Link to full episode
Jason Tissera | Upmarket: Hi, everyone. Thanks so much for being with us today. We have Tony Yang. In Tony's role as a growth adviser in market capital he's helped startups, build the right, go to market strategy for their business. He's joining us today to share his experience helping stars build successful product led growth companies. Thanks so much for being with us today, Tony.
Tony Yang: Hey Jason, thanks for having me. Glad to be here.
Jason Tissera | Upmarket: So right out of the gate. Wanted to understand what are some factors that you consider when deciding what product length strategy is right for a company. And then how do you go about advising them to us out whether it's what they should be doing.
Tony Yang: Yeah, that's a great question product like it is a very hot topic and fuzzy topic. It seems like the last couple of years. It's been really taken off, at least in the tech space tech startup, you know. : I think, just from my experience, a lot of people equate PLG to a premium strategy which actually has been around for a long time. You know a lot of tech companies, even before there was this term called PLG had in adopted or implemented essentially like a free free trial premium, free to pay type of motion for their technology product, and that well, that's certainly a component to it. I personally, I don't see that as the only, and you know, equivalent to product. Let growth, because there's certainly a companies that take more of a let's just say enterprise sales type of motion, but of adopted usage, a product to help them expand your growth. And so your question around you know what, whether or not product led growth as a go to market. Strategy is suitable for particular company.I don't think there's a right answer. A single might answer to that. I think it has to do with You know. How does the company plan on on growth. There could be obvious examples where you know a plg approach may not make sense.
Tony Yang: I don't know heavily regulated industries where you know there's a lot of hurdles to go through, or extremely, you know, upper end of the market enterprise. If you're trying to sell to, the the top telecom companies in the world for this massive offering and there's no easy way to roll out your product to those companies without having to engage in a sales conversation. And even then the the motion for that is a very standard typical enterprise motion where you're building relationships you're engaging in a sales process, perhaps going through a PO purchase order, perhaps going through security in the client science that sometimes can happen without ever having anybody on the client side utilize the product because the product is just not built for that kind of approach. So yeah, so there's no one single approach or a single answer to PLG. Whether or not it's for your company, I will say that for a lot of Bdb companies which are primarily the companies that I work with at Mucker. We do have some direct consumer type of companies and fintech by large most of our portfolio are B2B SaaS. A good portion of that can potentially adopt a PLG approach. It's just a matter of, you know, when is the right time to do so? So I hope that's the answer to your question. Because again, there's no at least, in my opinion a single definitive answer to say, Yes, you should do PLG for your company or no.
Jason Tissera | Upmarket: That's totally fair. I think that there's kind of a matrix that you can look at when you're thinking about what situations PLG is applicable for. So if you're doing really complex top down sales, for example, like you said to highly regulated industries, it's probably not in the the right quadrant of saying, yeah, PLG is a good fit for you versus if you're doing more of a bottom up sale, where you have a lot of different users that can access the product without having to go through a lot of administrative hoops. Then that's probably a better fit.
Tony Yang: Yeah, and kind of going back to this whole concept that there's no like a black or white answer to this. I've certainly worked at companies in the past. I'm trying to think of relative examples where we did have. You know, a sales traditional sales and marketing funnel go to motion right like targeting target accounts, you know, account based marketing that's like one of those other topics that was really buzzing for a while now it's like PLG so there's like these trends in the tech space that I've seen. But there were certainly companies that working in the past where You know we had an enterprise, sales, motion, traditional motion where sales people v ours. Our Sdrs try to set some meetings or demos and then, qualifies the prospect, and tries to get into a meeting with the decision maker. And then there's a longer sales process to it. There are certain instances where we adopt a product component to it - whether or not you call it PLG: I think those are the different shades of grade. That is what a lot of people think of spectrum between product levers and sales. At the end of the day it's just what works for a company, right. And so this particular example, something that we did that we found to be effective was okay. Well, if these Bdrs, Sdr. And Sales reps are focused on. Let's say target accounts. You know they've got, you know, top 200 accounts that they want to go after at and given time. We implemented a motion where we did have in this case either a free version or a free trial, and going from a top down as well as the bottoms approach. We then surface to the aes into You know where they work. Usually crm salesforce or hubspot, or what have you? And we push data back into these Crm systems where the sales community marketing teams, where that I typically run and manage data points that says, okay, look - In the last 4 weeks or so last month there were 12 new free account. Individual sign ups on this product, and so, you know, go and reach back out to the key decision maker, or the it person, or whoever to go and see if you could sell an enterprise license, you know, by pitching them or telling them. Look, hey? We noticed that there, you know, 20 people or 12 people who signed up with this account is this something that you guys are trying to find to solve a pain point for your to various teams. Can we help in some sort of way? And so that's like a really quick, high, level example. You could get a lot more sophisticated that with usage level metrics figuring out regions.If you're selling to an enterprise, you know, like hey, East Coast offers adopted Well, your Asia office is, you know, someone you've been talking to what are different ways. You could utilize product data or usage data to help feel a traditional sales, a model or a motion.I find that to have to work really well when companies are trying to adopt a hybrid. So yeah, there's certainly different ways to look at a product that growth again it doesn't necessarily equate to you.Smb: Only self, certain motion. There are all these different ways to implement theology for sure if we're to double click on that a little bit. When you think about the types of companies that are able to put together. This rather sophisticated
Jason Tissera | Upmarket: application elementary that then they could send over to the to the sales team like what size companies would you say, are normally able to do that type of setup?
