Are you doing faux-PLG? 10 signs you are...
PLG has had a lot of hype in the past few years, and deservedly so.
Unfortunately, when it comes to sustainable product-led growth, ‘fake it until you make it’ really won’t work.
You may have a free trial. You may even have a free plan.
You’re probably hearing a bunch of reassuring messages from leadership.
Company all-hands or town halls talk about how important PLG is to the company.
But you might also be seeing and feeling things to the contrary.
Something doesn’t sit right.
You need more than just surface-level commitment.
Are you doing faux-PLG? 😱
Here are ten signs to look out for…
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1. You’re having to continually make the case for PLG
Senior leadership talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.
They continually question short-term ROI.
You may see diversion of resources to support enterprise monetisation initiatives.
It feels like an uphill battle.
Root cause: lack of exec-level alignment and commitment.
Remember that PLG isn’t a quick fix and requires long-term commitment with top-down support and resourcing for the long haul.
If a company was formed with sales-led DNA, without continuous support and evangelism from the exec and senior leadership team, the org will inevitably revert to what it knows best.
I listed this as number one because without this, it’s very likely you’ll also see many of the other things in this list, and it will be incredibly difficult to right the ship.
2. Too many decisions are made without being informed by product data
Your website and product event instrumentation is lacking. You have no/poor supporting data tooling and infrastructure, and your teams aren’t adequately enabled through education and cultural reinforcement.
Root cause: Insufficient investment in behavioural analytics and associated culture of data-informed decision-making.
3. Work on critical growth initiatives is subservient to the needs of the next big customer
You’re making frequent roadmap adjustments based on top-down or GTM team influence in chasing short-term revenue.
Root cause: Lack of dedicated, ringfenced teams owning key aspects of growth and/or the user experience, such as onboarding.
4. You’re not monitoring the performance of product changes
You release features and move on to the next.
Root cause: buyer-centric culture means focus on user success is, at best, a secondary concern.
In your SDLC, replace ‘release’ with ‘release and monitor success’.
5. You don’t retire features
Instead, features sit around indefinitely, creating bloated product, significant technical and UX debt, and often impeding growth.
Root cause: building product in the absence of a growth model and framework for evaluating features in the context of contribution to growth.
Features should be retired if they’re not adequately contributing to the product growth model across one or more of acquisition, activation, and monetisation.
6. You don’t have an engagement-based north star metric
I don’t think there is a good reason for a company committed to building a PLG motion not to align around a north star metric representative of users’ (teams in B2B) realisation of the core value of your product.
Root cause: too much attachment to revenue as a north star and lack of understanding that your users and customers path to value is your path to revenue.
7. You get blank stares when you ask what retention looks like
We’re talking usage-based retention here. People in teams that should know how to answer the question simply don’t. Even worse, they don’t know how your company measures retention (beyond $ based retention).
Root cause: buyer-centric culture and lack of fundamental understanding of growth
Usage-based retention is critical to sustainable product-led growth.
It should be something highly visible, oft-discussed, and central to how product and other cross-functional teams plan and execute.
8. You’re not experimenting
Changes in product and other areas are released in hope.
The scientific method is a foreign concept.
Even if you don’t have some of the prerequisites for formal experimentation (e.g. sufficiently large sample sizes), you don’t take a test-and-learn approach.
As a result, you have only a superficial understanding of how your product grows.
Root cause: You’re prioritising output over learnings.
9. You’re not speaking with users enough
You have a poor and unnuanced understanding of your users, their needs, and their preferences.
Root cause: Interaction between you and your customers is primarily at the buyer level.
Invest in organisational systems and processes to engage with users directly, frequently and regularly.
10. Product teams are the only consumers of product data
Revenue teams don’t have the knowledge to be able to construct narratives based on usage and realised value and can’t time customer interactions at the point of need.
Success and support teams lack the context to more effectively and efficiently help customers.
Product team interaction with other functions is transactional.
Root cause: siloed ways of working
So there you have it. 10 signs you’re doing faux-PLG…
You’re having to continually make the case for PLG
Too many decisions are made without being informed by product data
Work on critical growth initiatives is subservient to the needs of the next big customer
You’re not monitoring the performance of product changes
You don’t retire features
You don’t have an engagement-based north star metric
You get blank stares when you ask what retention looks like
You’re not experimenting
You’re not speaking with users enough
Product teams are the only consumers of product data
What have I missed?
Let me know in the comments, or drop me an email.
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