The Product Led Growth movement has everybody all up in a tizzy about transitioning to PLG like it’s some kind of magical business strategy that not only guarantees success but lures you in with dreams of adding your business to the list of SaaS legends like Atlassian, Shopify, DropBox, Slack, Docusign, Zoom, etc.
Here’s the thing … PLG is not the only reason those companies have become so successful, and when you look at more complete lists of so-called product led companies like this one from OpenView Venture Partners many of the businesses listed are not really running a PLG business strategy. Hubspot, Zoom, Zendesk, New Relic … these companies, along with many other successful SaaS businesses, are more like PLG Hybrids.
They embrace some of the fundamental principles of PLG, but when it comes to driving revenue they also embrace more “traditional” growth strategies (e.g. outbound sales, and feature gating). Sign up for a free Hubspot account and see if you can actually get to value before you have to sign your life away.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hater. I firmly believe in the principles of PLG and spend a lot of my time writing about and helping early-stage businesses implement SaaS Growth Strategies and Techniques. The thing that bothers me is when people hold up Slack, Atlassian, or Dropbox as examples of PLG businesses they are trying to emulate … because if PLG worked for them it’ll work for me, right? Wrong.
PLG is not a magical solution. It doesn’t guarantee success, and it quite possibly is not the right strategy for your business. Not by itself anyway. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to building a successful SaaS business. You’ll likely need to implement several different sTweet
PLG is not the only way to build a successful SaaS business.
The stars aligned for the businesses mentioned above. They had incredible timing, game-changing products and/or technology, executed successful business strategies … and so many other things that you have no visibility into. So …
Instead of chasing a unicorn or worrying about whether or not your business is “product led”, focus on understanding your customers, solving their problems, and delivering amazing user experiences.
People buy products to solve problems. If you’ve gone through all the trouble associated with starting a business and building a SaaS product, then it’s only a matter of time before you realize that your customers are in control of your fate. Solve their problems, deliver them value, make them more efficient, help them succeed — help them grow their business — and you will naturally become product led.
To me, being product led simply means you are focused on building a product that your customers fall in love with and don’t want to live without.
Understand your Customer and Grow Your SaaS.Tweet