How do I effectively market my software development company?
I'm a software developer. I'm very good at it and I love doing it. I've work for a lot of large companies over the years and for the last year and a half have been running my own software development company. I can't complain, I've done very well considering all my work has come via word-of-mouth. I'm staying busy, but I'd like to expand further. Unfortunately I don't really like going to meetups or cold-calling companies. I prefer to sit and write good code. I would love to have someone working with me that can help secure new clients, but I have no idea how to find such a person. Where should I look?
Hello sir, There are many options you can use depending upon type of candidate you want. There are many known sites that conduct aptitude test and help companies to find good candidates.
I'm a type of person who prefers sit and do what I love doing (just like you:)). When it came to marketing, I turned to the guys from http://thecmoclub.com/ company for assistance. They managed to prepare a solid marketing plan for me. It helped me land a great number of new customers.
IT provider looking entering the outsourcing market.
Ask for objective analyst opinions. Advice from industry analysts with experience in the outsourcing industry and managed solutions companies are extremely valuable. It is important to try to schedule meetings with them or attend conferences where they speak to benefit from their experience regarding client experience, vision and even marketing strategy.
Attend industry forums. These are a good method to find out the challenges, success stories and achievements other outsourcing companies dealt with in time. The interactive format supports business prospects to find answers to their specific questions and encourages creating new partnerships.
Leverage the media. Media is extremely powerful and influential for educating potential clients about outsourcing trends and solutions. Contributing to publications that feature customer case studies is a good starting point. Also, quoting industry experts, publishing opinion articles authored by outsourcing company experts or guest blogging are some other techniques that might help in this situation.
Evaluate your partnership strategy. Partners are also extremely important for a new outsourcing company. SMBs are usually attracted to the large outsourcing companies’ expertise. Hence, when targeting this category, a partnership strategy helps a lot the business.
Your effective strategy can depend upon several factors, but here are few basics to get you begin:
1. Define your target market - The U.S. isn't single market, but many. The middle East includes multiple, varied markets. Thus define your best client in these locations. Who would want your software and why?
2. Prioritize your markets- Once you've known your target audiences, decide that of them make the most sense to focus on first.
3. Develop a marketing strategy for reaching your audience - Do you need to pursue a primarily outbound strategy, such as PPC or inbound ways like social media and content marketing?
4. Establish a marketing budget- Spending too several can be as harmful as spending too little. the most effective strategy for your company will depend, in part, on your budget.
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Put an ad on Craigslist. I know it sounds crazy but lots of talented people are on it every day looking for just such a job as you are describing.
Keep up with the word of mouth and think about advertising and some trade shows.
So there are a few different ways you could approach a "go to market" strategy depending on the amount of marketing capital you have available.
Top tier sales / business development guys do not work on commission only simply because their time and relationships are more valuable than you or your product. These guys will want a pretty significant monthly retainer to ensure you are serious and not a fly by night operation. The guys willing to work only on commission will never be dedicated enough to selling strictly your product -- they are looking for the quick and easy dollars.
So if capital is available (say $5000 -$7,500) per month then I would retainer a firm like mine to build your business. If capital is an issue I would consider identifying about 10 marketing agencies you'd like to target, contact the owner/president and offer to work with them on development related issues at a reduced rate (maybe 50% off) in exchange for building you a website and providing you a PPC. After about 3-4 months you should be able positive on the money spent.
An excellent, affordable software developer is always in demand and you just have to sell the vision properly. If you're interested in talking or discussing options farther email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Best of Luck
PS - I am very experienced in developing markets by bootstrapping
Got good answers; yet try the practical way - trying blogging.
How about hiring some of the wonderful sales and marketing personnel that you have met at the already successful businesses you have worked at? perhaps you could start them on a part-time basis, and work from there? This is the path that we followed.
