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The Everyman Guide to PLG: Get Started with 8 Free Product Led Growth Books

Product-led — everybody’s doin’ it these days. But generally, it’s billed as a SaaS-only kind of deal. 

Software being the only kind of product that can be so rapidly built, implemented, and scaled. The only kind of product where starting for free (a common product-led growth strategy) makes sense. 

…OK, well, we can’t really refute that. But we’d like to add on top of it.

Because product-led growth companies are customer-led growth companies. And every growing company has customers. 

So whether you’re building an app, a platform, a service, or some other product, there’s likely room to adopt and adapt the lessons of product-led growth. These are the books to help you do it.

get the product-led growth ebook collection for free →
Got burning questions about other growth strategies? Visit the nonfik library to see all of our free ebooks.

Wait, wait – What is PLG exactly? Setting Your Product Growth on Autopilot

Product-led growth depends on the product itself driving customer acquisition (and thus, company growth).

You deliver a product that:

  • Is easy to use — relatively speaking; complexity varies by function and industry, so you really just need to undercut the expectation
  • Someone can get started with in minutes — ease of use doesn’t pay off if installation takes 9 painful hours
  • Almost immediately makes its value felt — delight or convenience needs to await every first-time user
  • Is innately shareable or viral — it’s either built into the function of the product or you create a compelling reason someone would pass it on of their own volition

A product that sells itself (through easy product adoption)

Most of the time, someone needs to sell you on a purchase.

Someone needs to make you want to go out of your way. And you ultimately agree because there’s some benefit in it for you. Maybe in the immediate future, maybe in the longer term, but the offer appeals and you can see potential value.

A product led growth approach lowers that barrier to entry.

Instead of needing to overcome mental hurdles, adopting the product should be the easiest course of action. 

This is why product-led companies have no-cost options — a freemium model or trial period. Customers can give the product a try themselves or start using it right away with a friend or colleague. 

As long as a need exists, and since there’s no fee, the decision should be easy. You’ll have an easier time converting an existing happy user into a paying customer as well.

Customers that sell your product (by driving user acquisition)

When we say customers sell the product, we don’t mean in a pyramid scheme way — not even in a customer advocacy way. They “sell” your product (or at least increase awareness and usage) simply by using it as intended. 

Think back to your last Zoom meeting. How did you get there?

It’s likely your meeting partner sent an invite link. You clicked through, launched the video chat, and went on your merry way. 

They are a Zoom user and they’ve now made you a de facto Zoom user. 

Next time you need to run your own video call, you’re already familiar with the process of launching Zoom and using their interface. Maybe you’ve set up an account and downloaded the desktop client, just to make all those other people’s Zoom meetings more tolerable.

So now you’re the dedicated Zoom user. And off you go to indoctrinate the next mark with your wordless yet incredibly persuasive endorsement.

PLG
PLG ebooks

the best product-led growth books you can read for free

To understand the deeper nuances, objectives, and techniques of product-led growth, nothing beats a deep dive into recommended reading.

We’ve pulled together a list of the best PLG books to get you started. These are great reading for the true beginner or anyone looking to go beyond the basics.

Now, no product-led growth book list would be complete without at least mentioning Wes Bush’s Product-Led Growth: Building a Product that Sells Itself. Bush literally wrote the book on PLG. If you’re looking for a hard copy of something for your office bookshelf, definitely pick this one up.

But if you’re simply looking to learn, there are plenty of free alternatives ready and waiting. Product-led growth eBooks that are as thorough, as well-researched, and when taken together, might offer up more angles and options than a single playbook can.

So here are nonfik’s top 8 product-led growth guides – PLG PDFs for whether you’re in the dark or doing the research to implement a product-led motion at your own company.

Becoming Product Led by Pendo

Developing a product-led growth strategy starts by positioning your product experience as each team’s guiding star, and this PLG ebook is a how-to guide. Your product-led sales will hinge on showing and not telling — whether through demos or free trials — and product-led growth marketing begins with virality within the product itself. Customer success takes on a new importance working on the frontline of customer interaction. They have the best ability to increase retention, and collect the feedback and user sentiment that drives new product releases.

