How would you market your service to a start-up?


I run a web solutions business and have helped start-ups implement their web strategies. Although, at this point it is pertinent for me to proactively approach new start-ups that are cash-rich and can afford my services. I often run into independent entrepreneurs who may or may not have the money to get started with me which doesn't help.

If you are a start-up, where would you look for a web strategy solutions company? (Not a freelancer but a full-fledged company that can manage a large project).

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asked Oct 31 '09 at 00:16
Dhaval Doshi
29 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

6 Answers


Why do you want to market to the exact audience that has the least money to spend? Startups are broke and cheap. Don't waste your time. Market to successful, more established companies.

answered Jan 29 '10 at 12:50
Joel Spolsky
13,482 points


First, the obvious questions:

What is a web strategy solutions company? (Sounds kind of like Dilbert. It would be better if, when introducing your company, you say what you do a little more concretely)

Why would a startup need you, given that startups usually have good/sufficient in-house technical knowledge?

Why is a "full-fledged company" better than a freelancer?

answered Oct 31 '09 at 01:45
Gabriel Magana
3,103 points
  • Great questions. As a new start-up, I haven't got a clue what this does for me, and thus I have zero desire to engage in conversation around such a nebulous concept. – Josh Sam Bob 14 years ago
  • As mentioned, I'm referring to 'solutions' such as web design, development, domains, hosting, online marketing services such as SEO, SEM, etc.; web-related intellectual property management (mainly domains, legal counsel against cyber squatters) It would be wrong to assume that 'all' startups have the sufficient in-house technical knowledge, as all startups are not 'tech startups'. In fact, I'm working with a biotech startup which has no idea about its website related needs. Again (in my experience), full-fledged companies do a much better job at quality and delivery times. – Dhaval Doshi 14 years ago
  • You seem annoyed at my questions, and also hint that I making you repeat yourself. No, you did not mention what you mean by "solutions." You did not state before that you believe full-fledged companies do a much better job than freelancers. Anyway, you would do well to elaborate without having the prospect ask (Who asks for more details about something they probably are not interested in?). Or maybe you are assuming you are not marketing right now... – Gabriel Magana 14 years ago
  • I'm not annoyed by your questions. Otherwise, I would have cared less to clarify what I mean. Thanks for your inputs and suggestions. But wait... :-) – Dhaval Doshi 14 years ago


I'm not a marketeer - as my coach will confirm! - and so would not give you marketing advice. However, when you find a prospect, it is not only the services you offer which will determine whether they buy from you. You might therefore find the latest post on my blog 'Using your Terms and Conditions as a Sales Tool' of interest.

Here is the link:

answered Oct 31 '09 at 01:59
Margaret Burrell
101 points


What do you offer that is

  1. More than I can get from a freelancer, or a developer and graphics designer?
  2. That I can't do in-house, as I probably have technical people, and can contract for the parts I can't do.

It seems that by focusing on startups, who I expect won't be throwing money around, as they need to be very frugal, that you would have to offer a ROI that is very high.

And if the startup is in the development (pre-first release) stage, this is an important time for them to get some web presence, but they may not have much extra money, as they have no cash coming in right now.

Besides, if a startup probably won't have a large project needed on website development.

I think you may want to change your focus a bit, or fine-tune what you are offering, and make certain it is apparent what you can offer to a startup.

answered Oct 31 '09 at 02:28
James Black
2,642 points


I have a friend who has a similar business. The way I helped him market was to get him in touch with organizations that organize entrepreneurial events or run large blogs related to entrepreneurship and startups.

This is a pretty good route as it simplifies your marketing activities. You go to one source and if you can impressive them they can send out an email to all the startups on their list to ask them whether they require any assistance in the area's where you can help them.

So check out what sort of organizations or blogs are famous in the countries that you want to target and then start building relationships with them.

answered Oct 31 '09 at 04:22
Usman Sheikh
1,728 points
  • That's a great marketing tactic. Thanks for that tip Usman! – Dhaval Doshi 14 years ago


My dev shop targets a similar market and the only thing that has really worked for me is in-person networking and getting to know the local entrepreneur community. I'm not exactly in a good area for startups so it represents only part of our client base/revenue, but there are founders everywhere and there are founders with money.

I used to do more marketing/my website used to speak more to startups, but most of the people who contacted me cold/were not referred to me weren't the types of clients I wanted and I didn't/wouldn't enjoy their projects very much. So any "traditional" marketing I do is geared around established businesses, and most of my networking is geared around finding startups who need dev help.

So my advice is network, network, network. Off-line.

I've thought about trying to build up my on-line network a bit but frankly I think my time will be better spent driving to nearby cities and participating in networking events for entrepreneurs in person. There's just something about meeting people in person the leads to better referrals.

answered Jan 30 '10 at 03:02
Scott Drake
81 points

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