Starting on the Product-Led Journey

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    I read a book this summer that has led me to dramatically rethink my approach to building a software company. It started with a LinkedIn post by my friend, Kurt Gilmore. He posted:

    “Wondering what it's like to work at a product led growth (PLG) SaaS scale-up?”

    I had not yet heard the phrase “product-led” and looked it up immediately. Boy, did that kick off an entirely new phase in my adventure to build and grow Marketpath.

    One of the first places I landed was the ProductLed site, a company led by Wes Bush and designed to help others learn and implement the PLG method. I bought his book.

    I’ve never taken as many notes from a book as I did with this one. Several years back I read Growth Hacker Marketing, by Ryan Holiday, which presents similar ideas - using the software you’re selling to help drive its own growth. But Product-Led Growth really opened my eyes because it not only presented growth concepts, but a methodology and approach to achieving it.

    One of the first initiatives I took was to map out all steps in a new user’s journey toward realizing the value of Marketpath CMS. A new user registers, provides a bunch of personal info, creates a website, edits and publishes a page, and then views that change on the preview site. It took nearly 30 steps to get to that first value. Yikes!

    I bought the book for several others in my company and they consumed it with excitement because they knew the impact it could have on us. 

    Product-Led Growth Certification Course

    Wes’ ProductLed group also offers a Product-Led Growth Certificate. This workshop consisted of six virtual interactive sessions, one per week, that walked through the finer details of the Product-Led methodology.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve taken a course like this, not to mention paying for one, but it proved incredibly beneficial for me and will hopefully do the same for Marketpath. The workshop hosted multiple guest speakers with a range of topics, like product pricing metrics, customer research, user onboarding, and more. 

    I gained valuable tools and insight into a number of areas. One perfect example is customer research - something I’ve struggled with over the years. Katelyn Bourgoin of Customer Camp to the rescue. Katelyn walked through her process of interviewing customers (and non-customers) and the light bulb finally went off in my head. Since that session, we’ve conducted numerous custom research interviews which have provided us valuable insight into our product.

    I highly recommend Wes’ certification program to anyone who wants their software to do more of the selling for them.

    Marketpath CMS Changes

    Since finishing the course, I’ve spent the last six months kicking off my product-led journey by planning changes of both our product and our company as a whole. After all, successful product-led growth extends into all cracks and crevices of an organization.

    I won’t get into all the changes we’re making here because I am planning several follow-up blog posts related to our product-led successes and failures. I recommend you subscribe to our blog feed, using the subscribe form on the left, to get those dropped to your inbox.

    The bottom line is that a change is coming - a change in how users experience our software, how we operate our company, and how we measure success.

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    About the Author

    Matt Zentz

    Matt Zentz launched Marketpath from a small Broad Ripple bungalow in February 2001 with a focus on custom web application development. He built the first, basic version of a hosted CMS called Webtools and shortly afterward expanded his team and created the first version of Marketpath CMS.

    Matt has worked for a national consulting firm, taught computer programming to high school juniors and seniors , and led the information technology arm of the auxiliary business units at Indiana University.

    Matt graduated from Indiana University in 1999 with a B.S. in Computer Science and has built custom web applications since 1995. Matt is husband to an amazing & supportive wife, has three beautiful children, supreme master to Archimedes (Archie) the dog, and mostly tolerant victim of 2 flying rats (cockateils).

    He coaches various kid sports, enjoys furniture and home renovation projects, and plays guitar and piano. Matt is also active with his church as a parishioner, technical advisor and board member on the festival committee.

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