Be careful with customization for a particular client
It almost never pays off.
There will be opportunities where the right partnership seems like a dream. You’ll work together and so well that you’ll both blow up.
The reality, in our experience, is very dull.
And the results are very underwhelming, in our experience.
A great result is that you will see a bump in your numbers that tapers off very quickly. It is unlikely that there will be any long-term effects.
But, in all likelihood, not much will happen. Perhaps, a slight and very short-term increase in traffic.
For partnerships with other startups, it’s almost a certainty that nothing will happen.
First of all, integrating with other small startups rarely has any measurable effect. If both companies are struggling to acquire customers individually, neither can afford to put in the needed effort to promote the partnership sufficiently. So, you’ll put in potentially a lot of work and gain nothing.
Integrating with a significant potential client, on the other hand, nearly always means that you’ll be the one doing all the work. In this case, it’s prudent to minimize the actual work done for the partnership alone. In addition, you should try to recoup the cost of the work immediately.
In Supplybunny, we had experience with this from our previous companies and were aware of this trap. Instead, what we did was make use of existing features to fulfill the requirements.
For instance, one potential partner wanted us to build an API so that they could generate coupon codes. Making a fully-fledged feature would have required quite a lot of development effort. Instead, I manually created 2000 codes and gave them an excel file with all of them. It took about 10 minutes. They could then make the API entirely on their end if they so chose. They ended up using only about ten codes.
We “integrated” with another startup simply by tracking sessions with a UTM tag.
You can do this by estimating the cost of the development work versus the immediate benefit you receive, such as publicity or a short-term increase in sales.
We created a bespoke feature that ended up being used by only three suppliers. But, they made up a decent chunk of our GMV, and this change had a significant positive impact on their sales. Therefore, the immediate benefit justified the development effort.
And if you see that you must develop something, first make high fidelity mockups. Only start building once the ink is dry and there is a specific commitment from both sides.
- Customer you cannot afford to lose
The dangers of getting tied to one particular client.
- Jack Altman on Twitter saying nearly the same thing.
"My experience is this is almost never worth it."
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