Hi.

I would like someone to throw some light on marketing methods and hopefully get a discussion going here which can be useful to people on board and also others.

We guys are a small, three people software company.
Fortunately or unfortunately for us -- all three of us are engineers - hard core developers.

One of us handles the UI and front end, one of us does the business logic while the third handles all the database and backend requirements.
I wouldn't say we are geniuses - but are pretty adept at what we do.
In turn, we do write some good software - but it all ends there.

We identify a problem - think about it and realise that there are many others who'd be in the same boat - and churn out a solution to the problem.

The problem for us here is - how do we get the word out to enough people to get the ball rolling?
Earlier on, we believed in the adage - "Build and they shall come"

However, off late, we have realised that that isn't entirely true. We need to build enough traction earlier on to get enough early adopters on board to get the rock rolling down the hill.
We do manage to do some marketing (email friends and acquaintances, get your product reviewed by reviewers, participate in forums, etc) but it is just not enough.

I would be grateful if people here who have gone through the same thing, can help me with the following questions.

1. Any tips on reaching a sizable target audience quickly (besides mass mailing your friends and families)

2. Does it make sense to purposely reduce the scope of your product to address a particular niche (even though it could address a larger audience) - just because you will be able to market to the niche better earlier on?
(I think I know the answer to this)

3. What are the ways in which people on this network have managed to get projects (services) to work on? I realise that this is an important source of revenue for bootstrapped startups (especially us) who are testing grounds with their product ideas. All the projects we have gotten so far have been through people who have used our product (ActiveCiti) and came to know about us through that.

4. Any other thoughts and experiences that anyone would like to share? This would go a long way in helping us...

I'm sorry if this posts sounds somewhat naive. (I guess we guys are.)
We have realised off-late that we cannot market ourselves or our products very well - so are all ears and ready to soak in any pointers that might come our way.

Thank you.

Saurabh Jain
ThinkingSpace Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
http://www.thinkingspace.in

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Here are some half-baked thoughts that came to my mind.

1. Describe what your startup does here, so that people can give suggestions specific to your niche. (I did visit ActiveCiti and figured out what it is, but not everyone will.)

2. Do you go to barcamps, POCC meetings, other user-group meetings? In Pune, and in other places (e.g. there was a Startup Saturday in Bombay this weekend.) I've noticed that those are good places to get some traction, visibility and make new contacts - that will help both, your quest for users of ActiveCiti and customers for services.

3. Of the people who have already tried your service, is there a sizeable fraction who love it so much that they can't stop talking about it whenever the issue of organizing events/meetings comes up? If not, (i.e. if the only feedback you are getting is "Yes, this is good," but not "I've been looking for this for years") you are doing something wrong and need to tweak your offering a bit. In my opinion, marketing is useful only after your product has reached this stage.

In my case, I did not feel like trying ActiveCiti out because when I need to set up a meeting, at least half the communication that happens is over SMS/phone. Unless you can tie that in somehow, it is not useful for me. (And if you already have these features, then you need to splash that fact on the front page.)

4. Try to insert yourselves into managing the event co-ordination for POCC meetings, CSI Pune lectures, PMI-Pune monthly meetings, and other groups that regularly hold meetings (see http://punetech.com/category/events/). That should give you some visibility. (and also feedback on whether the service is useful.)

Hope this helps.

navin.
Also, your service is an ideal candidate for offering to people as facebook and orkut applications. That has in-built marketing potential, and it would be easier to use than coming to your website.
Hi Navin,

Thanks for taking the time out to reply. I agree with all your points though I feel I relate maximum to point 3 that you made.

We need to do some serious thinking on some of the issues that you mentioned and figure out a way in which we can actively chase a particular (or all) approaches.

The cell phone / SMS feature that you suggested is spot on - and we're working to get that in. Thanks again for your suggestions and feedback. I really appreciate it.

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