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Wes Bush is the bestselling author of Product-Led Growth. He’s a world-renowned Product-Led Growth pioneer and is the host of the popular Product-Led Summit - where you can learn from the best product leaders on the planet, for free. This is your opportunity to Ask Him Anything you've always wanted to know about Product-Led and all things Growth!

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    over 1 year ago #

    Hey Wes

    Im interested in your take on what the difference between growth hacking and product-led growth really is, if any?

    Some quick background: I was actually on the GH team for a few years and learned most of what I know about growth hacking directly from Sean Ellis.

    At the simplest level, what I learned was that growth hacking is that its a process of iterative testing with a cross functional team, throughout the customer journey to discover your biggest opportunities for growth - all of which should be focused on helping grow the value delivered to your customers (measured by a North Star Metric)
    If we use the simple AARRR funnel as a representation of the customer journey - by definition, most of the growth opportunities are within the product experience and the better you make it, the more value your users can derive from it.

    So, growth hacking - as I was taught to practice it - is product-led growth.
    Hence my curiosity as to any distinctions between the two terms from your perspective.

    • WB

      Wes Bush

      over 1 year ago #

      Great question.

      To me, growth hacking is an iterative process that you can use to grow ANY business. Even in my book on Product-Led Growth, I recommended people to use Sean Ellis' ICE framework to prioritize what experiments to launch.

      Where I see the lines split between growth hacking and product-led growth is not every business can be product-led.

      There will always be room for traditional sales-led companies.

      Product-led companies are unique. You need a quick time-to-value, have the right market conditions and strategy for it to work.

      Before any company decides to go down the product-led growth path, I recommend going through the MOAT framework I put together so that you can come to your own conclusion on whether it makes sense or not for your company.


      1 Share
  • PC

    Pedro Clivati

    over 1 year ago #

    Hey, Wes - tks for doing this, looking forward to your take on the following questions:

    1) We previously see a lot of PLG for lower-tier products (low ACV). What's your take into using PLG for higher-tier products (enterprise customers)? Is the only way to achieve that a bottom-up sales approach (eg. Zoom)?

    2) I believe having your data straight is a must for a PLG strategy to work. Would you build your own data-warehouse to manage that or simply use a behavioral data analysis tool (eg. amplitude, mixpanel)?

    3) What's the best balance/ratio between automation and personalization in terms of a product touches (automated emails, banners, in-app messages) vs. sales approach (personally written emails, social touches, etc)?

    Thanks again!

    • WB

      Wes Bush

      over 1 year ago #

      1) Just because most product-led companies have a low ACV doesn't mean you can't eventually turn it into a high ACV sale. Just take Slack, since you're probably familliar with them, when you start an account and share it with a co-worker, you might start paying once you have 5 co-workers on the platform but then as your team increases in size to 10 or 1,000, there's naturally an opportunity to grow.

      On the flip side, had Slack not had a freemium experience and required you to sign up for a 100k enterprise deal without any of your team using the product, it would have been a much harder sell.

      2) Preach! I wish more people realized this. Having product analytics is a must. Whether that's amplitude, mixpanel, heap or another solution I'm product agnostic. The main thing is that you're tracking the key milestones a user needs to accomplish in your product.

      3) If it's automated, it better still be useful. If it's person, it better be worth it.

      To find a good balance, I recommend reading CHP 13 of my book that covers creating a conversational bumper in your product experience.

      You'll find that the majority of the personal touches can be automated if done correctly.

      Here's the free chapter: https://productled.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Bowling-Alley-Framework.pdf

      4 Share
  • AC

    Andrew Capland

    over 1 year ago #

    Hey Wes,

    Pumped to have you here sharing the knowledge.

    1. How should startups think about onboarding and activation when they don't have enough install volume to run conclusive testing programs yet?

    2. How have you approached building your personal brand? If you had to start over, what might you do differently?

    Looking forward to learning from you!