Tony Yang: Oh, that's a difficult question, too, because the big component of that is being able to link your product through your platform to
Tony Yang: your go-to-market systems like Crm for marking automation or sales engaging tools like an outreach or a sales law that you know Sdrs are are utilizing for their out outbound. I'll put out. And so does it make sense for a very, very early stage company to start doing that? Well, a lot of companies that we work with that Mucker are very early stage. We operate an accelerator program where you know by the nature of an accelerator program program, it's usually small startup teams, typically just the co-founder, and maybe a handful of developers.
And it's typically one of the co-founder is doing all the sales, you know, less sales, and they're just getting off the ground, some of them having even discovered or identified product market fit yet, and so does it make sense to start building those connectors. They're not even at a point where they've established a go to market strategy. And so it's sort of putting the cart before the horse. Now, at some point, you know as a company scales, then they're starting to learn. Okay, what's the most effective way for us to acquire, retain, choir, activate, retain customers.
Tony Yang: Once they start doing that, then it's a matter of okay. What can we do? An example that I just shared where you're connecting product data to your go-to-market systems. What do you need to do in order to get those 2 systems to talk to, you know, to get data from one system to another, and that usually requires engineering resources. Now you could argue for earlier sage companies, and again. I don't know where where you guys are at with up market, but you know. Imagine your earlier days, or maybe you're in that stage. Are you willing to dedicate your the bandwidth of your engineering hours, or, you know, team to build these connectors? Or are they building or core product functionality to solve these for an existing customer who are already signed, you know, a led up in 10, or you know, a purchase agreement, and you're trying to to close that deal right? And so it's trying to figure out. Okay, when can we? What is the right time to address building a go-to-market strategy versus what do we need to do at the earlier States to just be scrappy, get customers and find ways to, you know, to do that until we could establish more of a repetitive, scalable process with a full blown.
Tony Yang: I won't say folklore, but the more established go to market strategy. So yeah, if there's a continuum again. Like not, every company is going to adopt a PLG as one of their growth strategies, even if they're further along in mature, perhaps with the above a company, because maybe it's just more work that's been there. You know their focus. The resources on existing. Go to market models, direct, go to market with their own sales team. There could be industries where channels and channel partners and programs is a heavy component of how a company grows, and maybe that's the only way they can grow, and if there is no way to utilize product through a product like growth, motion through channels, then you know. If product led growth doesn't make sense for them at any sort of point in their their growth stages. So yeah, it really depends. Again, it's just one of those answers that it depends and it’s not black and white.
Jason Tissera | Upmarket: Yeah, to that. That I mean that totally makes sense. And I think that gives people a lot of insight into how to think about these these types of questions when it when it's regarding what strategy to use and what's the best fit for a company. Something that early stage companies have a lot of trouble figuring out is how to get that initial product experience from sign up to activation to subscription in such a to a point where it's fluid and works really well for their users. Have you had any experience guiding companies to to figure this out?
