Product led growth (PLG) is a go-to-market strategy that relies on the product itself to drive acquisition, retention and expansion. However, PLG is not one-size-fits-all. You can use it to target specific market segments or incorporate some PLG tactics into your business without completely replacing existing strategies like content marketing.
1. It’s not about how you sell, it’s about how they buy
The way software is bought and sold has changed due to the emergence of inside sales and content marketing. PLG is the next step of that evolution.
Product led growth puts the product at the forefront of the customer journey — instead of thinking about how you sell software, focus on how customers buy software. Product-first companies prioritize creating a product that customers will love, and in doing so, prioritize long-term over short-term wins. Product-first strategies don’t try to market an idea of a product, they let the product market itself directly to the customers.
The shift towards product as the leading salesperson can’t be accomplished by marketing alone. Customer success teams, product teams, sales teams and marketing teams need to work together to create the best experience possible to buyers.
2. Your customers are educating themselves (and that’s a good thing!)
Fundamentally, users are more educated about products and services because information is more readily available through the internet — the premise of the inbound methodology is a contributing factor to the success of PLG.
People can find information for themselves, and they want to try out products for themselves too. Requiring a call with a sales rep before that can happen adds friction to the buying process and can alienate customers who are used to purchasing consumer products by themselves and look for some of that ease to overlap into the B2B world.
This has led to products being thought of as a primary marketing channel that can be utilized to propel growth.
Another aspect of this shift is businesses adding a user focus to their priorities in addition to a customer focus. A user focus is already prevalent in B2C companies and has become essential in B2B. People who have access to easy-to-use beautiful technology at home don’t want to use software with poor UX at work. Effective marketing doesn’t just bring in leads, it also needs to continuously delight prospects and customers alike to keep them from taking their business elsewhere.
The customers’ ability to try out a product and see if it lives up to the marketing hype creates a sense of trust and transparency, but also requires alignment between the marketing and product teams.
3. Brand and customer acquisition are allies, not adversaries
Customer Acquisition focuses on the cause and effect between the selling effort and the decision to sign up for a product. Brand is a much broader term that encompasses efforts to educate prospects, build a company’s credibility and demonstrate why people should care about their product.
While the areas are different, they are complementary. The marketing field as a whole tends to change between ideologies where branding is essential and where brand is less important than measurable data like ROI. However, instead of relying on one over the other, you should take your product and customers into account and find a mix of both that appeals to them.
Brands can help shape perceptions and inclinations of loyalty to specific products and companies prior to them becoming users. That work lays the foundation for later customer acquisition efforts and helps position a company and product as something that offers value. Data is an important part of a marketing strategy, but for well-rounded success, marketers should be data-informed, not data-driven. Use data and results to inform your strategy, but don’t completely neglect the less tangible factors like brand and emotional connection. Brand marketing enables your company to have a conversation with another person about what you do by helping provide context about how that conversation will go. Brand marketing works to drive awareness of your company so, as your company starts to grow, branding helps create a market you can market to.
Your brand can be the deciding factor behind why a client chooses you over your competitors, so investing in your brand can also be an investment in customer acquisition.
4. Education enables delight
A goal of PLG is to offer a seamless opportunity for prospects to engage with your product as quickly as possible. But if users don’t understand how to extract value from your product, they’re going to switch to a product they do understand.
Products can be complex, and inbound marketing emphasizes education. Effective product led marketing ensures users understand the breadth of the solution being offered and how to utilize it.
PLG is a natural extension of the marketing flywheel: your marketing, sales and service efforts revolve around delighting your customers. Giving prospects access to your product and letting their experience convert them to customers is an implementation of the inbound methodology and evangelizes your end users.
To learn more about how your business can integrate product led growth into its marketing strategies, watch the full webinar featuring Ashley Murphy, Senior Director of Growth at OpenView, Estelle Mense, VP of Marketing at BlueSnap and Kelly Watkins, SaaS Marketing Leader & Advisor, Previous VP of Global Marketing at Slack.