First off , if you are building your business so far just by word of mouth alone, that is a phenomenal compliment to your ability. Now it seems though you need to add some true business development and sales function and there are a few ways you might explore to yield positive results. We too have been fortunate to run our business from referral primarily but I have an aggressive approach to really ramp up our services now as well and put in place a lot of 'practice what we preach' to our high tech clientele. Once you decide where you sit in terms of how you want to invest into your business that may guide you as to how much you could invest into the strategic side of things with a marketing plan, which may involve a mix of inbound and outbound strategies. The other compliment is finding a person able to literally take your story to the street as a business and opportunity creator in hopes to drum you up more business. The skill set of that person will vary depending on your budget and down right luck in finding the right person for the right cost, at the right timing, that fits well with your vision. We recently brought on our first official business developer , a full commission direct drive consultant from the ad agency world who understood our business and the prospective targets we are going after. We actually met at a Trade show we both attended a few months earlier. He has the know how, drive and energy let alone confidence in how he can convey our value. The positives are you aren't paying a person like this a salary, but the commission due if successful would be a higher piece then you would pay an employee for success. There is a trade off. Now at this stage where it's really just you in the business, paying a full time sales person who is capable at software development project sales could crush you in terms of cost for a salary. The tricky part is finding someone of skill willing to work on pure direct drive even temporarily like our guy or some mix of a modest retainer plus success fee. Our guy signed a 6 month term but he has other businesses he consults for and that's fine by us at this stage because as a small firm, we too are trying to measure how much we can take on board at full capacity so you need to gear up slowly and gage things accordingly. The negative with finding a capable direct drive person like my guy , is that they could also almost break your company if they are too successful too quickly. A good problem to have but I think you can understand what I mean as a small business. You should start a few discussions about looking for a key business developer that can share in the business even at the beginning as a trial test or part time. Give the person a piece of equity after a set trial period perhaps, that is fair based on achievements or find someone almost like a sales rainmaker that can work their network periodically for you. I recently met a team of capable ruby rails programmers that are pure code writers and capable, but they pretty much shun public and social avenues. They brought in a lawyer who loves business development, has a network , and is comfortable being the 'face ' of their firm. I believe he gets a share in the overall business with some equity and a deal based on closed business . You would be surprised how strong some entrepreneurs can perform if they know they are in the game with the owners , even a small stake can produce fire walkers. If budget is an issue look to finding a business developer through circles of influence; a small discussion on a linked in group , here in Mosaic, or put a small career ad in LinkedIn. If budget is available , I could gladly outline a number of ways we would recommend in building a software company with proper marketing and Sales strategy. For starters, build or hire someone to build you a website. Then ramp up content marketing to help promote the site, you and your Business as thought leaders , allocate time daily/weekly or hire someone to help you ramp up a social media campaign with decent content across all social media platforms, in particular LinkedIn. You really need to assess how you get your clients and those discussions will greatly help your plan to expand. In the end , if budget is an issue then finding a business development partner or sales partner may be your only option. If you want to chat more privately I can outline a number of points in greater detail in a phone call or I
could even put you in touch with some developers we know in the same boat as you and how they did it. No matter which way to decide this will require some investment of time and possibly require you to be a bit out of your comfort zone, at least in the beginning. Sell your successes man , what did you build and for whom can carry you and your marketing/ sales strategy to new heights. All the best with it, there are a lot of smart people in this forum and I hope my humble two cents here can add to the many great answers you will receive. I wish you all the best of success and congrats on being an entrepreneur.
Matt, this is tricky...the value is not only in development work but also in 'owning' the relationship with the customer. If someone does sales on your behalf and you are topped u with work, he may take that business elsewhere. You have several options, each representing a different growth potential for you:
- work and develop yourself as a high level marketer leveraging your professionalism....you work harder, leave comfort zones but the relationship is with you.
- be a subcontractor for development service providers, you do what you love but your growth will depend on the principal whose long term interests may diverge from yours.
- work via head hunters, middle ground but you still need to decide on your long term plans....growth or dependency.
- there are other options like partnerships and joint ventures which might want to consider if you have the right person for it.