Tony Yang: Yeah. So first of all, like I I went through years ago a program called Reforge. I have no relationship with them. He how you you guys haven't heard of Reforge.. It's a program that teaches a lot of different strategies. Go to market, and I took one on product like not necessarily a product like road, but around retention. And so i'm a firm believer in that where I I learned a lot from that when I was part of that program years ago. Relate to your question or to answer your question. I can learn from past mistakes where you know : I, as a marketing leader at a startup was tasked to accomplish certain goals or objectives in a product that motion that a lot of people view as marketing, which is net new customer acquisition. Okay? And so at this one particular company. Yeah, Well, sure who it is. But the CEO came up to me and said, hey, we're we're launching a free version of our product as as part of our growth strategy. Yes, we do have enterprise, but we're watching a free one go and acquire free users for us to get them to upgrade. That was my goal, and the mistake that I made was: not pushing back early enough to dig into, You know the with the product manager and the product leader to figure out. Okay,: is the back end of user experience established well enough so that you know, we're actually accomplishing the end goal, which is getting paid customers or paid subscriptions, because we could get a a ton of free sign-ups that actually Don't ever use or perhaps even log in. And that is not. That's not the goal, right, because that's just a waste of time. And so I made that mistake earlier on my career.
Tony Yang: And so these days, when I advise: companies in our portfolio who are starting to adopt the product Li growth machine, we're at the very least trying to figure out. Okay, we have a free version of our product available. We're seeing customer sign up, but they're not converting. Well, let's figure out what, and I always like to work backwards, right? And so again, there's probably more information on this in reforce program. I'm not trying to plug them or anything but the things that I really like about how they look at it which I brought with me along my career is working backwards, starting from the end result. What are the different milestones I don't want to use the worst States. Let's just say milestones from a user or product experience that you want to accomplish before someone: it's by or enters in their company credit card to activate a paid subscription. Let's just take this model because there's a lot of different models out there where you put, you know, credit card, a table upfront, even just to get into and there's different things that I've tested in my past experience. But let's just assume at the end of that user experience is they've seen value in the product enough where they're willing to enter into Company credit card and get on a pay subscription with your, you know, with your offering. And so what do they need to do to get to that point. Well, usually people talk about the aha moment right? The how about it is the way I look at it is. I like to use the frameworks jobs to be done as one of the frameworks. If you are trying to solve a pain point, do something for your target market: through your product. Well, they have a certain job to be done. Are they able to hit that point where they say, oh, this is exactly what I need to do by you to our pink when I use I can software by using your product. But that's there's a step in between that and paid, which is making me repeatable. You want it to be part of their routine as opposed to just, you know, doing it once so just by the aha moment is, you know, a very key important milestone. But how do you encourage a regular behavior, or a regular occurrence of that moment? That's where you see continual value for someone to be willing to. pay on a regular basis for your product. So I always tell them - Look, let's work backwards.
Tony Yang: These are the stages in between regular realization of the outcome moment, first time, Aha! Moment, and then even before the i'm like, what are the key milestones, or what's the big deal to that we call onboarding or activation of let's just say a self, sir, either it's a free or even a free trial. You want to get to that point so that they could get to the moment and what it build that product experience to guide them down that path and then think about okay. How do we make it easy for someone to simply sign up? And then how do we even find people to bring them to the product to actually sign up in the first place. So I again I learned from my mistakes. If you focus on just acquisition first, and don't figure out all the stuff that happens afterwards. Then you're in a world of hurt. Because and I I went through this, the CEO would say, Look, you're getting all the wrong people. No, they actually right profile. Well, why aren't they buying?
Oh, I don't know. Let's let me figure that out by not time. It's too late, because I've already spent all these resources getting create users onto the platform. But nothing happened to them right, so I always suggest working backwards, finding out what the key milestones are, and then build that product experience to guide your users down that path.
Jason Tissera | Upmarket: Oh, absolutely! I think it's. It's really really important to understand and draw out that product, journey and customer journey as early as possible before you start using these resources to try to acquire new users. It makes absolute sense. But then also, as they come in, giving them the onboarding experience: that works the best for them to get them to the aha! Moment. We we like to think of value, realized right that they've seen it. They've seen the opportunity, and now they've gone and realized the actual value of the platform. It's only until you can get them to that step which is 4 or 5 steps into the product, or you can actually ask them, hey? It's time to pay.
