expensive website

Some entrepreneurs give themselves a try and invest in their website. However, they then spend a lot of money there. Five-digit amounts are not uncommon. The problem: a website is alone first the base. You need a plan for attracting visitors and customers to your site. You need your own budget for this. Regardless of how much you invested in your website to begin with. If you are still at the beginning: There are also inexpensive alternatives for your own company website.

Not staying long

Generating customer inquiries via the Internet: This is not a sprint, but a marathon. One-time actions are not enough. Draw attention to yourself again and again. With measures that have a lasting effect and are really worth the money. Also plan fixed working hours for this. To make yourself smart and to improve your measures again and again. You invest in customer inquiries of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. How to build in solid foundation for your company - and get off to a flying start.

Win customers - on paper or online?

Print: Where the customers used to be

An advertisement in the local newspaper, a flyer in the city center: many founders and entrepreneurs still use such classic advertising. The problem of Wastage with such forms of advertising is huge. You speak to all sorts of people in the hope that some real people will be there.

In addition, there are one-time actions: You spend money once without any lasting effect. But admittedly: we are not neutral either. We only see that a lot of money is being burned here. We personally also lack the measurability that one has online.

Online: Where the customers are today

Actually it is clear. We all always have our smartphones in hand. We inform ourselves on the net. Especially strong when we want to buy something. This applies to all industries: from craftsmen and restaurants to all kinds of services. So you have to make sure that you visible on the internet are and can be found.

By the way: A good online advertising strategy is often a competitive advantage. Many established companies are missing out on the trend. Often out of ignorance. On the other hand, you are closer to the customer - and thus pass your competitors. And that often goes unnoticed.

Acquiring customers through online advertising - the two big forms

Push advertising

Push advertising is understood to mean all online forms of advertising that involve potential customers "Pushed in" to get. That sounds harsh, but in the end it is. An example: You are on Facebook or Instagram and see advertisements all the time. This advertising is pressed into your media consumption. That can also have its good points. For example, when someone draws your attention to something that you find interesting or that inspires you. Such advertising is often just annoying. Another way: creative or informative content that spreads organically. For example on LinkedIn, which is very popular in the B2B sector.

Pull advertising

Pull advertising works the other way round. It is where customers are looking. Your customers have a problem and are looking for a solution - often through search engines. And you as a company make sure that you are visible there. You do not create a need, you cover it. Simple example: A customer is looking for a craftsman on site. And you as a craftsman are in the front seat there and get the job. Above all, you need informative, convincing texts on your website for this. You invest in search engine optimization - the art of getting ahead of the search results.

Tip: Podcast on the topic of acquiring new customers online

Every week in the Content Performance Podcast we talk about how to get customers online. It's about online marketing and the various disciplines. We also regularly invite successful founders and experts and talk to them about their strategies and approaches. You can find out more about the various disciplines on our website. The following tips:


How to get ahead in search engines: Two options

We talked about pull marketing above. This path has two more branches: search engine ads and search engine optimization. These are often confused with one another. That's why we explain it briefly here - including advantages and disadvantages.

Ads in search engines

You have the option of placing ads in search engines. This is called Google Ads or earlier Google AdWords. The advantages: You can flexibly place advertisements on certain terms. It is from there that visitors will come to your website. You can set the budget yourself. They are immediately visible. You can turn the campaign on and off at any time.

The disadvantages: You have permanent advertising costs. And the prices are often high. A campaign must be cleverly set up and managed. That also costs additional. For that you can fast and flexible customer inquiries to generate. And that is measurable. So you know if it's worth it.

Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization is about putting you at the top of what is known as "organic search results". So where there are no more ads. The advantage: you get permanently free visitors - in the technical jargon SEO traffic. And precisely those visitors who enter something on Google for which you have a solution. So potential customers. That can develop into a huge stream of income.

The disadvantages or tasks: This technique is demanding. There are many different factors as to why a page is on the front and why not. First you should always create an SEO concept or an SEO strategy. And: There is no result at the push of a button. It takes time. It's an investment.

Internet Advertising / Online Advertising Budget: How Much Do You Want To Invest - And How Much Do You Have To Invest?

How much do you want and have to invest in order to attract and win customers? In all honesty: anything is possible between 1,000 euros and 100,000 euros. There is no point in naming a sum. You have to do it differently.

What do you want to achieve?

Everyone wants as many new customers as possible. It is easy. But how many customers do you specifically need per month, per year? What is the minimum turnover you have to make with these customers in order to write a black zero or to make a certain profit? You can then use this to set your yardstick and calculate how much advertising you have to do in order to reach this number of customers. As a general rule, if you have a hundred people visit your website, maybe one person will sign up and ask.

What measures?

If you choose to advertise online, we recommend pull advertising. Because here potential customers are already actively looking for a product or service. Search engine optimization brings you permanent visitors and interested parties to your site. However, it takes time to achieve good positions at the top of the search results - at least a few months, often longer. So it's a medium to long term investment. Ads on Google can complement this (Google Ads).

Who does it?

You basically have two options: Either you hire an agency. Or you can learn it yourself. An online marketing agency usually costs a five-figure amount per year. The alternative: you make yourself smart. For example in a workshop for search engine optimization. There you will learn how to develop and implement an SEO strategy for yourself. Search engine optimization is a craft that every entrepreneur can acquire.

