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How to Become a Successful Product Led Growth (PLG) Company

Product led growth (PLG) tech companies are all the rage these days. Venture capitalists love the business model and product builders love the focus on user adoption to drive growth. Follow any technology thought leader on Twitter and you’ll inevitably see exchanges about what PLG is, why it matters, and how it works.

Sounds straightforward, right? Well, not so fast. There isn’t always a general agreement about the definition of product led growth for a technology startup. This has led to some confusion about what PLG teams actually do and how to build them properly. The root of this challenge stems from, in my opinion, a tendency to talk about tactics versus exploring strategies, which are often more esoteric and don’t always fit nicely into a short Tweet format.

Having worked in marketing for PLG tech companies and numerous top down sales/marketing organizations in my career, I was curious about what the new wave of founders and product builders thought about PLG. As expected, there was much debate online about what it is, so I decided to contact the most knowledgeable product expert I know, Chris Mann. His really interesting tech career started in product management in the analytics space competing against bohemeths like Google, and more recently, he was CEO of a marketing attribution startup that was acquired called BrightFunnel. Chris is now VP of Product Strategy at Ledger Bennett and I thought his unique experience as a product builder and leader at LinkedIn, 1Password, Bizo, BrightFunnel, and a stint in crypto, would have some interesting insights to tap into.

Listen to my PLG podcast with Chris Mann over at Valley Innovators (my other startup) and I hope it helps clarify the topic or inspires you to build a successful PLG team. On the pod we discuss:

  • Definition of PLG and clarification of common misperceptions (e.g. it’s just a free trial)

  • How founders can be successful with the approach

  • Who should be hired for the team

  • Why it may lead to venture capital interest

Side note: I was a product marketing manager on a team where Chris Mann was the lead product manager and we discuss the role marketing plays in PLG versus product. This is critical for founders considering a PLG strategy and which employees to hire for a successful team. If you’re new to product marketing, searching for more information, or considering outsourcing the function, make sure to check out my Beginner’s Guide to Product Marketing.

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