Tony Yang: the jobs to be done. Framework is a great framework, in my opinion, because it helps you focus on guiding the product strands down this one path, or accomplishing this one thing, because the common mistake that I see the even not through a product. Lead experience even with things like a sales led motion where you get into a a demo and a sales rep is actually doing a demo, the the the the mistake that I see a lot is throwing everything at the prospect for the lead right, which is in a demo experience. Sales led: motion dip film is showing a demo showing every single feature of the product, basically drowning them. And all these different functionalities of your product that maybe the sales rep could get school, or you know the company thing is cool, but the prospect doesn't really care. They just want to know how to do this 1 one thing or 2 things for solve this one, and so by throwing everything at them, you sort of lost their attention in that sales demo approach same thing with a product. Let growth approach. And I again I mentioned this is top of like some how they the company think through this, which is.they made their onboarding experience. They're trying to streamline it where you're not. They're not asking, you know, 20 questions upfront in order to sign up for the product. Well, how can you break that up to make you know the hurdle : small, so that they could go through step by step, but, by the same token, with what I just described, once they get into the product, are there ways that you could guide them to understanding. What are they trying to accomplish as opposed to, you know, going through all the different things you could do like. I just went through this also on the receiving our Our firm adopted this new sort of CRM technology, and, you know, like the the company self, the onboarding, the the Customer success person. She's great. She's very knowledgeable. But the first meeting I was in they were going through. Here's all the different use of level Roles authentication which might be important for the act of eventual administrator at some point. But for someone like me I had very specific things. I want to accomplish or address, and she didn't get to it until I actually asked, how do you do this? And you know, like that was already halfway or 3 quarters away in the call. Same kind of concept right, and it product, lead, or a self service model. How do you make it so that you're guiding them down this optimal path without throwing everything that's totally irrelevant to what they're trying to accomplish: in their user space. So yeah, that's one of the things that I think trying to figure out will take time, but put yourself in use the shoes of your user and: you know i'm sure you have got through this. I have as well. It's so frustrating when you're trying to. Let's say, sign up for a product to test something out. And they put all these barriers in front of you before you can even do all these things that you wanted to do or figure out whether or not the product national. Do this thing, and at some point, you know some people would just give up and say, yeah, this is too much work. Let me go Find another alternative, because I know there are 3 other products out there that does similar things. Maybe they would have to give me a better experience.
Jason Tissera | Upmarket: it's a huge risk. Actually, once you've done all this work to bring this person into your product through. They're not paying yet, but in many ways that are a customer, and for the experience to let them down, and for them to go, and you know, change and go try something else. I mean it. It. It really is a huge risk for your onboarding not to be really thoughtful. One thing that i'm super interested in thinking through is with the sales led motion, especially when you're delivering a complex product. Have you seen any companies that do a really good job of monitoring their their prospect as they go through the Poc from a product perspective where they're analyzing everything that the the prospect is doing while they're using this product during the trial and using that information to improve the sale.
Tony Yang: Yeah. So we I did this at a particular company that I was working with, and i'll share with you. It it was a a predictive analytics from marketing to be marketing, and Sales Company called meant to go: and they were start up back by. They eventually got acquired on. So you know there's some success stories, and also you learn from past mistakes. But in this particular example that you're talking about. . At that time in terms of, you know, typical deal sizes because we sold to B2b to be right the marketing of sales teams. So companies like oracle,: red hat, and you know, different larger enterprises. Those were our types of ideal customer profile right? And so I mean, yeah, it's big relative to people. But let's just say on average, we were looking at a 150 K annual contracts. Okay, just on average, if I remember correctly. And so we didn't. If I recall we did not have the self service motion of our product. We had pretty traditional enterprise sales motion. We had a pretty sizable team for a company of our 6 size or stage sales reps, and then we had a smaller Sdr team and you know I read the marketing and the mansion team where we did. You know all the typical marketing and demand for the type of: activities and campaigns. And yeah, we did something as well, something didn't. But essentially it was a very traditional approach where marketing helps generate. One quote leads, or Mqols, or whatever, and you know Sdrs will either follow up or do their own outbound. And then, you know, marketing also provides your cover for those prospects that are being targeted for outbound. We did adopt an account based marketing strategy, utilizing our own software. You know our own dog food, drinking on the traffic, and whatever you want to call it, but a a common piece of this motion which you brought up is doing a proof of concept, a poc, right? Because at that time it was a fairly new technology predictive analytics for B2B marketing at the time it was, there was no set category. There are a handful of vendors in the same space as us.: And people were just starting to learn about how to utilize this kind of technology to accomplish their goals for sales and marketing. And so part of what was expected was to do these payoffs proof of concepts. Someone would would do approved concept. With West. With us they would do a proof of concept with our, You know, next 2 competitors at that time companies like 6 cents, or ever string, or a lot of San Js. You know those really aren't the typical, usual suspects in the deal, and they would do these bake offs where they compare the results of these pocs across all these different vendors, right? And so your question was around. Okay, how does that experience? Because PLG: as a concept, does that include this example of a proof of concept mode in a sales that motion at the end of the day, whether we call or not, it the fact is we're utilizing a product and plotting experience through a proof of concept to show value to true value to that to the the prospect right? That's what they're doing, and so, like I mentioned before, the worst thing that we could have done was give them an access to our platform, You know proof of concept. It's just you could almost think of it as a limited trial. Yes, we guide it. But the worst thing we could do is just say, here it is, and create a temporary log for you. Yeah, you need to connect to your systems. But go ahead. Got it. That's the worst thing, because then you're relying on the prospect to understand how to use your product to extract. Now, you that's part of: the typical PLG motion, especially on the self, Serve which is, how do you make the product experience so easy enough that the user could understand or extract value by themselves, but it doesn't have to be that way in the pocs that we ran. We did have people not just a sales or not, because the sales reps are the one that's managing typically the relationships.
