How can a startup market its services, without having an impressive portfolio or clientele?


I am asking particularly about software and IT services company, but I think question can be answered generally as same dilemma is shared by entrepreneurs of different industries.

Marketing Sales

asked Dec 22 '11 at 23:00
179 points
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3 Answers


Basically you are going to have to do something to convince people they should use your software/service. You do not state what specifically you are offering, so I will address a couple of cases.

If you are offering contract programming by the hour and are looking for your first customer, you may have to simply offer someone a deal that is too good to pass up; you need to prove yourself. Start with a small project so that you will not loose your shirt and find a client that will give you the job with the offer that they don't need to pay you until the job is done and they are happy with it. They should also agree before you start that will be willing to serve as a reference (assuming you do a good job) Once you have one project under your belt than number two will be much easier to get.

If you are trying to sell a software product, offer a free trial. This is common in the software industry. Put it on a website and allow people to register and download a time limited version.

For software as a service (SaaS) offer a similar free trial.

answered Dec 22 '11 at 23:16
Jonny Boats
4,848 points
  • Thanks for your valuable ideas - they are brilliant. I am specifically asking for marketing services for mobile and social media apps development. Can you add more to your answer for these particular kind of services. Much appreciated. – Ali 12 years ago
  • Ali: Are you selling apps or offering to develop apps for others? – Jonny Boats 12 years ago
  • I am offering to develop Facebook and Android/iPhone apps for others. – Ali 12 years ago


I am in the mist of doing this exact thing. First, I started with Google AdWords which was an expensive bust then I read a few blogs on start ups that pointed me in the direction of starting small and building from there. Define who your target market is and talk to them. Find out what they want and advertise your service to them as well as be ready to make adjustments. So, making connections with people and being flexible is the key.

answered Dec 22 '11 at 23:17
670 points
  • Thanks Tim for your valuable input. Good luck for your venture :). I am also thinking of starting in this very manner - initial marketing through PPC (Google Adwords) and later on through SEO. I am only concerned what will I tell leads/potential customers if they ask about what work I have done previously. I am sure your idea of making connections and establishing network will help. Thanks. If you can add more to your answer to share your experience, I would be really thankful. Good luck again. – Ali 12 years ago
  • If you're going to be offering IT services then you will have to establish trust, no way around it. There are a few good ways to do this. You can widdle your way down to your absolute target niche market and either advertise directly to them or participate in forums that they frequent ... this is where you will need to get creative especially if you are going to do this on a shoe string budget. I recommend reading the following blogs, these really helped me concentrate my sales efforts. http://www.softwarebyrob.comTim 12 years ago
  • Thanks Tim for further elaborating your answer. Really appreciated. – Ali 12 years ago
  • Anytime Tim - VA – Tim 12 years ago


You need to bring relevant traffic to your web site by means of adwords or yahoo marketing. There are many aspect of such a move including design of landing page, design of web site. You will need to speak to a really good web designer or post a job on

Micro site also work very well. If you have a focused product or service you can create a micro site exclusively for that service / product free from all clutter of a corporate web site.

answered Dec 23 '11 at 00:40
Natwar Lath
294 points
  • Good idea! I will research and further explore idea of Micro site. Thanks. – Ali 12 years ago

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