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Product Led Growth (PLG) - Not Just Another Pretty Buzzword.

word cloud about Product Led Growth

In the past, businesses relied on traditional marketing and sales channels to acquire customers. However, as the cost of acquiring customers continues to increase (darn!) businesses are increasingly turning to product-led growth (PLG) as a more cost-effective way to grow their business.

What's Product Led Growth?

PLG is a business methodology in which the product itself is the primary driver of growth. The enterprise focuses on developing products that not only go beyond meeting customer needs, but also do the heavy lifting in acquiring, activating, and retaining customers.


  • Lower customer acquisition costs: PLG businesses acquire customers for a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing and sales channels.

  • Higher CLV: PLG businesses tend to have higher customer lifetime values because customers are more likely to stick with products they love.

  • Stronger customer relationships: PLG businesses build stronger relationships with their customers because they are able to interact with them directly through the product.

Implementation strategies.

So how do you make PLG work, or rather, what levers should you pull to make PLG pay off?

Network Effect: Your users do most of the work getting others to use the product because it improves the product. This can be intracompany or intercompany, think Slack and LinkedIn.

Value Virality: Where users are providing value to other users thru your product. For example, a document signing product shows value virality.

logo about virality
Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Exposure Virality: Your users show off your product because it makes them look good in some way. It’s typically tied to social proof or status.

Invites & Referrals: A common one where your users get rewarded for sharing your product.

Rapid feature release. I'm going to talk about my Tesla - because we've been dating since 2019 (Shhh, don't tell Robyn). One of the coolest features that keeps me coming back for more is the over-the-air software updates. I took the car out last week after a software update and I now have the flying car beta - well not really but new UI dongles and features. Makes me very happy.

Word of Mouth: Where your brand is so amazing everyone is talking about it. For example, Spotify had people talking about music streaming technology and what that means for the industry. before you buy: Offering a free trial enables can typically help increase conversion rates by having customers self-select into qualification buckets.

Self-service onboarding: Customers get started with minimal to no corporate engagement which reduces support costs and will improve the Cx. I'm big on the second benefit because Cx can cement loyalty which puts all other benefits on steroids - greater retention rates, increased premium price acceptance, and increased conversion rates. And if you don't know what a Horn & Hardart Food Automat is, you definitely missed something. So much fun!

inside of restaurant and a how to menu

Encourage team use: Airtable understands that if they can get buy-in from more than one company member, the company is more prone to stick with the product.

No gates. Gated community, product, and content is a no-no. Yes you have to acquire user/client data but can you wait till they are hooked? Sure you can.

Transparent pricing. This one is tricky. I'm all in on transparent pricing but you have to be aware of your history. Some organizations initially take a "get what we can" pricing strategy - that is, there is no strategy. Unless this is rectified ahead of time, you won't have a CLM - Customer Led Mutiny.

Incentives. Certain products lend themselves to providing incentives to users for inviting others into the sandbox. Make sure you're factoring these costs into you GTM pricing.

Complementary products. As I mentioned, I LOVE my Tesla. I really do. I had it Detailed on Tuesday. As of this writing, it's Thursday and the sides of the car are filthy. The big brain that I am, and after 100,000 miles on the road, I finally figured out that the mud flaps Tesla offers will do the trick. Side note - If Tesla's geo-segmentation were better, they would know I live in an area with a lot of dirt roads, pick-up trucks, and farms and would have hiked up that offer to me. Duh.

Feedback. One of my favs. Bring those customers into the product dev cycle and make them co-owners in product design and deployment. Build both accurate product need knowledge and customer loyalty.

Companies who are doing it right

I am not going to sit here and write out what companies are doing what (because I'm lazy) but here are a few companies that are doing it right - well I may give you a hint or two on how they're using PLG to well, grow.

  • Slack - outstanding Cx, rapid feature release, and an always-on feedback loop

  • Airtable: Great UI, rapid feature release, and rabid community.

  • Atlassian: Products have serious virality.

  • Typeform: Who knew sexy forms could drive loyalty for their customers?

  • Zapier: the Swiss Army Knife or workflow automation. Can you say "feedback loops"? 3 million users can.

Final thoughts...

Those are just a few of the companies doing it right. There are a lot more. And there's many companies that can't spell PLG - FYI, its spelled P-L-G.

Product-led growth is a powerful way to acquire and retain customers. If you are looking for a more cost-effective way to grow your business, then you should consider implementing PLG.


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