  • The rise of the product-led company, and what makes a modern company product led
  • The benefits of a product led motion
  • How to bring your company around to PLG and prepare your teams for the shift
see the ebook listing
Becoming Product Led by Pendo cover

A Guide to Pragmatic Product-Led Growth for B2B SaaS Companies by Elsewhere Partners

Product-led growth advocates the importance of focusing on the end user, emphasizing that the product should be designed around making a user’s day-to-day better. The age of executives making solo software buying decisions for their teams is over. Pragmatic product-led growth focuses on both the product experience and on adding value across the organization, from individual product users all the way up to the C-Suite.

  • Showcasing time and money saved with your product is the basebone of a product-led approach – plus, shortened sales cycles and lower customer acquisition costs
  • Deliver value straight out of the gate with free(mium) options – capture  these customers through remarketing campaigns, or offer free trials with fast setup and onboarding, or drive awareness and trust with entirely free tools aimed at your ideal customer base
  • Shareability and integration capabilities are a must toward that end of ease and quickness of use – see Spotify’s year-end Spotify Wrapped music roundups
  • Adopting a PLG mindset and redesigning your organization around product-led growth strategies and functions – for product teams, engineers, marketing, and sales
  • Constant experimentation is a feature, not a bug
focus on your user
A Guide to Pragmatic Product-Led Growth for B2B SaaS Companies by Elsewhere Partners cover

Product-Led Growth Strategies from Winning Consumer Brands by MoEngage

From Amazon to Netix to Tesla, major brands around the world are adopting product-led growth strategies for their business. The success stories of these brands prove that a good product does not need to be sold — it can sell itself.  It just takes product managers and growth marketers who possess the combined expertise of technical know-how, marketing knowledge and awareness of the market landscape.

As Keith Rabois of Founder’s Fund said, “Building a successful product and company is like producing a movie. You have a script and a vision first, followed by filming. Then, you sell tickets.”

What should your company’s product-led growth look like? What powers it? What do you need to be looking at closely? This will be a process of trial and error when you set out, and also depends upon what resources and budget you have available. Incorporate this into your roadmap and set customer and product KPIs accordingly. 

You might want to keep these goals in mind:

  • Understanding your global markets, how to code switch when necessary, and borrowing B2C insights for B2B products
  • Learning to handle collaboration between your product and marketing teams in order to fuel growth – by reducing the number of decisions to be made every day, keeping decision-making transparent and simple
  • Finding key points where teams can align, collaborate productively, and friction can be reduced between organizational functions
  • Unite your revenue/growth teams under a single umbrella goal and set team expectations to cut down on fragmented objectives or a misplaced sense of ownership
  • Harness first impression power and create a user journey with steps that incorporate awareness, activation, retention, and resurrection indicators
  • Understand the user outcomes your product delivers and the effect they exert on your customers. Where uniformity meets a seamless, always-feels-native experience is where you want to be
learn PLG secrets from the best
Product-Led Growth Strategies from Winning Consumer Brands by MoEngage cover

A Behind the Scene View of Hubspot’s Product-Led Onboarding by Product Led Hub

What does onboarding look like when it isn’t product-led? In Hubspot’s case, customers were paired with an “implementation specialist” team member, who walked them through the software with a third-party tool. 

It worked because Hubspot wasn’t primarily product-driven at the time. Once they made their shift from marketing platform to customer relationship management, they saw a need for the whole thing to be better integrated and work more smoothly.

So what are the PLO basics and best practices to know?

