In theory, and I emphasize in theory, the impact of a product led growth model should be very minimal on product management. For product marketing, it pretty much changes everything.

What is Product Led Growth?

Product led growth is a business model for taking a product-as-a-service (PaaS) or software-as-a-service (SaaS) to market and gaining market share. Product usability/usage serves as the primary driver for customer acquisition, expansion and retention.

In B2B, it changes everything about how you build, market, sell and acquire customers.

Here’s the bottom line. In a  product led growth model, the product has to sell itself. Customers get free trials or free subscriptions with limited functionality. For example, you can get a free subscription to Zoom Meeting but there are limits on the length of the meetings, the number of attendees and other capabilities that only come with a paid subscription.

It’s a bottom-up approach to mass market adoption that centers on product usability and quantifiable business value. With very few exceptions, there are no RFPs, no sales demos, no contract negotiations, no training, no implementations, etc.

The Impact of Product Led Growth on Product Management

In theory, a product led growth model should change very little for product management. Why wouldn’t you build something users love, requires no training or implementation services and delivers quantifiable value to the users, the C-suite and everyone in between?

The reality of where it gets different falls into three primary areas.

  1. Definition of the Product – In a  product led growth model, the definition of “the product” goes far beyond the core functionality. It’s the core functionality plus the entire customer journey, with the ability to go from one to the other seamlessly. “I want to change my subscription in the middle of a task to access premium features and pick up where I left off and use those features.”
  2. Usability – In addition to core features that are intuitive and simple, your products have to take on a more human-like personality. For example, when a user invokes a feature for the first time, the product comes to life and guides the user on the simplest way to complete the task or shows them how to use that same feature for more complex tasks.
  3. Architecture – Your product has to be architected to support a “land & expand” adoption model. For example, if your product suite consists of 5 key integrated modules, it has to be architected in a way that allows customers to start with one of those modules and grow into the others as needed, with few if any restrictions on the adoption sequence.

In a product led growth model, the definition of product grows substantially and so does the role of product management?

The Impact of Product Led Growth on Product Marketing

For product marketing, a product led growth model changes just about everything.

Remember when employees had to go to the HR department to change their address, marital status, payroll tax deductions, etc.? Then self-service HR apps came along and removed the burden for both the employee and HR.

That same analogy is now in play for product marketing as they’re tasked with creating a self-service marketing, sales and adoption model.

Other than developing core value messages, virtually nothing is the same.

You no longer have to train a sales team to tell your value story. You have to present value propositions to users at key points throughout the entire customer journey.

Forget about the sales playbook, battlecards, presentations, demos and collaterals. Product marketing has to create a playbook that guides customers through the journey of evaluation, purchase, expansion and ongoing use.

It’s the convergence of sales, product marketing and customer onboarding into one function that does all three. The difference is that it allows buyers to decide how they want to be marketed and sold to throughout the entire lifecycle and the pace at which they want to adopt.

Product Led Growth In Context

The consumerization of enterprise B2B products and services is in full swing. Product led growth is the consumerization of the B2B go-to-market model and it’s incredibly attractive for countless reasons, namely because it all but eliminates the buying and adoption cycle.

But here’s the thing. The marketing, sales and customer onboarding are now as much a part of the product as the core functionality. For that reason, they require a far more surgical approach than the traditional model because they have to be defined and designed up front as part of the product. They’re no longer a separate thing.

In a product led growth model, success really does come down to the value of the product, the outcomes it delivers and the customer journey that surrounds it.

Product management and product marketing will be under the microscope more than they’ve ever been. They’ll also be in a stronger position to lead than they’ve ever been.

If you want to learn an outcome-based framework for building, marketing, selling and launching products that delivers quantifiable customer outcomes, contact Proficientz to learn how our training will take you further and get you there faster than any of our competition.

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