Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Your product is your company’s primary selling point, but it doesn’t have to be the only feature. In fact, when companies open up their products to integrations with third-party software, they unlock an entire world of possibilities. In the years since releasing our flagship product, the smart video intercom, the ButterflyMX team and I have made a pointed effort to expand our reach by integrating our software with third-party products.
For example, just this year, we partnered with RemoteLock so that our unified access control solutions now connect to more than 80 smart locks to seamlessly provide building and apartment unit access from our mobile app. This has significantly expanded our products’ capabilities without the time, energy and financial investment of launching an entirely new product, which has helped grow our business substantially.
If you’re at the helm of a startup looking to expand your product’s reach, consider integrating with other software.
Related: Challenges that Companies Face in Software Integration
What are the benefits of integrating your product with other software?
No matter what product or service you offer, by integrating with other software, you combine various platforms into one unified software architecture. And by creating a large, integrated system, you increase functionality and convenience for consumers.
Further, integrating your product with other software expands your product’s capabilities without the need to develop new products. Software integrations allow you to advance and expand your product faster because you exponentially increase its capabilities. Software integrations also offer an easy way to advance professional relationships with other companies in the industry.
Why are partnerships important?
When you’re building a company from the ground up, you must develop partnerships. Across all industries, the leading companies boast multiple integrations. In fact, the average SaaS (software-as-a-service) company has 15 integrations. However, some SaaS companies boast upwards of 500 integrations. By partnering with another company in your industry, you become a part of their growth. Then, when their product succeeds, so does yours, and vice versa.
One of the biggest advantages of establishing integration partners is enhanced company growth by expanding your user base. Not only are you giving your customers a new tool or feature — leading to higher customer retention — but you’re also opening your business up to an entirely new customer base. With a partnership in place, you can expand your customer base and add new users with ease.
Overall, developing deep business partnerships and software integrations will grow your business short- and long-term. In fact, you can think of new integrations as a new sales channel. You’re adding your products and services to an entirely new marketplace.
Because your software integrations should be with companies in your industry or a related one, you’ll be selling to new customers with a similar customer profile. This means your product will inherently address their needs.
How to approach partnerships as a startup
So, you’ve decided it’s time to grow your company by enabling third-party software integrations. But how do you go about finding worthwhile partners? First, you need to look for companies whose customers match your ICP, or ideal customer profile. An ideal customer profile is a detailed outline of your company’s ideal client. The ICP is used to adjust marketing and lead generation tactics.
By working with companies whose ICP matches yours, you increase the likelihood that their customers will find value in your product and vice versa. But remember, software integration isn’t a completely smooth process. The more integrations you enable, the more maintenance you’ll perform. Additionally, when changes are necessary, you must obtain approval from teams at both companies rather than just your own.
So, ensure you have an internal team who can dedicate their time primarily to building the integration from the ground up and maintaining it post-launch to address and solve problems.
Related: How to Use Strategic Partnerships for More Explosive Growth
How to integrate your product with other services
While software integration presents a unique and valuable opportunity for your business, partnerships aren’t guaranteed to succeed without hard work. In addition to a relevant and high-quality software integration, you need a robust strategic outline.
Make sure you put your customers’ needs above all else. When building your software integrations, consider which products your customers already use, what kind of systems they may want to integrate with and how a specific integration can improve their experience with your product.
Further, ensure that your integration has longevity by creating a strong foundation for your partnership. Integrations aren’t a quick hack to multiply your customer base. Instead, you should develop integrations with long-term business goals in mind. Then, with each new iteration of your integration, take into account customer feedback to improve the integration and your product overall.
Read the full article here