Everything You Need To Know About Product-Led Growth
Product-led growth is one of the most disruptive marketing strategies a company can implement in its ecosystem. Traditional methods in sales, marketing, and customer service may have had trouble adapting to this innovative strategy for fear that it could mean eliminating customer-facing teams.
But that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, the scalability of product-led growth (PLG) is designed to align all teams for higher efficiency.
What is Product Led Growth?
Product-led growth is the result of a company overhaul of its blueprint that aligns all its teams and keeps them in tune with success and growth developments. It is meant to absorb the specialties of an entire company’s various teams so that better, more effective products are produced.
Whether they be marketing, sales, customer service, or design and engineering, these teams operate separately without PLG. When PLG metastasizes a company, it does so without creating a dictatorship or primary leader. Rather, each team begins to work as a united front.
This new entity requires product-led growth to step in and guide traditional decision-makers in the sales funnel to generate a more diverse opening with a wider range of influence. Defining product-led growth translates from business method to three core qualities: user acquisition, conversion, and retention, all of which transfer control to the users themselves.
The better the user experience, the higher the return rate, so PLG strategies are user-centric. We use the term “user” because PLG puts the product in a person’s hands, literally. They are able to try the product first-hand without being sold to. But more on that later.
Product Led Growth Strategy
As a go-to strategy, PLG refocuses energy by putting it at the forefront of the brand and making it as accessible to consumers as possible. Like every effective go-to strategy, the PLG should answer who is buying the product, where it can be found, why it’s being purchased, and how it’s being purchased.
This is about catching up with and surpassing your competitors, and the only way to do that is to provide reprieve to your various teams. Initially, the change in strategy may seem overwhelming. It’s to be expected. Instead of viewing the overhaul as a sacrifice, think of it for what it is—an investment in the future.
If you’re not already convinced of the power of PLG, consider your business and the innovative perspective a new overhaul could bring. Otherwise, it’s back to the same old scaling process of hiring.
The more time it takes to hire and train employees, the longer it takes for a company to address the needs of its customer base, which at the same time is ballooning with higher expectations while your profit margins sink.
The Four Points of a Go-To Strategy
- Who — In the product-led approach, you sell to users, not buyers.
- Where — Word-of-mouth is a massive tool in a product becoming viral, which in this case is superior to traditional marketing or promotion.
- Why — In a bizarre twist of fate, it turns out being trustworthy does more for a company’s reputation and user experience.
- How — Users should have tried the product, which led to them purchasing it. At this point, the product should sell itself, rather than with the help of a sales representative.
Number Four relates to the software as a service (Saas) seen most commonly in services with “freemium” or free trial options, such as Hulu. In the traditional sales funnel, this strategy begins with making all audiences aware of the product and follows them through their shopping journey.
The product-led strategy works from the bottom up, allowing users to experience the product prior to making a purchase. In short, they are able to see the value first before making a purchase. It addresses the needs of the user immediately and typically lasts for either 14 days to 30 days.
There are three main types of freemium services, but the goal is always the same. The first has reduced features, while the second has reduced capacity, and the last has reduced support.
At times, a service will have combinations of the three. Yet, the absence of these qualities induces a sense of desire adjacent to the user’s need.
What Needs to Change?
Becoming a product-led company requires letting go of traditional sales- and marketing-led strategies that would prove otherwise incompatible.
Have a Worthwhile Product
If the product isn’t delivering on value, the users will be able to sense it right away and will waste no time moving on with a competitor. The value has to be immediately present in order to see any engagement. We recommend identifying the problem a user is trying to solve and then solve it for them.
Remove the friction between their search and the solution. Keep the user goal-oriented as well by also demonstrating new goals. This will keep the product fresh and exciting.
Presenting a worthwhile product should produce personalized user experiences. The software necessary to track and analyze these experiences needs to match the company in size and sophistication.
You’re mapping a user’s journey in the funnel, but you’re also testing their interest in your presentation as well. Have goals in mind, rather than features.
In a PLG, if you’re not moving fast, then you aren’t moving forward. The needs and desires of the user must be a consistent and ever-present focus of the company. You need to be able to leverage the data culminated from this research.
Reiterating the importance of company-wide alignment helps maintain the forward-thinking momentum required of PLG to produce informed decision-making and metric analysis.
Not all metrics are made the same. Some are more or less important, depending on the context, and thus are leveraged differently. Metrics, however, are how you measure success in a business model.
- Acquisition — the number of users who sign up for a trial or freemium membership
- Activation — refers to the percentage of who found value in the acquisition
- Revenue — can be measured by the following: ACV, MRR, ARPV, depending on preferences
- Retention — Measurement of users who continue to pay for the service or product after the trial
- Referral — Refers to the percentage of users who recruit other users
While implementing a PLG isn’t going to be a quick fix for marketing your product, neither is it supposed to be. That’s because the transition in your blueprint requires the steps necessary to achieve alignment first, which is likely going to take time and energy. The end result, however, is money and quicker scalability.
Product-led growth has been proven to increase revenue per employee and subsequently higher financial productivity. This is because the product itself has become the driving force behind acquisition, engagement, and, finally, retention. In theory, the method was meant to spark expansion, which was proven true.
Introducing PLG to your company is not for the faint of heart, but the ones that do are able to view monetary positions from a different angle and allocate those funds to more appropriate places, including savings.
Using this bottom-up approach begins with the product and generates interest and word-of-mouth promotion. Freemium, as they say, dilates the sales funnel wider because the product itself essentially does the sales and marketing for you.
The result saves time and money in marketing and customer service because the users are able to interact with each other on a more personal and honest level. Like the human heart, it works on its own to pump lifeblood through the rest of the system.
With product-led growth, gone are the days of afterthought and apathy. Better days are ahead, with ample empathy and resources at the forefront of this endeavor.
Four Ways to Know if Your Product is Right for PLG
- Your market is ready for product-led growth when the marginal costs of serving each user are low, and that user is able to play the role of being a buyer of the product
- The user can realize there is sustainable value in the product quickly. They should be able to decide this by themselves and without any outside help. This happens when the user is able to determine the product is the best available out of the competition.
- Your product has the inherent ability to market, sell, and onboard new users on its own. For example, a free trial is offered that shows the value and is followed by a direct sale such as Hulu. Paywalls, or options depending on the quality of a respective package offered, are scaled based on value, such as offering no ads for a higher price. This is also called incentive. This leads to the scalability of users through other channels like email lists.
- The product is able to engage users without the influence of a sales team. This happens as users research a solution to their problem or needs. As more people join, a network is formed, and information is shared via online forums or word-of-mouth and virality.
How Harper+Scott Can Help
Product-led growth is a catch-all phrase for an organic process. Your product is unique to your values, brand goals, and company mission. That’s why your product requires unique creative and design solutions to solve problems and lead it to success.
Harper+Scott helps brands establish their voice in an increasingly saturated marketplace, and give them unique identities that accentuate their strengths and values. Our services include product research, trend forecasting, and product development. Our private label capabilities help cover the entire lifecycle of your product’s merchandising and branding goals.
The future is bright, and Harper+Scott is ready to help you get there.