B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast
B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast

Episode 1746 · 4 months ago

A New Era for PLG, with Kyle Poyar

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode, Benji talks to Kyle Poyar, Operating Partner at OpenView.

Discussed in this episode:

  1. Principles for the Age of Connected Work
  2. PLG and community strategies
  3. Delivering instant product value

Conversations from the front lines of marketing. This is B two B growth. Today I am joined by Kyle Poyer. He is the operating partner at open view. Kyle, welcome into B two be growth. Thanks for having me. Glad to have you here. We're gonna jump in, but, Kyle, give me a thirty second kind of twitter length bio of what it means to be operating partner at open view. Keep it short. Well, first off, open view invest in expansion stage software companies and then on the operating side, we work closely with those companies to help them accelerate revenue growth and hopefully dominate their market. And that could be, you know, just about anything from top of funnel acquisition to product like growth to pricing and packaging. Fantastic. Okay. So that, I think, sets the scene pretty well for where we actually ago, because recently, you know, you had your hand in a piece that open view released called a new era for P L G, introducing the age of connected work. Give me, I mean that's why I reached out. So I want to chat all about that today. Give me the origins of that piece and why you want to do a deep dive here on connected work. Well, I guess just even zooming out to open view, coined the term product like growth back in uh, since then it's become almost the household term in software. But we were realizing that the ways that the best companies were applying P L G have just really changed. And as everyone starts to DABBLE IN P L G concepts like free trial or fremium product, you know, just offering that isn't enough to differentiate. You actually have to go further. And at the same time, you know, we as users of software, we've kind of changed the way we've interacted with the software. There were chocks. Overnight from covid right, software went from being optional to us like a core part of the way we do business and...

...the way we see our roles. And that actually means that our products have to play different roles and how they reach uosers and how they you know, how they grow. And so we've just seen enough changes in the market to say we're in this new era for product like growth and we call it the age of connected work. And the rationale there is that. I guess the easiest way to explain it would be thinking about like how you how you have a meeting today. So in the past a meeting might have been let's like email back and forth to find a time. Maybe we'll meet up in person, I'll take notes and a notebook. Maybe if I'm, you know, following my salesforce hygiene best practice, and update salesforce later and add the notes and and and send a cinemas follow up note. Well, now it's a completely digital software enabled experience. So the meeting just happens the accountly, you know, both people find time that works for for one another. Zoom invite gets sent out to both parties, being an API call, people hop on and have a digital meeting, usually on zoom or teams, and then that call us transcribed and uploaded into Gong, chorus, you name it. If you want to send a follow up note, that might be set through an automated email campaign and maybe you you use a grammarlaf type service to h to make sure that it's it sounds as great as you wanted to sound, and then, as the meeting happens, is all of that is updated in salesforce automatically. So we're in this connected environment these days where not only were using software, but software is working with other software, behind the scenes to automate that entire jury collect data and software is almost like you can think of it as a core utility these days, like if any of our services goes out, like we're left totally in the dark. And Uh, it's a really interesting, amazing time were software companies, but it's just, you know,...

...a fundamentally different era for what it looks like to sell software products or build software products for this its current user. Yes, six years is a long time of development and UH, the old way of doing things sounds a bit like a nightmare at this point. Imagine I'm not being able to have set up even this call without just like our calendars being sinked and oh, that time works like. I never want to go back there. I never want to go back to that email sequence. So I think you did a great job laying out a number of those sort of subtle shifts. Now let's let's dive into this piece. And obviously, for B two B growth, we're talking to marketers in the B two B space specifically. So you basically went through and you said here's eleven P L G principles for the age of connected work, and what I thought we would do is just take maybe four that are most relevant to our marketing audience. So the four we're gonna hit on is in the piece it ends up being one, two, six and seven, but for us it's one, two, three, four. Build your end user, build to be discovered, build community as competitive advantage and deliver instant product value. Tell me a bit of how you came to these, the consensus around these eleven principles, before we dive into the four. Like, were you going out and just surveying the software market? Were you talking to specific companies? What bubbled these eleven to the surface? Yeah, it was multiple process, but really the key driver, honestly, was looking at you know, we normally think about what does it take to you know, grow quickly in terms of like hey, how fast are the public companies growing? How how great are they're retaining customers? Okay, that's a benchmark for, you know, what I want to do for my business. And we kind of reverse engineered the process and we said, how are companies becoming outliers? How are companies growing faster than others, growing more efficiently and just building these really unique businesses? And we said what are the characteristics that these companies? How a common you know, other companies have been doing some of but...