Tony Yang: We would have sales, engineers because we sold to marketing teams, and I use. I was our internal customer product lot of times. Our sales reps will bring me into the sales calls, where you know
Tony Yang: one of the companies that we're about to close the deal on they were doing in the middle of poc. They brought me in and said, Look, here's how meant to go is using me to go. Tony is our main user and we're using it this way, and I would show them. Look, look at this is how i'm utilizing it. And so it's kind of like a a guided tour, for example, or whatever you want to call it. So that prospect and say, oh, okay, so that's how you do it. And this is what I want to look for, or this is what you should look for. This is, you know we don't say this to the customer, but in in on the back end, with the ae of the sales. Rep. We always say, Look, this is what we want to accomplish with the poc. To prove this, that we could do it, accomplish this for the prospect. And let's how do we move and get to to that point and guidance, or that poc process? So, yeah, pocs, especially if it's the process. That's a a part of, let's say, an end prize for traditional sales that invoking whether you call it PLGor not. It's it doesn't really matter. The point is, for if you're doing that, you still need to guide the user experience so that they ultimately see balance or realize values in your in your term I can use earlier. That's how they prove the concept right, but through that it's actually solving a me. It's something pain, point accomplishing the job to be done. And, in our example, with bay costs, that you're doing it either better, faster or cheaper than the next year is comparative. They're doing a pay top of you versus you know some of these other things.
Jason Tissera | Upmarket: How far away were these experiences, these poc experiences from the product team and the development team that actually built the systems Did feedback get to them, or were they actually able to dissipate in the poc and watch and guide it in any way.
Tony Yang: So in that that company product team was typically pretty involved, like our team officer would either take part or listen in, or at least, you know. At least listen to it, or oftentimes get brought into some of the sales meetings at some point. Keep in mind, You know we were selling like, I said before, a Cv. Deals of 100 decay on average, sometimes larger. Someone's a little bit smaller, so it wasn't worth it because it's not like we were high volume, you know, transactional type of price for the market. It was more critical enterprise, and so it makes sense for us to have dedicated time allocated from our product leader or engineering. To understand,Okay, this is what the customer is looking for. In fact, that was part of our process for learning to improve the product. The next iteration of a product or next release include will include, you know, these 2 things that we've heard 20 prospects that we just talked in the last half a year asked about, and that's how they prioritize certain feature releases and things like that. So yeah, for sure, having the product or usually not engineering. Sometimes we would bring them in. But usually someone who owns a product or is very close to the product is part of that discussion, because we want to learn, and also it makes sense for us to to utilize that to close part of the deal. It's also a closing mechanism. Because how great is it when you say, yeah, we're bringing our Cpo to product officer or somebody, our CEO to specifically spend time to understand what you guys are needing to do, and we're going to make it happen for sure. Right? So it's it's a for a white glove type of approach.
Jason Tissera | Upmarket: You know. I I think that's incredible. With regards to running experiments. Were there any experiments that that you've seen run that were really beneficial to figuring out the product led process.
