I know little (okay, nothing) in marketing... I have the checklist from Bob Walsh (of 47 hats) as to what steps to take next with respect to targeting my prospective clientele and building out a marketing plan...
Do I need any software (preferably online and free) that can actually help here? Cranking open an excel spreadsheet feels somewhat archaic.
You don't strictly need a tool, especially if you work alone. However, I'd suggest you to use a CRM software to keep track of all the interactions between you (and your co-founder/employees) and your prospective customers.
As XS Direct pointed out, Salesforce.com is the usual suspect. But it is also expensive.
A good free alternative is SugarCRM. It is sold as a service, but the software is open source so you can actually download it and install in your server. The downside is that it is a complete CRM solution, and it can be difficult for a non-marketing expert to understand the terminology used and its functionalities.
The good thing of SugarCRM is that it allows you to do many things, like (of course) storing customer data, interactions with them and creating e-mail campaigns.
ZohoCRM is an alternative, as it offers a free version, but I personally haven't tried it.
Other tools you might find useful:
I by no means consider myself a "marketing wiz" but I have some insights I can share. Having my first coffee before daybreak today I have a few minutes so let me begin by saying that putting "lipstick on the pig" so to speak is not going to fly if you will go for investor money. With the DOT.COM bubble meltdown investors are being uber critical and conservative. Your product will need many indicators to be considered.
When you mention "marketing" it needs to be elaborated on. Do you mean some flashy words like below?
CURRENT "B2B business, cloud-computing. Will be finding ways to market to IT departments (from CTO down to developers and administrators). Targeting companies and people individually." :( as opposed to
NEW "Our cloud computing technology will allow IT professionals and individuals alike to take grasp of emerging cloud-computing methodology to effectively _ __ (save time and money?) Our product helps advance companies by offering ___ ___ (services) in a rapid and user friendly environment." :) Or do you mean on you need help on how exactly you should "market" your product to the client base?
ie; product introduction, delivery method etc.
These are two very separate thoughts. Hope this helps.
ahhh... a contact manager there's some new slick ones out now.. this one is real popular