    • WB

      Wes Bush

      over 1 year ago #

      Hey boss!

      1. Deliver value to your user as quick as humanely possible.

      Most companies miss this. They try to over complicate onboarding. At the end of the day, it's pretty simple. Make their lives better with your product. Cut out the crap that gets in the way of that.

      2. Posting lots of selfies.

      I'm kidding.

      Building a personal brand is about consistency and going all in on something that you're genuinely passionate about.

      When I went all in on PLG, I LOVED the topic and felt I could help a lot more people understand what it's all about and how to use it in their businesses.

      But, it wasn't just because I was passionate about it. I had witnessed first-hand the power of PLG at multiple B2B SaaS companies. I drank the cool aid from first experience and had a story to back my brand.

      If I was to start over, I would have focused on building a platform earlier.

      For instance, when I reached out to you to learn more about onboarding, it was just us chatting. Not much value for you. By building a platform, whether that be a podcast or virtual summit, you can build relationships and provide incredible value to your guests.

      2 Share
  • GN

    Gustavo Nunes

    over 1 year ago #

    Hey, Wes.

    Thanks for taking some time to answer our questions.

    To be honest, I've discovered the term Product-Led Growth last year and my questions may sound too simple haha

    1- If I'm starting a SaaS company, how can I leverage PLG? Where should I start?
    2- Everybody talks a lot about adding a freemium solution within your product offering. What other options can I explore in order to grow my base of users?
    3- Are you planning to write another book or one was enough work?

    • WB

      Wes Bush

      over 1 year ago #

      Never too simple. :)

      1. Start with understanding the three reasons that people buy your product:

      1. Functional Outcome: the core tasks that customers want to get done.
      Most businesses can pinpoint what their product does. For instance, people use Google Ads to acquire leads that (hopefully) will turn into customers. For a business intelligence tool, this could be understanding the core KPIs of your business.

      Although people take the functional outcome into consideration when buying a product, most companies forget to consider the emotional and social outcomes. If you don’t know the emotional or social outcomes people are looking for when buying your product, you could be missing out on some serious profitability.

      (This is the difference between someone dishing out $30 for a hamburger at a fancy restaurant versus spending $2.50 on a McDonald’s cheeseburger.)

      2. Emotional Outcome: how customers want to feel or avoid feeling as a result of executing the core functional outcome.
      Understanding your emotional outcome can be tricky. For instance, do you want someone who uses Google Ads to feel empowered to grow their business? Of course! But, do you know if they actually feel empowered? You’ll never know until you start asking your customers.

      For a business intelligence tool, this could be the feeling of excitement or surprise as you discover a big opportunity (or threat) for your business with new data.

      Lastly, you need to understand your social outcome.

      3. Social Outcome: how customers want to be perceived by others by using your product.
      For Google Ads, this could be showcasing a report of your campaign’s performance to your boss. For a business intelligence tool, this could be sharing a weekly revenue report to your executive team that makes you look like a professional designer. Co-workers ask how you put together such an incredible presentation.

      If you can understand the three main outcomes behind why people buy your product—and execute on it—you’re on the right track to building a strong product-led foundation. The challenge, however, is always in the execution. For instance, if your product offers video hosting but people sign up thinking that you’re a video marketing agency, they’re doomed from the start. No wizard or product tour can save that. Period.

      2. Product-Led Marketing is one way.

      Create a free tool that people can use.

      It can be as simple as creating a UTM builder https://www.gosquared.com/campaign-url-builder/

      or as complex as creating an entire tool like Neil Patel https://neilpatel.com/ubersuggest/

      3. You bet.

      I'm working on the next. :)

      1 Share
  • BB

    Barbara Bonfim

    over 1 year ago #

    Wes, thanks for taking the time to share your expertise.

    In your experience, what are the must-have steps during a transitioning period to a PLG strategy coming from an inside sales background?
    Also, what are the roles and skills the team heading this strategy should have?

