If we build it, they will come… This is the PLG (product-led growth) story.

Here’s a little secret: the PLG model is more human-led growth (HLG) than product-led growth.

PLG works when product, success, and marketing teams work together, effectively with an agile approach, shared goals, and agreed upon metrics.

Is that product leading the way? Maybe, but it’s really about putting the customer at the center of the equation. (Something Steve Jobs was doing 40 years ago.)

PLG starts with a product designed to delight the end user. But it’s not just that. It also solves a real problem felt and understood by thousands or millions. This requires:

— Product data that allows teams to track, measure, and analyze user behavior

— Running go-to-market experiments to incrementally improve the user journey

— Keeping the initial product experience simple

— Enabling customer success at scale

We’ll sometimes hear: “we don’t need a sales team, our product marketing and CS teams will commercialize our enterprise opportunities.” Have any of you tried this? How’d it work out?

Let’s look at a PLG example: Atlassian.

Atlassian has nearly 6000 sales and marketing professionals in their organization. Yes, they have long since exited the “high growth” category and have been in business for 20 years.

However, it is clear that relying only on end-user evangelization and product marketing reached a point of diminishing returns in their journey.

The best GTM teams, PLG-focused or not, all definitely have an HLG focus and do these things well:

✔️ GTM leaders and teams view the customer journey, from websites and free trials through enterprise adoption at scale, as a shared responsibility that is focused first and foremost on the buyer and their why.

✔️ Marketing and sales are aligned on their ICP, the ideal buyer personas within their ICP, and what value the product delivers to those buyers. They are deliberate and intentional about which accounts they engage, and they start with a focus on the buyer why.

✔️ Customer success, of course, focuses on delivering value to the end user. But CS also identifies new use cases for the product team, feeds market insights and success stories to marketing, and works with sales to commercialize expansion opportunities.

✔️ Marketing teams focus on brand and creating high-value content that speaks to their buyer whys. They are also diligent about the ‘test everything’ mentality to pattern recognize quicker. Markets evolve and change, the product evolves and changes.

These best practices were not revealed with the advent of PLG, and are true in any B2B, and many B2C, models.

We can call it whatever we want, but successful GTM teams focus on their buyers and customers first and last.