...these companies are doing consistently and becomes the framework for really the new operating manual for building a software company in the and so that was really by studying those companies that are the outliers, the best of the best. That helps. That was the number one way that we we flagged. What are these cont principles? Fantastic. Okay, so this first one here build for the end user. What was the way of thinking, maybe, you know, a few years back, and then compare contrast that to what this new development is and the focus on the end user for me. Well, you know, we used to always focus, especially you know there's marketers listening here right and sales folks. We used to focus exclusively on that executive buyer, the one that's going to write the check, is going to buy our product. The website needs to be oriented to that person. We need to prioritize these folks and, you know, to become M Q ls and eventually s qls, that individual users who are experiencing the product day to day are kind of an afterthought. That's where it came from, and now these users are really just used to you know, really great experiences in their consumer lives. They're used to software being just a fundamental part of their job and they're going out and they're trying products to solve everyday problems or, you know, everyday workflows that they have. They're sharing the products that they love with their teams and then they're going to their boss and saying, Hey, we're using this, we're seeing value less. Buy It as a company. Uh. And so all of a sudden we went from the buyers having all the power to now the users have the power and this changes how you actually have to build products, market your products and sell products, and in a big way. To think about it's like what is the user level pain that you're solving for, and that is very different from the buyer pain. So, like in sales tech,...

...buyers might care about, hey, how do I have visibility into my team's pipeline? The sales rep cares about like I hate that back go forth at scheduling meetings, and so that sales rep starts to use products like clently, which is an open view portfolio company, or they use products like dually as a note taking APP and you have to really understand that the user and build with their pain point in mind, with the idea that as users start to adopt more of the products share it with others, you eventually get the permission to go solve for that buyer pain and have that that executive buy our conversation. But that happens later on in the journey. Yeah, I love how you summed it up in the article. To one line. You said users are discovering products, sharing them with their colleagues and then telling their bosses what to buy. And I think of even just my own software experiences and I think a company that crushes at this is like a canva where they could hit just a content creator, a social media marketing manager and that change their life with a free version, and that's gonna just build that software then into that team in such an integral way that eventually they're going to go and they're gonna pay the price to bring that that type of software in and and they'll go to their boss and talk about it's a play on word of mouth advertising, word of Mouth Marketing. That, uh, ultimately, especially in a buying committee decision building for the end users, very very helpful, but it is a longer play. On that note, on one thing, just to add one, because I think it's like a fascinating story and the company has done crazy well. Right, can but it actually is like hated, I think in some cases, or historically was hated by that executive. Right, if you'RE A CMO and you've made everything on brand, you have designers who are building decks, who are building your marketing collateral, the last thing you want is some road member of the team, some sales wrapp downloading Canada and...

...starting to create their own materials and sharing those prospects. They start doing it, and that is exactly what happens. Is Canada kind of democratizes the design process and so if Canada was trying to build with an executive focus, they would have never built the product that they have in the first place. But it turns out that, yeah, you're right, like eventually, if you have a bunch of people inside of a large company that are adopting Canada, that head of marketing is now probably going to say, Hey, let's actually bring this in house, we'll start to bring our own templates in will instead of like fighting the Canada. You know users in our organization, we're now going to work with them and empower them and so the users actually ladder up to that executive pain. It's just fascinating to think about. Like Canada would never exist if they were only targeting the CMO. Absolutely any other key examples that you want to highlight that you think do this really well? Well, you know, I think just about any L G product is going to do this. But another product that I personally love as a user is Zapp here. UH, ZAP here is a platform for integrating other applications, which has has sortically been something that's like done by technical folks. Like they're going in reaching out to I T and they're looking for like an integration platform as a service, right, but it turns out a lot of like like everyday folks have frustrations because their tools don't talk to each other. And my frustration was I had contacts that were coming in through type form and I wanted to get those hubspots so we could email them, and that was like proving to be much more frustrating than it should have been. So just like googled how to connect type form contact hub spot and Zapp had an amazing landing page around it that explains how to do it and said you could just try it out for free. So all of a sudden I was using Zapp here finding like hey, this just works super well and then coming up with tons of other ways of using the product. And just to me that that's such a powerful example...