Only you can decide.
I hope to have helped
You need a good marketing plan, starting with a website. But since you can't depend on a website alone to generate business, you need an ongoing marketing strategy which includes SEO, email marketing, and branding. I am a project manager and creative at a website marketing start-up company, Every Echo Media. Message me and I can get you in touch with someone who can explain more comprehensively how our company can market your admirable software development company effectively.
Here are a few notes I am taking away:
"work has come via word of mouth"
"I don't really like going to meetups or cold-calling companies."
"I prefer to build"
"I want someone to work with me to get leads and convert them to clients"
:Your title asks how to market but your final question is related to; "The right person to help"
You might consider responding to "sales people" and listening to their pitches. (not always fun or interesting) If and when you connect with someone who is awesome, you have a few more conversations. You will not be "buying" but in the end may offer them a job. (or opportunity) Thus you steal someone --- but in reality "save them" with your new big opportunity.
There are recruiting companies and head hunters and for a percent of the salary, they will do the work for you.
Craigslist. It continues to work for recruiting.
Every entrepreneur needs 500 friends who will shout out, push, lend a hand and in this case "keep eyes and ears open" to make that special introduction.
If you have a story and vision to conquer the world or change the community, you will find people get excited and will want to give a hand. This is where every social media tool is handy to let your circles know of your next step: "My company is interviewing!" -- note: I did not say hiring, --- "interview".
If you are looking for a "partner" who helps you secure new clients and do so with the same risk and reward as you do.... this will take more than just a couple months. Very risky but possible.
There are many companies who will help you generate leads via the internet.
They create landing pages with their email/phone number and when people respond, they forward to someone who pays for the lead. This can range from $100 each to $250 each.
Inbound marketing is my first choice instead of paying for leads.
http://www.michaelhartzell.com/inbound-marketing/ has a little more information about inbound marketing.
The biggest question I have is around "unhappy people with a dream".
Their are statistics which shows 72% of people are unhappy with their job and looking for new and better opportunities. They are not truly looking but you can certainly hang a few signs out to say: "Hey! Help me conquer the world! Join my team!"
The person who lives, eats and breathes guerrilla marketing might be your best bet as well. You will probably start with about 5 options:
Linkedin profiles as well.
I have an ex-client who uses Linkedin as their primary tool to connect, make introductions, recruit and get business.
Or you may reach out to someone to do it for you:
(I do not know this gentleman)
This article shows ten steps to hiring great sales people.
In then end, you will no longer simply be a builder. You will be a "boss". :)
Managing/leading/motivating your one person (or more) team.
If on the other hand you are able to meet another visionary person who let's say is all about helping businesses move from old to new via mobile, then it is a win-win. You develop the mobile packages and they would promote/create the marketing piece.
This happened several years ago with Hubspot.
Brian and Dharmesh get together. One is NOT a marketer and will tell you so. The other understands sales and marketing.
Now with 11,000 customers, they have built a tool which helps businesses lower the costs of leads and empower them to not wait for "coders". (sorry)
You might be interested in it for you marketing plan because it is designed to help created an engine to take people from stranger to buyer.
> I have "stolen' people from other companies as people tried to sell me.
> I have used Craigslist.
> I have used recruiting companies and paid the fee.
> I have used inbound marketing strategies and software for creating more business.
... and in the middle of each one of them is "introductions" since people are at the center of the next phase in success.
Which works best? It depends. :) I hope you have the same success that Brian and Dharmesh have. They are world class.
I love recruiting and meeting new people. That is because over the last 30 years every time there was a giant leap forward, it was the direct result of a new introduction. (Maybe we can rethink networking opportunities?) :)
I hope these random thoughts are helpful.
I suggest you hire a consultant or a freelancer to help you brainstorm ideas and come up with a plan. If you hate marketing, then you will not do it consistently or effectively. For example, I don't know how to write code, so I hired someone to do my website. Think about your budget and what you would like to accomplish, and then start exploring having someone help you.
