A Healthy API Strategy Does Not Involve Scheduling A Briefing To Discuss--Just Do It
17 Apr 2015
I get a number of folks contacting me about their API ideas, and email or call me, looking to schedule a meeting or briefing to discuss the API ideas. This is something I always reply with a request for existing links to the portal, blog, Twitter, and Github accounts of those involved. Even when companies are doing something interesting, I prefer to approach it like any random Joe or Jane would, from the public portal, with very little information up-front. Your overall approach to API, the value it delivers, and ease of integration should speak for itself, in my opinion.
I am sure there are plenty of companies still who would prefer a briefing, meeting, call, or other personal touch, sales or pitch like engagement, but increasingly in an API driven world, a self-service, pull approach is preferred. A well done API shouldn't have to rely only on traditional marketing. I'm not saying that you shouldn't have these mechanims in place, but by pushing this approach on media, developers, and other potential consumers, you are doing yourself a disservice in many situations--going backwards, not forwards.
There is also another group of people who contact me, who really don't have a thing yet. They are just looking for validation, and potentially stimulate discussions that will get them more attention from would be investors. As with the previous group, I think the "just do it" approach works best. You are going to stimulate much more meaningful discussions amongst investors if you are actually doing something, and generating real buzz amongst developers. Additionally you never know, you may be able to bootstrap and make it happen, without attracting major investment.
I know many of you traditional busines folks are used to a push approach to getting your business out there, but when you are looking to make inroads in the API economy, your majority investment should be about creating a platform that people can visit, and pull the value you generate into their worlds, via a self-service model. Right behind the portal, you should have robust marketing, sales, and other outreach mechanisms, but your primary outreach approach should be just about doing what you preach, not scheduling calls to discuss and convince someone of what you do.
For me when someone insists on jumping on a call to discuss their API, is an immediate filter of bad ideas. If someone is just talking, and not showing, more often than not, there isn't anything really there. If you have to defend or hide your idea, it probably shouldn't be out there anyways.