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  • Donald Plumley

The Marketing Mindset

Is PLG an evolutionary step from Kotler's Marketing Mindset?


In today’s era of self-service marketing where the typical customer does research online far in advance of contacting a salesperson, providing information that aligns with the customer’s articulated and unarticulated needs is critical to create self-sustaining sales growth. In other words, by the time the prospect has reviewed information online about the product(s) they need, they have gained sufficient exposure (education) to have developed trust in the company as an expert in the field. They then feel confident they are making an informed decision to purchase before the company becomes aware of the interest in purchase.



Auto dealer Cal Worthington tapes a commercial in Los Angeles in 1985. (Los Angeles Times via Associated Press) (Uncredited)

In a recent conversation with Partner Fred Felman, he shared his experiences fostering a Product Led Growth (PLG) strategy. I mentioned it sounds a lot like Kotler's marketing mentality from the 1970s, after you sprinkle in the self-service elements that technology has facilitated over the last two decades. Fred says that PLG incorporates many product marketing fundamentals with the idea that the product largely does the work of GTM. He is also quick to point out that employing PLG doesn't preclude using a sales force, and in fact for enterprise sales the most successful product-led motions almost always have a sales component. He cites one of the earliest examples of PLG was McAfee antivirus software. it was passed from user to user via a floppy disk, and McAfee's sales teams would in turn contact the end-user-computing group within large companies to sell them licenses for every network-connected computer. Distribution by download greatly accelerates this motion, as demonstrated by Dropbox, Slack, and other contemporary SaaS companies.




Sage Partner Donald Plumley contributed this Sage Advice.

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