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Paper info: The Use of a Customer Reference for Marketing in Start-Up Technology Companies - A Constructive Study


The Use of a Customer Reference for Marketing in Start-Up Technology Companies - A Constructive Study


Jari Ruokolainen
Helsinki University of Technology
Jari Ruokolainen

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 23rd IMP-conference in Phuket, Thailand in 2007.


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Purpose: Start-up technology companies producing complex products often have problems with market entry due to several reasons. The technology market seems to be volatile and technology entrepreneurs tend to concentrate on technological issues. In addition, small companies face severe problems in marketing including designing the content of promotional media, selecting media and conducting market research. The purpose of this paper is to support the market entry of start-up technology companies by creating a construction for producing marketing materials based on a customer reference. This study describes the related content to be used in building the relationship with the next potential customers. Methodology: This study applies a constructive research approach in order to contribute both scientific and practical knowledge. The construction has been created with the help of a literature review and tested by two customer reference cases: one with a company producing a web-based solution for a government organization, and the other is a company producing accounting software for a computer reseller. Findings: In start-up technology companies the creation of a market message based on customer references could take a qualitative approach, the intention being to increase understanding, instead of a quantitative approach, where the intention is to rely on statistical evidence. The latter is used mainly by large companies who have several customer references. Originality: This is one of the first papers to discuss a solution on how a start-up technology company should use a customer reference for creating marketing materials.Keywords: Start-up technology companies, market entryPaper type: Research / Case study