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Developing Your Business By Marketing Your API

Last week, Alex Williams posted a list in ReadWriteWeb’s Cloud Computing channel of the “!0 Common Mistakes Made by API Providers.” Alex’s post points to some of the problems that occur in both the technical and the business realms of API development. In the case of the latter, he lists “Poor Community Management” and “Not Recognizing the API as a Core Line of Business” as common business-related errors.

The API has long been seen as a cornerstone of BizDev 2.0, a term coined by Hunch co-founder Caterina Fake. But parallel perhaps to the misconception that “if you build (a product), they will come,” is the notion that simply because you’ve developed an API for your business that you have, in fact, upgraded your business development to that 2.0 level.

Hunch’s VP of Business Development, Shaival Shah has written a post along these lines today, with suggestions on how to “Cannabilize Business Development by Popularizing your API.” As Shah writes, the challenge isn’t simply to build an API: “the great challenge is how to market your API so that people know a) that it is available, b) how/why to use it and 3) what value they can generate from it.”

Shah stresses the marketing of the API and gives the following as goals for doing so:

  1. Developing market awareness about your service and about the availability of your API
  2. Nailing three partner use-cases that are reusable across the market
  3. Establishing metrics for success and developing analytics so you can preserve future monetization options

As Shah notes, the idea of a “self-service” API may be a misnomer, particularly at the beginning, when there are still a lot of “hand-to-hand deals” in order to get those initial partnerships established. From there, Shah invokes the “bowling pin strategy” – finding a niche, then leveraging that to knock down surrounding markets.

Shah argues that this API-oriented business development should be less sales- and more product-oriented. And in the end, suggests Shah describing his own goals for his biz dev role at Hunch, this will “cannibalize” the business development function by popularizing the API.

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