A Product Manager’s Guide to Growth

Drive growth metrics, not just core product value, as a PM with a product-led-growth mindset.

TLDR: Measurably improve user experience, NPS and life-time-value. Benefit from word-of-mouth referrals, decrease in cost-per-acquisition and increase in marginal profit per user.


Mindset: Leverage the product as a go-to-market strategy. Product managers can focus on driving core product value or growth, or both.

10 point how-to checklist on Product-Led-Growth (PLG):

Frequently anticipated questions

So what? Why do I need to know this?

The faster growing unicorns leverage product led growth. Think Slack, Typeform, Dropbox, Atlassian.

How is this different from marketing?

Marketing utilises messaging and often paid ads to increase leads. PLG leverages the product itself to grow metrics across the growth funnel.

Marketing generally has an increasing marginal cost/$ of profit. PLG generally has a decreasing marginal cost/$ of profit. I.e. Each additional user costs less to acquire. In addition, PLG has a broader remit than acquisition — the outcomes are to improve the customer experience, retention and life-time value.

When can we apply PLG?

Product-led growth is more effective after your product has reach product/market fit. There’s limited benefit to growing a product no-one wants .

However, many companies are designed from scratch to leverage PLG tactics. Think Typeform embedding virality from the beginning. Atlassian products were designed to grow without a traditional sales function.

Choose a strategy for your product based on product maturity and customer context. Think of a sliding continuum from high touch sales led growth→ no touch product-led growth and think — ‘what interaction & experience would the customer prefer?’

What products can we apply this to?

See the companies currently applying PLG:

Credit: Openview Partners

Does PLG apply only to bottoms up B2C products or to top down B2B products (e.g. usage and decision making starts from the bottom of the organisation or from the top) as well?

Both. For example, Slack is a B2C product that grows from bottom-up whereas Deputy is a B2B product that grows top-down.

How can I sell/communicate this idea to my exec team?

Product-focused and ex-startup founders generally understand the exponential benefit of a product-led go-to-market strategy.

How does PLG compliment/conflict with other go-to-market tactics? E.g. Sales?

The goal here is to improve the distribution channel/persona fit. How would your users prefer to buy? Cater for your main personas. E.g. Harry the Head of IT would rather speak to a technical sales person whereas Marge from Marketing may prefer to research, test for free and upgrade all online.

Where can I do further research?

Check out Openview partners, Reforge Brian Balfour and Andrew Chen.

Feel free to leave a comment! All truths accepted.

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