Tony Yang: Yeah. Yeah. The one that I that comes to mind was a company, a startup that I worked at maybe 10 years ago, again keep in mind like 10 years ago it wasn't called product, but we had a free version free to pay motion. We also had tested out things like 3 versus free trial. We tested out things between free trial like 7 days, 14 days, 30 days. We even tested out. This is an interesting one that i'll bring up as an example whether or not to put a paywall at the beginning of the sign u: so part of the sign I've experience. We test that. And just for a little bit more contacts, the company that I was working with it was a startup. They're they're no longer around their company called Noodle, the K. But high level. It was an e-learning platform back in the day that at that time social media was really taking off right. It's a new thing. And so we were. We built a platform that was called a social learning platform. So incorporate elements of social with the traditional learning system. How a message which has been around for a long time anyway. The example that I wanted to bring up was, we did a text like I specifically, because this was one of it wasn't this company. But this was one of the instances where, you know, hey? I was responsible for growth and trying to acquire more customers, not just : free users for free trials, but getting that to convert one of the tests that ran more experience than I man was. Do we make the sign up process when someone hits the landing page or goes to our website and click, sign up the we Just the test was a simple form basic data points that you need to create an account name, email address, maybe company name. Yeah, we have company name. I think maybe job title. I think that was it Perhaps we added phone number, but you know, at some point we did add a data enrichment tools of some of this stuff. We didn't need to ask upfront, but basically a short form, right? And he has this before the days where you have, you know, authentication through Google or Facebook. This was just, you know, simple for And then we tested where we have that. But there was a secondary step where you have to enter in credit card information. This was for a free trial experience where we said, okay: we need you to fill in your credit card information to complete your sign up. We're not going to charge you until you know your trial ends in 14 days or 30 days, or t what have you? And then, like? I said, we ran different experiments, testing at time and length over time, period. And so
the key learning for this company, not to say that's applicable across the board for any company who's doing that kind of test today, but at least for this particular company, and sorry to add a little bit more contacts. At that time we also have different pricing tiers. We had an enterprise which is talk to sales, but we also have plans in a ranges of, you know, or and then couple of $100 a month right for for for consumers or Sb.If you want to call that? Okay? So when we did the experiment. Now it's it's no shock that we didn't see as many sign ups go through to the complete sign up completion process with the credit card. We saw a lot more. Okay. But the the learning from that was the ones that end up signing up with the credit card information can actually, when we track after sign up usage data like, okay, did actually log in in the first 7 days or 10 days a 30 day trial. Okay? And they do these couple of things. So they actually create a presentation for their learning program that you actually do this other thing on it. Remember, we talked about earlier. You know there's that user path to make it. Aha! Moment! If they did all of this, there was a high conversion to actually paid where they did not say cancel my subscription.
They end up becoming a user the conversion rate for that was very high, because they were not only engage with the product, but they, you know, already, has clinical skin again, because they gave their credit card information. So they were motivated to use the product. And so that's why we saw higher conversion. But we saw less at the top of the phone, if you will, right. And now this simple, for obviously lower friction, a lot more friction. We saw a lot more sign ups, but the conversion rate to paid was a lot lower. I mean. It all makes sense in hindsight, but I've had time, You know. We have a lot of data points, and people are still trying to figure out. You know these different types of ways to acquire customers and users. So those were one of the learning where we said, okay, how can people are at the end of their trial. Okay? Well, okay, Are they actually using the product right? They actually, you know, logging in within this time period. Are they actually taking on step 2 or 3. Now. Okay? Well, then, how do we improve those steps? So I think what happened was we remove the barrier up front, and then we focused on guiding people down that user journey so that they see value and then presenting them with the
with the pay wall to upgrade again. This was like 10 years ago. I think that's what we did 10 or 12 years ago. Yeah. But I just remember that, being one of the experiments that we ran can also to tack on. To that I mentioned. We tested the the difference between a 14 day trial versus a 30 day trial in 70 70. I think we had 7 at 1 point, and then, you know, we have 14. 7 was a little bit too short, because, you know people didn't have time, and also the time period the short time here. What we found was it also affected people signing up, because when we actually, you know, like to talk to a couple of users they felt like. I am interested in your product, but I still have time to really spend and dedicate to try things out Therefore i'm not going to sign up and waste my 7 days now, and so i'm gonna find time later on, when I feel like I have more time. 7 day create to really use it, and most people don't they forget, so they never come back right. So, by the same token, when we tried out a a 30 day trial. That was interesting, because when we start to do that and offer that we start to see usage metrics. People got lazy, and they push off, you know, activity, you logging in and utilizing product until you know reminders, because at that time we had reminders. Hey, your trials topic expiring 3 days or 7 days. Then they get on it and say, oh, yeah. we should do this or this. Just forget it, and There's again wasn't a right or wrong answer. We tried different things. It's, I think the whole timeframe is an artificial limitation that us, as a vendor put upon the user we're almost forcing them to use the product within a time box experience. Now, if the pain point. This is something that I just have been learning throughout my career. If the pain point is immediate and acute enough someone will use the product and figure it out right. They will have that any time. If they don't, then they're not convinced of the pain point, or the fact that you can solve for it, or maybe they have found it to be too difficult. And so those are all different problems that you want to address some of those that's isn't necessarily a product related problem, you know, like the whole pain point that Well, there's a whole area where maybe you need to educate on the pain point before you know someone gets into your product experience.
