Product School

How to Drive a Product-Led Growth Strategy

Ankit Srivastava headshot

Author: Ankit Srivastava

August 15, 2023 - 6 min read

Updated: January 24, 2024 - 6 min read

Once limited primarily to the realm of startups, the concept of a product-led growth strategy has progressively permeated the landscape of large-scale enterprises. In light of this evolution, let’s investigate exactly what product-led growth strategy is, the markets where these strategies have the greatest impact, and learn some top tips for implementing product-led frameworks. 

What is Product-led growth? 

Product-Led growth graphic

Historically, companies predominantly relied on either Sales-led growth or Marketing-led growth strategies. Sales-led growth focuses on exhaustive prospecting and converting leads into eventual purchases. Meanwhile, Marketing-led growth employs marketing engines (content, social media, ads, etc.) to guide buyers towards making a purchase.

However, a paradigm shift has occurred with the rise of product-led growth strategy. Instead of pouring massive funds and resources into advertising, product-led growth companies strategically invest in product development. The ultimate aim is to craft an unparalleled user experience that compels users to share the product organically, leading to increased word-of-mouth referrals and organic growth.

Under the product-led growth approach, every team revolves around the product. The product team becomes involved in all aspects of the company's operations. 

  • Marketers harness the product's appeal as a lead magnet

  • Sales leverages the product to qualify leads, engaging with those who already comprehend its value. 

  • Customer success endeavors to create a product that enables customers to achieve success without excessive involvement from the company.

The idea behind such a strategy is to scale faster while maintaining a lower Customer Acquisition Cost.

Where does it work & where does it not?

Blog image 1: How to Drive a Product-Led Growth Strategy

To determine the most effective growth approach for your business, a profound understanding of your market is required. 

In a blue ocean market, where you are the pioneering player and demand creation is essential, a sales-led approach yields fruitful results as compared to a product-led strategy. This market has few competitors, necessitating significant customer education about your offering, which requires time and effort.

On the other hand, red ocean markets are more mature with a multitude of competitors. Customers here are already well-aware of the problem and potential solutions. In such cases, a product-led growth strategy proves more advantageous. Less cultivation of prospects is needed, as customers are self-aware and seek straightforward solutions that meet their needs.

Top steps to implement a Product-led Growth strategy

Blog image 2: How to Drive a Product-Led Growth Strategy

To drive a successful product-led growth strategy, consider implementing the following steps:

1. Foster cross-functional collaboration:

As the product takes on a more prominent role in selling and marketing itself, it becomes crucial for product leaders to collaborate closely with sales, marketing, engineering, and customer success teams. While product managers traditionally focus on customer needs, this shift requires building strong relationships with other departments. Your new strategy and priorities should encompass elements of sales, marketing, support, and education within the product itself. 

For instance, carefully consider and prioritize integrating AI chatbots to enhance customer support at the same scale as all other feature requirements.

2. Concentrate on user behavior and experience; in real time

In the product-led growth (PLG) approach, user behavior and experience take center stage. 

Understanding your users' needs is vital for building a product that not only meets but surpasses their expectations. Product analytics play a crucial role in this process by providing real-time insights into user interactions.

Your analytics platforms must answer questions like: 

  • How much does each user spend on specific features? 

  • Where do most users drop off? 

  • What are the different cohorts of users? 

Product analytics are indispensable for successful PLG implementation, as they pave the way for data-driven decisions and continuous product improvement.

Understanding of a product's value goes beyond its mere functional features, encompassing the entire end-to-end experience. This includes aspects such as commerce interactions and knowledge management.

This comprehensive perspective allows us to appreciate how users engage with the product not only for its capabilities, but also for the seamless integration of purchasing processes and the efficient management of information – making it an important thing to measure.

3. Connecting value to pricing plan

Connecting value to price is essential for creating a successful product-led growth strategy. Beyond solving customers' issues and impressing them, it's crucial to align the product's value with a well-designed pricing strategy. 

To do this - start by identifying the appropriate value metric, which can be based on usage (e.g., number of users, number of downloads) or outcomes (e.g., end sales). Selecting the right metrics tailored to your business is crucial.

Next, ensure a clear and immediate connection between the chosen value metric and your pricing plan. Customers should be able to grasp this correlation within seconds. Failing to establish this connection can negatively impact organic growth prospects. 

For instance, observability products charging based on storage and usage may not reflect the true value they offer, such as incident discovery and management, leading to potential growth challenges.

By aligning value and price effectively, you can enhance customer satisfaction and drive organic growth, ultimately positioning your product for long-term success.

4. Push for the right onboarding mechanism 

Collaboration between marketing, sales, and product teams is crucial for introducing powerful growth tools as a product manager. Freemium and free trials stand out as excellent options to attract a particular segment of customers away from major competitors.

Both strategies can effectively drive organic product-led growth:

  • Freemium, then free trial: Offer a free version of the product to entice users, while reserving some premium features for a free trial. This approach allows users to experience the product's value before committing to a purchase.

  • Free trial, then freemium: Provide a free trial to users, and if they do not convert to paid plans, offer them a free version of the product. This strategy encourages users to explore the product's capabilities during the trial period, fostering customer engagement and potential conversion.

In conclusion, regardless of your role – CEO, sales manager, product lead, or marketing manager – understanding product-led growth strategy is crucial. With Fortune 500 companies adopting this approach, a skilled product manager must be well-versed in these steps and frameworks. The top four steps outlined above serve as valuable tools for driving an effective product-led growth framework within your company. It's important to recognize that product-led growth is not a fleeting, short-term initiative; rather, it's a long-term game where returns compound year after year. Embracing the steps above with a strategic mindset will pave the way for sustained success and continuous growth in the dynamic business landscape.

Updated: January 24, 2024

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