I'm with Myles... you need a business plan with strong focus on your MARKETING PLAN. Think STRATEGIC, NOT TACTICAL.
Who is your target market? What industry do you want to write code for?
Is there an industry that is trying to solve a specific problem that you can develop software for to solve that problem?
How can you communicate with your target market consistently for a an affordable cost?
These are some of the strategic questions you need to ask yourself.
I offer free over the phone consultation, you can pick my brain. Go to my site for details. www.MarketingCoachng.ca
If your serious about finding a "Partner" I would like to be considered. I have sales experience in B2B, B2C so no matter what your programing is designed for I can be of help. If programming is what your good at, then that is where you should spend your time. And I am definitely up to the challenge of marketing the program to the end user and/or the sales outlets to get it into the market.
Matt glad to hear you are doing what you love! Just from the fact your doing something your passionate about and love is half the marketing battle. Understandable that marketing yourself and services can be overwhelming when you break off on your own. From reading your followups to current answers it sounds like your heading down the road of hiring a marketing lead to help build a brand behind your work, but cash flow is prohibiting that. What you have now though can do alot! Here are some points I think you could leverage to help bring in some new clients and the cost is minimal, you just need to set aside a few hours a day to get yourself set up. Once you have everything in place, figure in a good 5hrs a week of marketing yourself. Make it routine.
1. Spend a few days really looking at your portfolio, think about what projects and what clients work best for you. Its important to figure out your ideal target market. Take into consideration your geo location and its software development needs. Is there a niche market available locally? Local cold calls are much easier, you get face time without the expensive travel.
2. Utilize LinkedIn, build your profile and pay to have a premium account and take advantage of the benefits. Join relevant groups that potential clients of your target markets would be involved with. Be active in the groups, let people know through discussion that you are an expert in your field.
3. Get your company set up with a Facebook and Twitter page, incorporate your logo and other branding.
4. Setup, or hire someone to design and launch a nice Wordpress site showcasing your previous work and TESTIMONIALS!!! Utilize a responsive theme, work in html5 and make your site follow all current web trends.
5. Continue to network, drive yourself to do it.
As a business owner that contracts out a lot of work I would want to know Matt, not his marketing person. The Meetups, the cold calls, local networking events, these are great resources to introduce yourself and talk about your expertise. Personally I see many companies outsourcing software development, yes some is to india, but plenty are hiring right here in the USA.
No problem if you feel indifferent to outsource any of your work. But, try to make your business a branded. Hopefully, there are various aspects that could do so. Once your company has stepped in the market try to maximize its exposure to the other business personals.
Say, you could try with many social networks that leverages the brand of your business and still, you'd be recognized better.
1. Try with the social communities, participate in any of the groups so that you can have an opportunity to meet different business persons across the globe and make sure that you put a point of your business with them.
2. Your business cards seem to be helpful. Why not give try to it?
3. Your social profiles, blogging (as stated afore), advertising and much more.
You'd certainly need some time to get through the other competitors.
Good luck Matt!
Believe that your business gets paced high!
Matt, since you say all all your work has come via word-of-mouth I think you need to look into taking full advantage of LinkedIn. Get as many of your past clients as possible to give you recommendations on LinkedIn and also consider placing LinkedIn ads.
When you've been able to attract sufficient attention to your work from your target audience and they see all your work/recommendations they’ll start making enquiries. Then you can hire someone on a commission basis to go all meetups on your behalf.
It's a good time to be a software developer, Matt! If you're good at what you do, reaching out social networks, blogging and establishing yourself as an expert should generate enough interest to keep you busy for a long time. There are also plenty of headhunters who specialize in finding contract work for independent developers. Don't forget the dozens of job boards - lots of contract work these days.
Good developers are really hard to find. We are ALWAYS hunting for developers.
(You, like ever other developer I know, would rather code than go to a meet up.)
What languages? Maybe we should talk. :)