Tony Yang So there is a lot of different layers to this, and people just think of PLG as the right approach or evm is the right approach or saleslight is the right approach. Those are all different components in your overall. Go to market strategy that you have to think about and figure out. Okay, what's the right mix of different things for our business, but not really for your business or your market.: and then you got to learn and knowledge. And so whether it's plg. Whether it's other, go to market strategies it's always about, especially if you're startup, or even a larger company. You're trying a a new thing. It's about learning and validating and trying to figure out. Okay. does this work. Here's my hypothesis is: what did I learn from that? And constantly improving upon and iterating upon that process to say, okay, this is how we can optimize this type of growth, strategy or this. This is not a gross driving for us. Let's focus on something else.
Jason Tissera | Upmarket: yeah, D: double clicking a little bit again on the trade off between having a lot of people come into the product versus having putting up a paywall and knowing that the people that go through that are higher are more likely to convert when you look back on it. Did you get a lot of value just getting those sign ups coming in and then understanding their usage. Or do you get more value focusing on the people that we're gonna convert more?
Tony Yang: This was a long time ago, so I can't remember all the specifics. I was well ultimately. The company didn't survive, because it was during the recession back in 2,009 ish over exactly, and we couldn't raise all one funding. We were seeing actual monthly active users. Sales metric that we were tracking at that company. We were seeing MAU’s increasing, great sign. And then, you know, key terms and active users not just sign ups you're seeing in may use increasing, and this was mostly in a business context. Sure there were individuals, individual coaches who want to utilize their product, to to offer their coaching coursework or less right
individuals, but it's more. It's. It's in the context of a business situation. Yeah, we had large companies like black and decker We had e harmony. We had. We even had the Buffalo Bills football team, not training their football players, but we had. They were using it to train their stadium workers, you know, every football season. They hire, you know, seasonal workers to manage. The concession stands part of blah blah blah right? So they were using our platform out of time to train learning management system to train how to do certain things.
Tony Yang: alright, what is the right market. And Yes, we had a bunch of free users when we did the experiment of just making it low. Barrier Low friction let people in, and a lot of it didn't go anywhere. Well, according to that, did fuel, our enterprise, which is like, I said, You know we have data pushing to appetite. We were using Mark Head as our marketing automation as well as salesforce. And so we have product usage data, and this kind of tied back to your earlier question about what is the right time At that company we had resources on our engineering team, but still a small sort of where the engineers you know, created the Api to pipe data, and these kind of data points into our marketed with sales, for instance. So it was. It was great. It was beautiful, like our sales Rep. Was able to see: oh, yeah These people actually work at this company, and they just sign up for a trial to use that kind of data point to actually do political, outbound, even though we had : inbound forget in found out about those are all just random terms. To use that data point to go and do some sort of sales motion, right? And so your question on do we find value some because that helps it fuel our sales motions. whether you call it outbound or simply follow up on inbound it doesn't matter what we call it. I think there could have been more we could have done to extract value out of free users. Either free trial or just free forever could have been things like a referral program. you know, like dropbox is famous for stuff like that. If you're a call box in the early days that for free. if you don't want to pay to live by someone else. You you both get like a make sure to, or whatever right. So so that kind of model we did spend, or get to that point where we can figure out the role model there could have been other ways to extract. Now we maybe implement viral loops. Now that we did, which is part of your lessons that you create on our platform on 3 ones, you know. There's stuff that says, you know, powered by our company name and their hyperlink to our website. Yes, that's a very: typical or standard these days, viral loop, if you will feedback, loop or acquisition loop, and so we build that into the product, into the emails that get sent out when people invite others, you know their users. So we did see some of that. So I would say, You know, if you, if a company is looking at offering a free version free forever, you want to see if there's ways that the Us. Company can also utilize that to extract value if they're never. If they're not going to end up becoming a paid subscription or paid user find ways that you can create that fly, you don't like that viral fly or or a referral, so that because guess what? If you're on it for out free forever.
