Looking to add a new feature to your business? Want to serve your customers in new ways, and one up your competition?
Is your agency, association, eCommerce platform, or software company looking to make an upgrade?
A strategic software partnership could be just what you need.
A software partnership allows you to add new features without:
- Extensive re-branding
- Development and implementation costs and labor
- Research cost
- Drawing focus away from your business
I’ve engaged in many software partnerships over the years, both with my inbound marketing agency, and with RevenueJump.
Not all of them worked out, but I usually knew if it was a good fit within the first couple of months.
If it’s not a good fit? Your customers will tell you.
But, if you’re looking to offer a bit more to your customers and don’t have the time to sink into developing your own software or features, a software partnership is well worth exploring. You just have to be willing to hear your customers out– you can’t force it if it’s not a good fit.
A good software partnership allows you to expand, integrate, market, serve, and get back to work without the headache of developing your own tools or service.
But, as I said, not all software partnerships are good for all companies.
Not Just for Agencies
When you think of software partnerships, or even any white label relationship, you may just think of agencies and software companies.
I know for a long time, I certainly did.
But as I’ve expanded my horizons and worked with a more diverse array of business owners and decision makers, I know software partnerships don’t exist just between agencies and software companies.
A good symbiotic relationship between a business and a third-party software company can take on many forms.
- Agencies – Agencies, particularly marketing and SEO agencies, engage in software partnerships all the time. It allows them to offer expanded services to better serve their clients– if you can convince a client to spend money with you instead of a competitor, or even an agency in another vertical, you’ll be more profitable. It’s as simple as that.
- Associations – Associations can also get a lot of mileage out of software partnerships. An association for dentists might offer a specific piece of inventory and ordering software to the dentists they serve, which is convenient for both parties.
- eCommerce – eCommerce shops, both large and small, rely on software partnerships to thrive. It’s not just about the point of sale system or the method they use to process payments, it’s also about customer service chat, email marketing, re-marketing, and web analytics. Reviews could fit in there nicely, too, of course.
- Software – I never thought about this too much before I started my own software company, but software companies make strategic software partnerships all the time. If you provide inventory control software to dentists, they might be grateful if you bundled it with a piece of software that also handled scheduling and training commitments.
If you’re busy running or marketing a business, you likely don’t have time to develop your own software solution to meet your customers’ needs.
Before I dove head-first into RevenueJump, I looked high and low for a software partner. The problem was, I could never find anything that would meet the exact needs of my inbound marketing clients’ reputation management needs.
So, I had to invest time and money into the creation of my own software.
With any luck, though, you can find a partnership that suits your needs. I believe RevenueJump was a special case.
I founded RevenueJump because I couldn’t find a piece of software that offered all the benefits my clients needed. Some pieces of software came close, but I didn’t want to do anything halfway.
Now, obviously, any software partnership will have to offer specific benefits that align with your customers’ needs. If I haven’t spoken with you on the phone or in person, I don’t know what those needs are.
But I can tell you which benefits a beneficial software partnership will offer you.
I liked what Drew Gainor at Forbes had to say about software partnerships (any white label solution):
“Your customers have an end goal, and using a white label solution can give them a clear and simple path to reaching it. The extra months (or even years) that it takes to develop your own solution can force customers elsewhere for solutions. You can avoid this with a prepackaged solution that meets their needs immediately.”
From my experience, here are the benefits you can expect from a software partnership, if it’s a good fit:
- Branding – With a software partnership, you can just add a new feature to your existing brand. You can stay on message and deliver a new service, and put it in a context that makes your customers realize how the new feature will help them reach their goals. This is true for any software partnership, white label or not.
- Focus – Your business can’t succeed unless you’re totally focused on making your customers happy. If half or more of your resources are invested in creating a new piece of software, you may not be delivering the kind of service your current customers expect. A software partnership allows you to stay focused on your business.
- Cost – Making your own software is much more expensive than entering into a partnership. Developing good software takes a ton of time, labor, money, and other resources you’ve maybe not even considered. I definitely didn’t know the full extent of what I was getting into when I started RevenueJump!
- Support – With a good software partnership, you’ll have the full support of that software company. They’ll update the software and keep it current, and they’ll also be on-hand to answer any questions you or your customers may have.
- Data – If you’re an agency, data is huge for you. It might be just as huge if you’re involved with an association, eCommerce platform, or a software company. A software partnership should allow you to add even more relevant, useful data to your reports, case studies, and other efforts. If you provide data and metrics to your clients, this is especially valuable.
- Ease of Use – Any software worth its salt should make your life easier and make your customers’ lives better.
- Profitability – This one speaks for itself. More services = more revenue opportunity.
I’m obviously invested in software partnerships, and I fully believe they’re a powerful asset for multiple business types.
But, I have to be honest, too.
They’re not for everyone.
Software partnerships do have limitations, and they won’t work for everyone.
In this article from Smashfly, the author is talking about white label recruitment software partnerships, but I feel his message applies to any software partnership:
“A great technology platform cannot just be a bunch of white label solutions cobbled together by a few band-aids. A successful product will have a core of the product that is built in-house specifically to solve the needs & problems of your customer with ancillary white label solutions that provide value toward this goal.”
Even if you’re not offering a technology platform, he’s right– your service can’t just be a bunch of prepackaged software from third-party vendors…
Any software solution you choose to offer has to fit with your existing brand and business model. If it’s just a quick cash grab, you won’t succeed. You have to approach it in a thoughtful manner.
Here are some of the limitations I’ve seen from my own experiences with software partnerships:
- Cost to Customer – Sometimes your customers won’t see the benefits of the new software you’re charging them for. They may accept begrudgingly and see the value later on, but if the cost is too prohibitive, based on what they’re getting, they may choose to find another company to work with.
- Solution Looking For a Problem – If you’re excited to offer a new service to your customers, you need to be sure it’s a service they actually want. If it will help them achieve their goals, they’ll usually be the first to tell you. Sometimes, it’s just not something they need– don’t tear your hair out trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
- Bad Fit – Some software solutions won’t fit your brand or product/service vision, no matter how hard you try. If it seems like a stretch for your company to offer this new feature, regardless of how profitable it could be, it’s time to re-evaluate.
- Control – When you engage in a software partnership, you have little to no control over the software itself. If it’s not working, or not fitting your needs, there’s not much you can do about it. You need to vet software companies based on their responsiveness, service, and their willingness to answer questions and take action on your behalf.
I strongly believe software partnerships can add valuable new features to increase your customer satisfaction and retention. They can cut down costs and expand your services.
But you have to do your research. If a piece of software isn’t a good fit, and you force it on your customers, you’ll be worse off than you were before you entered into the partnership.
Just remember– researching a software partnership takes far less time than researching and developing a piece of software does. Do your homework, but also find a smart solution that allows you to focus on your own business.
When in doubt, just ask your customers what they need.
Thanks for reading!