May 25, 2022

as an investor And lately, as a product manager, I’ve met a lot of companies that have failed, and some of them have succeeded in their product-centric development (PLG) efforts.

The PLG path is never easy, but it can be a powerful path to lasting success.

I’ve turned my experience into a short but important list of requirements that I believe will greatly increase your startup’s chances of success.

Create (or rebuild) a self-service experience

A comprehensive approach to getting started on the PLG journey is to create a login page and make the entire product available for self-service. Maybe attached to it is a trendy marketing campaign.

Now, if the product is not so simple, the user can automatically a-ha! After a few minutes, I have never seen this approach work.

There is no living person in the PLG environment to provide the platform or keep the customer through the product. If the homepage is not understood within seconds and the product is not up and running within minutes, the client will immediately abandon everything the startup has to offer.

Think of bite-sized experiences, each with a meaningful outcome for the client.

Payback time optimization requires finding the smallest, atomic, self-contained units of cost that you can pack into a self-service offering. This has the advantage of providing added value without overwhelming the prospect and keeping them engaged.

Some founders say their products are too complex to be loaned to PLG. How about designing an experience that reflects the essence of the product, rather than abandoning self-service entirely due to the complexity of pre-packaged products or the sandbox? Depending on the use case, this could mean, for example, an offering running on a multi-cloud, a pre-configured installation, or running on multiple virtual endpoints.

Self-service does not mean that the entire product will function in the setup desired by the customer. Think of bite-sized experiences, each with a meaningful outcome for the client.

Toolkit, measure and manage customer touchpoints

It is common knowledge that product-centric development can be a challenging task to solve problems due to the inherent uncomplicated nature of this go-to-market approach.

Consider a scenario where conversion to a paid product is low. Is it because you are giving away too many products for free? Benefits of a paid product not clearly stated? Is it because you are targeting a low-budget customer segment? Is the price too high (or too low)?

To determine whether the problem is product packaging, positioning, pricing, market segmentation, or a combination of the two, you need data to inform the problem-solving process. This is why I recommend carefully evaluating various customer touchpoints (including but not limited to product usage) before launching a self-service product.

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