Tony Yang: if there is cost to it. You have to support, you know, like data hosting, or or you know, data database fees. There's a lot of stuff right so different things to consider. But yeah, that's certainly one of the areas that I advise. The companies that are implementing thelg growth with self or a free version consider cost, and how you yes, but also how do you extract more value, so that you could, get more customers through these free ones for sure.
Jason Tissera | Upmarket: you know you have so much experience, and there's so much to you in hearing it first hand that you've done it. You've tried it thats worked, or it hasn't and I want to get really deep with you and ask you like, hey, what's it like? One lesson you can. You can tell a company like: to definitely stay away from or definitely.
Tony Yang: Yeah, I mean, if you're if you're gonna edit this and post, so I answer that question right now. So so one thing that I recommend, especially in the companies at the very early stages Don't: focus on building your Brand Don't focus on spending too much money on paid advertising, because if you don't have the fundamentals, this is not necessarily related to PLG. This is just, you know you the company at the early stage. You gotta make sure that you survive right? And so every company that I talk to the CEO. They all want 2 things, especially if they're an early stage, Even companies that are later stage, where they engage me and say, Can you help us? They all want to do things, can I? We need help with getting more customers and we need help building our brand. Every company wants that. Well, for early stage companies. Don't focus on building a brand and traditional sets where you're hiring a a, you know a. Pr. Agency trying to get placements on tech crunch, or you know, whatever tech or industry pop don't worry about, you know. Running ads, you know, on : even on Youtube or other places display as if you're gonna run ads. Don't go crazy. Make sure you're trying to accomplish your near term goals and a lot of early stage companies, if once they have found product to market fit. It's about getting your initial set of customers focus on customer acquisition if you're going to be running at, and so that automatically excludes things like display ads, because display ads are notoriously low, click through rates. And so just do the map right like if you're gonna spend X amount of dollars on display ads with a little clip rates. And then how many of those actually can burn on your page. At the end of the day the unit economics still work out. And so you're gonna end up wasting money : instead. If you must run as maybe look into paid search, because difference between paid search is that someone is typing into Google or being, you know, you say thing is coming back up right typing into a search query: on a particular topic, or, better yet, solution to what they're looking for. So my advice to a lot of companies I work with that mucker
who are starting to run ads, and it's been what little cash they have as an early station are on customer acquisition for and utilizing ads, I would say, look if you're gonna run as focus on, for example, phrase, match or exact match keywords on paid search with focusing on keywords that are pointing to potential purchase and an example of that could be You know kind of going back to my earlier example of e-learning. Okay, Don't bid on e-learning or e-learning, or you know learning at a broad level, because people would be typing in because they want to learn what is e-learning or what are best practices for creating a learning program that's going to get captured in your research focus on purchase a test such as you know best. E-learning solutions or products. Or you know, a lot of people talk about competitive as well, you know there's pros and cons, but g: a common one can be what's an alternative to insert biggest, you know, 800 pound gorilla in your space, and you want to position yourself as the alternative, whether it's better or all the sheep, or whatever right for your market.: That's a much closer time to a purchase intent or someone. If you drive them to a page to understand, i'll help them Understand? Okay, this is actually a product that can help you do this thing: as opposed to I'm. Learning about me learning or learning management systems that's a different intent behind the query. So don't drive and stuff like that focus on, you know, higher intent type of campaigns.
Tony Yang: So so yeah, so I would say, stay away from those things. Building. A brand is really about telling your unique story that you're market curious about. Just start there writing right content or or record video like this, right to talk about a particular topic that your your audience will care about without ever pitching product without pitching your company. Just start putting content out there that showcases that you know what your market is experiencing, so that they don't think of you, and by extension your your company as an expert. That's how you start billing your grant don't focus on, you know, Like all these random it's just gonna be a waste of time. Take that. There's plenty of places to need to utilize in a not paid way organic social. You know, all these different areas. So that's probably one of the areas that I always advise early stage companies to shine away from Fil to those things focus on.
Jason Tissera | Upmarket: Tony. Thank you so much for all of the insights that you've shared with us really appreciate you coming on and tell, talking to us about your experience. Helping companies build product, led growth motions for their business, as well as you know, connecting that to sales, motions and finding revenue when it's difficult to do it. We really appreciate your time and for everyone that's watching, we hope that you have a chance to visit us next week as we bring another episode of the series online.