Example: This is how customers search on the Internet

How potential customers search for products and services locally

Many companies have the impression that they are known throughout the city. After all, they've been in business for years. Other companies that are even younger often do marketing at the beginning. But then they let it go again. But there is movement in every city, in every district, in every region.

Let's take a big city like Cologne. According to the city's statistical yearbook, 50,000 to 60,000 new people move to Cologne - every year. They are all “moved in”.

As a rule, this means: You don't know any craftsmen, electricians, doctors, hairdressers, bike shops, car workshops, places of leisure or sports. The list is a long one.

How do all the new residents find a provider in their area in a matter of seconds? Via search engines!

An example: Imagine you have just moved to Cologne. When you move in, you break a window glass. Cell phone pulled out and searched: "Glaser + Cologne", "Broken window glass + how expensive", "Replace glass + craftsman + Cologne"

And then you decide on a provider. And quickly. Because it will soon be evening and the cold air is drawing into your new apartment ... Conclusion: Google does not arouse demand, it covers it. The customers have a specific problem - and are looking for specific help right now.


How often people search for a specific topic can be found out and analyzed using various software. In this way you can tailor your website to exactly the right terms ("keywords").

You can also measure on your website how many people have been there, which pages have been visited and how many deals have been made. In this way you can continuously improve your online advertising and make it more and more efficient.

In our SEO workshop you will learn which software tools are available, how to use these tools and what you have to do on your part.

Short exercise to test yourself:

Get an overview (please write down):

  1. Which regional search terms could your prospects enter? Which cities or places near you are still interesting? Enter these regional searches on Google as well.
  2. Make a note of the places in which your company website is located for the respective regional search terms.

Three examples of how companies win customers over the Internet

Customer acquisition in an online shop

An online shop invests in search engine optimization over many years. The result: It is listed very well among thousands of terms on Google. Several thousand visitors come to the website of the online shop every day. Some of them are continuously acquired as new customers. Two employees work continuously on search engine optimization in the company. You write texts, maintain photos and always have a look at the ranking.

New guests for a hotel

A hotel owner is annoyed by the fact that he is becoming more and more dependent on bookings via Internet platforms (OTAs). He wants to keep his independence and therefore invests in search engine optimization and search engine marketing. He uses ads to find out which search terms he uses to win customers. At the same time, he invests in informative advice texts on his website and rises up in the Google ranking. At the same time, he helps his hotel guests with the new editorial content.

New customers for a craft business

A young craft business wants to win many more customers regionally. The problem: there are many established craftsmen in the region. But they don't care about the Internet because their order books are full. The young craft business, on the other hand, relies on Internet advertising. With a fresh website, he is already clearly different from his competitors. In addition, he took care of being easily visible on Google.

6 tips to win customers online

Tip 1: Clear target group

Every advertising measure is only really good when you have a clear idea of ​​who you want to win as a customer. Because then you can tailor photos, texts and your offers precisely to this group of people. On the other hand, you shouldn't limit yourself too much, stay flexible and above all: test. If you have several target groups, develop several sub-pages for them.

Tip 2: a separate text for each offer

Many companies write a long list of what they offer. The customer only gets a few bullet points. But that is often not enough. Go a different way: develop your own professional text for each offer, which is on its own subpage. So you each have an individual link that you can send.

Tip 3: standardized offers

Many companies write individual orders. Another option is to develop a standardized offer. So you don't have to recalculate everything every time. You gain experience and become more efficient. You can process more jobs because you get the job done faster and you can assess it better.

Tip 4: No sales pitches

Do you also know the column of handles at the front door? Are you annoyed by that too? Then let it be. A good sales pitch is not a hype. Explain objectively and clearly what you are doing (performance), what it brings (benefits) and how much it costs.

Tip 5: It doesn't have to be a blog

Many entrepreneurs and self-employed people think they need to blog now. But that's only one possibility. You can also go other ways. You need editorial content (texts, photos, maybe even videos). But you don't have to post something every week. This is usually much too time-consuming.

Tip 6: measure, measure, measure

Internet advertising has one great advantage: you can measure anything. The visitor data is anonymous. But you can find out how many visitors are on your page, which pages are visited and how many inquiries or sales you generate from them. From this you in turn derive measures for improvements.

Acquiring customers over the Internet: The opposite of cold calling

It is a horror for many entrepreneurs. You have to call potential customers "coldly" and convince them of yourself. You act as your own salesperson. That is often uncomfortable. But above all, it is time-consuming and leads to poor results. When in doubt, burn your name. With us you go the opposite way: You build a system in which potential new customers contact you. It's a more convenient way of acquiring new customers. You can usually save yourself cold calling.

New customers or existing customers: what is important to you?

Generate new customers

New customers are particularly easy to acquire via the Internet. Because if you are looking for something online, you often have a specific problem, wish or need. Which specific product or service he will use for this has often not yet been clarified. Often, it has not yet been decided which company to go to. The customer is comparatively at the beginning of his purchase decision - or as it is called in English "customer journey".

Hold a customer

A new customer is a good thing. But the acquisition is also time-consuming. It is ideal if every new customer buys from you a second time or even becomes a regular customer. Follow-up orders or regular customers are very valuable. It usually costs a lot less to activate. Search engine optimization plays a less important role here. Strategies like email marketing are more important. However, it is always about the added value you deliver - and whether you are worth buying a second time from you.

The Ulm start-up region introduces itself.