Misalignment is a PLG killer.
Product-led growth only works if every team in the business is aligned on this strategy. As we all know, getting different teams on the same page is easier said than done.
At Unito — a no-code integration solution that allows you to connect apps and automate your workflows in minutes — we made the decision to embrace PLG as we ramped up our growth. In Geoffrey A. Moore’s book “Crossing the Chasm,” which focuses on scaling tech companies, he identifies a key period for businesses during which they shift from “tech visionaries” — the users who’ve supported you from day one — to early adopters. For Unito, this widening of the audience required us to move away from an engineering-dominated user base to a “tech-savvy but not technical” persona.
Product-led growth was the only way we could effectively make this transition. To connect with that new audience, we had to change our UI, features, and integrations as well as our value proposition and marketing positioning. For example, we changed our product terminology and visual components to more closely reflect well-known automation players, like Zapier or IFFT. This sped up onboarding for users who were generally familiar with those solutions already.
This entire process required close alignment between marketing and product. To cross the chasm and get these teams rowing in the same direction, we made the decision to unite the Marketing and Product teams under the same umbrella.
In retrospect, this was the best possible decision for us and leading this transition taught me so much about PLG.
Marketing and Product both need a deep understanding of the market
To successfully build and promote a product, you need to know your market inside and out. We quickly discovered that pooling activities and insights across marketing and product helped to both create alignment and save us a ton of time on execution. For example:
- Our product and marketing teams use the same recruitment protocol for user research, to both take part in user interviews, and to combine and consolidate insights. This is especially true when we want to observe website → sign up → activation journeys for new users. The onboarding experience is directly related to the user activity on the website just a few minutes ago.
- Our product and marketing teams collaborate on competitive benchmarking. We built a comprehensive Airtable base with dozens of competitors (direct and indirect) and 90 fields where members of both teams track product features, ideal customer profile, messaging, pricing, ease of use, onboarding time, threat levels and more.
Product influences marketing but the reverse is also true
Obviously marketing relies heavily on the product to drive its messaging and tactics — this is at the heart of PLG. But the reverse is also true. Acquisition channels and marketing tactics clearly influence how users interact with the product and the entire user journey. There are no longer clear handoffs between the Marketing and Product. The phases of the user journey overlap.
- Product can learn about cohorts of new users by looking at the touch points and moments of engagement happening before sign up.
- Community, social, website content and first few interactions with the product are the ways to decipher whether their needs and expectations match what we have to offer (traditionally called the ”consideration” phase in the user journey).
- Onboarding starts on our website, marketplaces and continues in product.
- Purchase happens after they have considered and on-boarded the product.
With that in mind, we made user activation a shared KPI for both marketing and product. This led to greater consideration of the entire user journey, collaboration on how our tactics and product evolved, and a much clearer commitment from marketing to PLG.
Opening up communication is key
One final piece that paid dividends for us on the PLG front: cross-team communication.
In addition to the collaborative work mentioned above, we decided to have managers from marketing and product attend each other’s biweekly team meetings to ensure visibility and information sharing. We immediately felt the impact of this decision. Features that would otherwise have gone unnoticed were picked up by marketing as high-value to the user and promoted in email campaigns. Product managers got earlier warnings about planned marketing campaigns and shifted resources in response. And these are just a few examples.
We also opened up our Slack channels to members of opposing teams, built interdisciplinary squads to tackle specific initiatives, and even started doing combined team events. All of this opened up channels of communication that helped us nail our transition to PLG.
In a period of transition, the risks of misalignment tend to be even higher than normal. Teams adapt and change at different rates and in different ways. As Unito shifted user personas and embraced PLG, the extra effort we put into uniting product and marketing paid off tenfold as we moved into a new chapter with everyone on the same page.
If you’re considering a similar shift, make sure to:
- Involve both teams in the planning process — it leads to buy in from the get-go
- Focus on work that benefits from collaboration and avoid cross-functional projects that keep teams siloed but create a series of dependencies across teams
- When you achieve shared success, organize shared celebrations
Ultimately, the team you build and support has more to do with the success of this transition than any framework. Do everything you can to enable the people, and the rest will follow.