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Martin Gontovnikas

PLG Checklist

Is PLG a viable growth option for you? This checklist will tell you.
PLG Checklist

Recently, everyone wishes to follow a Product Led Growth motion. We get it. It makes sense for many products and companies. But when our clients ask for help to achieve PLG, we like to go back to first principles. If you want to figure out if PLG is a good approach for you, ask yourself these questions:

1) Does the user have a say in the decision?

PLG is a bottoms-up approach. You start with the end users actually using your product and convert them into clients later. If the user doesn’t have a say in the decision, they can’t influence the decision maker to use the product and therefore the product is never paid after all..


There are a lot of developer tools as PLG products because the reality is that website development is always delayed, always late, and that increases time-to-market. So if the Dev team says: “Hey, if we buy this tool we can ship stuff 3x faster”, the Director of Engineering will think “If we buy this product my metrics will be better, the team will do better and I’ll be promoted faster”. Boom. Developer’s opinion matters a lot.


On the other hand, there are users that no matter how much they complain, nobody cares about them. If that's true, PLG will not help you at all.

2) Is the product useful for a small team?

When we follow the PLG approach, the product needs to have value for a small team of up to 4-5 people. Why? Because if you need the whole company to buy into the product for it to provide value, that has to be a top down decision made by a VP or C-Level.


A great example of this is Airbyte. In their case, the message is: “Hey, with Airbyte you can connect Google sheets or Excel spreadsheets and mix them together and create reports in there”. That is very useful for a very small team. 

Then when you add more teams, you can add more sources to Airbyte. Eventually, if the entire organization uses the tool, you can connect the data warehouse and you can get charts of everything. But it starts with delivering value for a small team.

3) Is the product more useful if more teams use it?

Product Led Growth uses a land and expand model. So you land with one team, and then you expand to the entire Org (similar to Airbyte’s example). 


If the product becomes more useful as more teams use it, following a PLG approach makes sense. That’s because a few people inside the Org who use the product will start convincing other teams to join them.


Imagine Slack for a second. If the marketing team starts using Slack, that’s great. But if other teams start using Slack too, that’s great for the company's internal communication.


4) Does your product have a good UX?

A PLG Product requires the user to do self discovery and understanding of the product. If the product UX is bad, they cannot do that succesfully.The user will only recommend a product to more people if they like it.


A good example of this is Marketo. As marketers, I imagine most of you reading this article have used Marketo. It's a great product because it integrates with tools and does multiple things well. But the UX is simply not good and that’s why you require folks who are experts in Marketo to use it. Marketo could never be a PLG product. 


5) Does the product have a good onboarding?

Onboarding is the bridge from acquisition to activation. It is the moment when the user understands the value proposition and thinks: “Oh WOW! This is the real value of what this product does”. 


The onboarding experience has to take the user through that journey painlessly and as fast as possible. If it’s hard to understand or it takes a lot of time for the user to get to the WOW moment, PLG will never work because the users will drop before realizing the value. And then the retention will be very, very low. 



Now you can make a more informed decision around Product Led Growth.
If you answered “YES” to all five questions, then probably PLG is a good alternative for your product. - Gonto