I have a question as to how to market something that's in a rather saturated market.
It's a hosting company that's just getting started. Hosting's a tough nut to crack. How would you market something like that online?
I know there are some hosting companies that have some sort of special hook like "100% windmill powered" etc. What if your hosting company doesn't have something, in particular, to differentiate themselves from other hosting companies?
What are some ways to market a company in a saturated market?
In my opinion, the hosting business is all about service/support. We all know that servers crash, in all hosting companies, that there are datacenter and network problems with all hosting companies. What makes them different is the action/reaction to those situations.
A really important thing to me is the "proactivity" of a hosting company, i mean, are they doing everything possible, taking all preventive measures to avoid costs/losses etc when something really bad happens? Are they doing server maintenance? What about backups?
In my case, i prefer to pay more for a hosting service and rest assured that all these tasks are taken care than to be sorry later for a severe crash or whatever may happen (believe me, they will happen sooner or later).
So, to answer your question, if you want to market web hosting, start by providing very good support (nothing more frustrating than seeing that the support staff don't know what is happening or what to do) and maintenance/preventive plan. Prospective customers will feel confident and pay you good money for it.
What Rui is true but there are other ways to look at it as well.
While this isn't the only way to do it, a way that I've seen work (well I presume it worked) is running an affiliate program. Giving people an incentive to promote you, along with great customer service at great prices (hell, we know there is a lot of margin in hosting so long as you do it right) and you'll have the trifecta.
The other option is differentiation. Make yourself stand out from the competition somehow. Maybe go shoot an elephant (poor reference to those who know what happened there)... But if you go this route, keep in mind the channel everyone is listening to: WIIIFM... What Is In It For Me. Customers don't care about you, they care about what you can do for them. To make their lives just a little better than anyone else can do.
Hosting is difficult because it's not only over saturated - it's over saturated by extremely cheap and good options.
To be successful you have to do something different (it's unlikely you can compete with GoDaddy and friends on price).
You can go after small niches (for example - hosting for furniture stores*), by creating offers that are specifically tailored to the specific audience - especially if those are non-technical people that will have an hard time configuring the servers themselves - you can probably take over such a small market - then repeat for other small markets.
You can also go for a technical niche (example, best phpBB** hosting) - this will let you specialize in one thing and charge more money because you have the experts at the software you are hosting.
Or you try to specialize in support, if you make the signup process completely painless, give every new customer a lot of personal attention and help (this is the important part - this can't be automated) and of course give excellent support when something bad happens people will be willing to pay extra and will recommend you to their friends.
Anyway, the key is that you should differentiate, that differentiation doesn't necessarily changes the core service you are providing but without it you are just another commodity competing against $5/month services from big reliable companies.
* - I tried to pick an obviously bad example, don't blame me
if there's no market for furniture stores web hosting.
** - another obviously bad example, please please please don't
encourage any one to use phpBB
"It's a hosting company that's just getting started. Hosting's a tough nut to crack."
(Then why start it? I think it'll take 10x more effort on your part to make the tiniest impression on the user's part that you have great service let alone the value of that since hosting is all about running on auto.
People value great service when the product/service is custom - when it's a commodity they just want price and reliability. I can tell you as a goDaddy customer I've had some terrible service...doesn't make me switch because their size means reliability and that's what I'm buying...willing to accept very infrequent bad service for the peace of mind of certainty on a $8 a month service.
Great service would matter major big time if you were building me a custom network OR selling hosting for a sophisticated niche service like ColdFusion hosting... I pay a premium for that and I strongly value the support I get.)