  • Educate, activate, and assess user behavior. Identify the user segments you need to target and tailor to
  • Identify and loosen bottlenecked areas of onboarding, explicitly lay out what success looks like for each user type, and ultimately design a process that helps them get there
  • It isn’t a tech play alone, either. Customer success teams can play a big role alongside self-serve onboarding — if you see a free user who is liable to convert to a paying customer, deploy a CS team member to nurture that relationship
get your plg onboarding on-point
A Behind the Scene View of Hubspot’s Product-Led Onboarding by Product Led Hub cover

Fuel the Acquisition of PQLs by Victor Eduoh

The future of lead gen is in product-qualified leads. Because PQLs lead to more sales calls and more closes – converting at 5 or 6 times the rate of MQLs. 

In this day and age, keeping tabs on leads that are only marketing-qualified is basically tracking a vanity metric. Your product-qualified leads, on the other hand, are already further along the funnel. That’s what qualifies them at all – they’ve experienced initial product value and show some form of buying intent. 

OK, we’ve defined a PQL. Now what? It’s time to:

  • Pave the way to PQLs, making iit easier for your customers to self-serve and see value firsthand
  • Determine the single point of truth to around which to align your customer-facing teams
  • Generate PQLs through a specific set of B2B marketing tactics, plus the importance of product-led storytelling
see the ebook listing
Fuel the Acquisition of PQLs by Victor Eduoh cover

Product Qualified Leads: the What, the Why, the How by Sherlock

Product-qualified leads let your product do the talking—not you. But what happens when it is your turn to step in? What comes after acquisition?

Learn how to implement a PQL process from scratch with this free ebook from Sherlock Score. Harness the power of engagement metrics and turn your SaaS business into a successful, smooth-talking, lead-converting machine.

  • Another look at the evolution of qualified leads: from marketing-qualified leads to sales-qualified to product-qualified
  • Moving your business to a product-qualified lead model — using, account-based marketing and sales, defining activation and engagement criteria, then tracking those metrics over time
  • Weighing product complexity against the size of the sales opportunity
  • What your activation and engagement criteria should look like based on how complex of a product you have
see the ebook listing
Product Qualified Leads: the What, the Why, the How by Sherlock cover

Product-Led Sales Playbook by Pocus

The future of PLG is product-led sales — and this is the PLS eBook to bring you into that future.

It’s the natural evolution after years of debating the merits and execution of product-led vs. sales-led — of course you want to leverage the best of both. Pocus’ playbook outlines the entire spectrum of moving between product-led and sales-led, and how to better manage your PQL situation in sales-led PLG. What’s included?

  • Defining the new world of product-led sales, including the PLG tech stack you’ll want at your disposal
  • Product-led user journeys plus adding sales on top of self-serve onboarding
  • Intro to PQLs, lead segmentation, and usage-based pricing
  • Making the switch from sales-led company to a product-led sales
  • The importance of adding a human touch to a self-served product journey – and avoiding unnecessary friction
  • Building a powerful sales-product relationship at your product-led company
see the ebook listing
Product-Led Sales Playbook by Pocus cover

Build: the Product-Led Growth Edition by OpenView

Finally, BUILD is your definitive product-led growth book.

Clocking in at over 100 pages and packed with high-level insights from product-led industry leaders, it’s a dense read but perfect to get you entirely up to speed on PLG.

There’s no shortage of product-led growth resources for SaaS companies, but few explain what product-led growth is better than Openview. This PDF is designed to help you understand PLG through all stages of growth — from user acquisition to conversion and expansion.

Plus, take a closer look at how product led growth companies(like Dropbox and Slack, Zendesk and ZipRecruiter) function, as they share their successful growth strategies in their own words:

  • Explore acquisition, featuring Lucidchart on their bootstrap growth, Fullstory with sales lessons, Klaviyo’s growth through partnerships approach, and Drift on ungated marketing assets
  • Figure out conversion — how to land a sale with an originally reluctant prospect, scaling a good customer experience, and why you should create a minimum sellable product, not minimum viable product
  • Enable customer success, learning from Intercom on product education, Hubspot’s take on PQL models, and Typeform’s method of scaling purely through customer success
  • And your secret PLG superpower: diverse hiring and storytelling, with Zendesk, DataDog, and Slack
see the ebook listing
Build: the Product-Led Growth Edition by OpenView cover

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