From Product-Led Growth to Community-Led Growth

Product-Led Growth has been a hot topic for years now. But what do you know about Community-Led Growth?
What you’re going to learn:
  • Product-led growth: definition and overview
  • Community-led growth: definition and overview
  • Community Led vs. Product Led
With the evolution of online and offline communities, big brands are shifting from product led marketing to community based marketing. Earlier, most brands focused on building high-quality products that cater to customers' needs. 
But now, as businesses have started understanding the importance of building communities, they have started adopting the concept. Many businesses have started building and nurturing their communities so that the members stay with them for longer. Businesses that understand the importance of community building have chosen community-led growth as a part of their growth strategy.

Product-led growth: definition and overview

Product led growth is a go-to-market strategy that works well for user-centric businesses. In the product-led approach customers of a business find, adopt and use their product due to its influence in the market. A product-led strategy focuses on the product, features, performance, longevity, and user experience that does most of the selling. It puts the product at the front and center of all the go-to marketing efforts. 

Product led growth strategy

Businesses that work on a product led growth strategy put their product at the front and center of their marketing campaigns. The sales and marketing teams in product led growth companies work in a way that allows the product to take the lead. As a result, all the business strategies, like acquisition, expansion, retention, and conversion, are product-driven. 
The product led growth strategy creates a company-wide alignment across engineering, CS, design, marketing, and sales departments. Although all these teams work differently, in product-driven businesses, they work together towards a common goal: user experience. 
The production and design team works to create a product that offers a great user experience. Then, the marketing and sales team presents the product in the best ways to the customer. For example, some companies offer a freemium product that becomes a marketing tool to attract new customers without spending money on advertising campaigns. 

Product-led growth companies

What do product led growth companies look like? Here are examples of product-led companies to help you better understand their growth strategy.

Datadog

Datadog is a monitoring platform that has scaled rapidly, launched some new product lines, and continues to grow and excel as a public company in the present. Datadog is a great example of a product-led company scaled to an enterprise. Here is what they did by following a product led growth strategy.
  • They solved a pain point among developers.
  • They delivered value to their customers without resistance.
  • They grew quickly inside an account with a product-centric approach. 
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Airtable

Airtable was founded in 2012, and it’s worth is more than $ 1 billion. Hybrid spreadsheet databases are now found in offices around the world. But at first, many Airtable customers were individuals who were looking for better ways to manage personal projects - all things ranging from wedding plans to wine collections.
The track was intentional: Airtable is built as a self-service product that can be adopted from the bottom up. 

Survey Monkey

Survey Monkey is a leader in online surveys that worked on a product-led growth model. For example, suppose you are a savvy business owner and want to know how customers feel about the latest feature you recently released. A SurveyMonkey survey is the best way to know about customers’ feedback. Almost all of your customers will click on the link you send them to take the survey that says “Powered by SurveyMonkey” This line exposes the brand to your customers. 
Survey Monkey doesn’t have a physical product; online surveys are its products and grow by organizing surveys for various businesses.  

Product-led growth: definition and overview

Community-led growth is an approach to marketing that takes advantage of community building to increase brand awareness and drive more traffic for the business. Community-led growth is the strategy that allows brands to deliver value beyond their product or service to encourage interactions between the brand and its customers.
It is an effective strategy to increase the awareness of your brand and drive more traffic. This is achieved through sharing your expertise, providing educational resources, conducting Q&A sessions, and building relationships by developing trust, advocacy, and loyalty.

Community-based marketing

Every brand has a community as there are people who hold a passion for what a brand does and would love to share it with the world. Placing these people in the front and center empowers them to share that passion with more people around them and activates their marketing power that leads to community led growth. 
Brands focussed on community led growth allow their community to dictate the evolution of their product. They try to make a product so good that they won't need to convince people to buy it through advertisements or other sales techniques. Moreover, you let your community members and existing customers drive your product development. 
Community based marketing aims to offer the brand’s audience a common platform for interaction. Communication lets people interact with the business and with other brand followers. Giving customers the chance to form sincere, human connections makes them feel more valued. 

Community led companies

Let us explore some brands that have built strong relationships with their audience through community building and management. 

Hubspot

It runs an extensive academy to offer certifications in various areas of digital marketing and encourages its users to try their CRM. In addition, Hubspot has a dedicated community page that offers user groups that cater to different topics and industries.  

Notion

Notion noticed that many users created online communities on various social media platforms. They were doing so to meet and discuss important things about Notion. Notion capitalized on the trends these groups were discussing and developed its strategies around them. 
Notion allows its users and community members to dictate how it should operate in its communities. Their team works closely with the community members to maintain a sense of belonging and community engagement.

Calendly

Calendly is a platform for meeting scheduling that enables people from different organizations to identify mutually convenient times to meet.
Calendly is a real viral product. Every time a user sends an invitation using the app, they also promote the brand and begin a viral cycle. With almost no entry barriers, Calendly has solved a universal problem, which is why it gets accepted by invitees quickly. 
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Community Led vs. Product Led

For the largest tech companies—think of market leaders like IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle—sales and marketing teams were the primary forces behind the growth for many years. So even if you had a better product, you were unlikely to succeed if you lacked the funds to invest in these areas.
However, the last decade has seen an explosion in product led growth (PLG). SaaS companies know that if they create products that users like, they can compete with established brands at low costs. User-friendly UI, free trials, useful customer success, supporting teams, and content marketing are the key to this growth. Calendly, Slack, and Dropbox are good examples of products that benefit from the growth strategy led by the product.
Community-led growth is the next step for product led companies. That does not replace the growth of product-driven growth. But, conversely, it was built on the growth of the product led by utilizing the existing customer strength and the natural desires we all have for the community. Notion and Product Hunt are good examples of companies that strengthen growth with community-led strategies.
Community led growth strategy not only helps the brands grow but also the members. Community members get a lot of benefits like gifts, free trials, loyalty points, membership discounts, etc. While product-led growth was beneficial only for businesses, community-led growth works for brands and consumers and helps create long-lasting relationships between them. 
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