    Thanks again!

    • WB

      Wes Bush

      over 1 year ago #

      Love this question.

      You need someone on the executive team to lead the charge.

      I've tried to lead this transition from the bottom-up and it never works. The more executive fire power you have behind the initiative, the better.

      This is oversimplified but the two main skills the team leading this strategy should have are:

      1) Customer research
      2) Experimentation

      1 drives the insights on what needs to be solved.
      2 finds creative ways to move the needle in the right direction.

      2 Share
  • JR


    over 1 year ago #

    Hi Wes!

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences and impressions with us today. I have a few questions I would love to get your insights:

    What are the main organizational changes that you have seen in companies that adopted product led growth?
    What are the most common misconceptions about product led growth you have encountered so far?
    What do you believe are the main barriers for adopting product let growth?


    • WB

      Wes Bush

      over 1 year ago #

      Hey Jordana,

      Thanks for having me here. :)

      The main organizational shift is that every team in the company asks how they can use the product to hit their goals.

      Here's an example:

      A product-led marketing team asks, “How can we use our product as the #1 lead magnet?”

      A product-led sales team asks, “How can we use the product to qualify our prospects for us?” That way, we have conversations with people that already understand our value.

      The product-led customer success team asks, “How can we create a product that helps customers become successful without our help?”

      While the product-led engineering team asks, “How can we create a product with a quick time-to-value?”

      Re: misconceptions. A lot of people are pretty confused about the role of "selling" in a product-led company. Should you have a sales team or no? Part of the confusion is because "it depends". For some, yes, you still need a sales team, but for the majority, it can be optional.

      Re: barriers. If you have a large sales team, making the shift can be especially challenging. Do you fire all your sales reps? Or do you build a model that accommodates both enterprise deals and services SMBs with a frictionless experience. The answer is the later but most people do nothing as they're scared of disrupting their sales team's goals.

      2 Share
  • VK

    Vivek Kumar

    over 1 year ago #

    Hey Wes!
    Out team is building an App for small and medium business where they can bring their customers onboard to increase retention, manage services/operations efficiently and use the platform to market/grow their customer base all with a simple Mobile based UI. I want to focus more on product-led growth as even though my paying clients would be 'Small and Medium businesses' but eventually their end-customers would decide the success for both us and our clients.
    What should be our approach for the product development and UI?

  • MZ

    Michael Zima

    over 1 year ago #

    Crushing it!

  • NW

    Neo Wu

    over 1 year ago #

    Hi, Wes. I am working as a data analysis intern in a top Internet company in China. My leader is working on the personalization and he want me to collect some cases about the mobile app's daily notification strategy. I wonder that if there are any materials or books related to this topic to read? Thanks a lot.

  • MA

    Maximiliano Alejandro

    over 1 year ago #

    Hi, what's the best way to get into growth hacking or produce lead growth? I feel it's a subject I'm passionate about but from Argentina I don't know how to start (I'd like to make it my professional career).

    What are the skills I should learn?

    Thank you!

    • WB

      Wes Bush

      over 1 year ago #

      Join the PLG community to learn from others: productledcommunity.com

      Attend the Product-Led Summit for free to watch the top PLG leaders share their tactics and strategies: productledsummit.com

  • WH

    Wenlan Hu

    over 1 year ago #

    Hi Wes,

    I've seen tons of growth hacking for SaaS or consumer products. Any books/blogs you can recommend for B2B? I am working for a biotech startup. It's not easy to find relevant learning materials.

    Thank you so much,

    Wenlan Hu

    • WB

      Wes Bush

      over 1 year ago #

      Have you heard of the book on Product-Led Growth? ;) I heard it's an easy read. You can check it out here: productled.com/book

  • JJ

    jayakrishnan j

    over 1 year ago #

    Why is it hard leads after generating organic traffic for the right keywords? What are the best consecutive steps you can take to achieve the same? Thanks.