...because I almost like felt like I was becoming a software developer, where it's like I'm doing the thing that I thought you only could do if you had special I t skills. But you know, by low code and no code technologies and and a Pi based dueling, everyone can become a developer, which is, you know, super powerful and, uh and motivating. M Well, the second one we want to highlight here is build to be discovered, and the line that stood out to me as you guys broke this down, was now products are bought, not sold, and they're discovered, not presented. Walk me through this shift to build to be discovered now. Well, I think Zapp here is a great, great example, again just continuing to pull on that thread. So if you're head of marketing, is that here, and you were building a traditional B Two b software company, you would say, all right, who were the executives? Who where the whether Air Forsonas? What's my ideal customer profile. We're going to write a lot of content. They de gated white papers after this audience. We're going to target them in our paid ads. WE'RE gonna go to trade shows and events where their common we're gonna do webinars like we're gonna mail our demand Gen strategies. But that's not how you reach the users. The users actually have a pain point and they go to Google where they go to their chosen communities, folks who they trust, and they just look for an everyday solution to their everyday problem. And I think that's the genius is APP here is they built out landing pages for every APP. They support every APP to APP integration and then every specific workflow that users are trying to do and they've even, I think they are able to use data on what are the most successful use cases and then really double down on those in the products. But they're found not in a hyper specific, targeted way but through hundreds of hundreds of potential searches that...

...folks have that are very high intent searches. They're not people searching for an integration platform as a service. There are people just searching for a solution to an everyday problem and I think you know, there's so many great examples of p LG marketing that kind of takes this principle and applies it. One great just sort of tactical thing is how to content, like teaching people how to solve the problem that brings them to your product and you can even dog food your product in the in the process, like how to do Seo Research. That's a great topic for not only a content feeds but to show showcase your products. If if you have an SEO research tool or you know you can. If your air cable, which is a maker of workflow experiences, are kind of a no code APP creator, you know, you could use their table for just about anything, and so they have a library of templates that you know, probably they've made the day the community is made, and those templates are, you know, different solutions that folks have found for things that they couldn't do in other tools. And so as new users are saying, Hey, I have a problem with X uh, they're able to search for that, find it and then realize how they can use their tables to get it done. Hey, everyone, emily brady with sweet fish here. If you've been listening to B two B growth for a while. You know, we are big proponents of putting out original, organic content on Linkedin, but one thing that has always been a struggle for a team like ours is easily tracking the reach of that linkedin content. That is why we are really excited about shield analytics. Since our team started using shield, we've been able to easily track the reach and performance of our linkedin content without having to manually log it ourselves. It automatically creates reports and generates dashboards that are incredibly useful to determining things like what content has been performing the best, what days of the week we're getting the most engagement and our average views. proposed. Shield has been a game changer for our entire team's productivity and performance on Linkedin. I highly suggest checking out this tool. If you're publishing content on Linkedin for yourself...

...or your company. You can get a ten day free trial at shield APP DOT AI, or you can get a discount with our Promo Code B two B growth. Again, that shield APP DOT AI and the Promo Code is b. The numbers to be growth. All one word for discount. All right, let's get back to the show, and those templates are, you know, different solutions that folks have found for things that they couldn't do in other tools. And so as new users are saying, Hey, I have a problem with X uh, they're able to search for that, find it and then realize how they can use their table to get it done. The first really feels the second in my mind, because the more you're building for that end user, the more you're realizing that how they search for tools, and it creates like it fuels this build to be discovered piece, and I think there's something to be said about being when someone googles some not even knowing what they're going to find product wise, and you're that solution, you're that how to. I mean that is exactly what marketers want to be, right. That's where you want to be as a marketer. So I think again, you get to build for the end user piece right, and the building discover it flows right from that. Yeah, I totally agree, and you know, I've talked a lot about like seo and Google. Other things to think about, you know, from a marketing perspective, like marketplaces and partnerships can come into play here. So if you're building a tool for shopify users, right, like shopify merchants. You'RE gonna want to have a really great presence on the shopify APP store, because that's where your audience is hanging out, that's where they're searching for tools. You need to make sure that you have the ratings, the reviews, you have really great content on that APP store listing. And if you're potentially viral product, then folks who are using your product might expose it to other people, which gives them the idea of how they can use it in the first place, and so you might want to pay a lot of attention to that viral loop. And how do you...

...kind of educate? How do you encourage your existing customers to show your product to other people or collaborate with them, and then how do you build experiences to get those people who are exposed to the product to sign up on their own? It flows actually pretty well into this idea of community, which is where we want to go next, building community as a competitive advantage. There's a lot of talk on this podcast, Kyle, about community building, and so this is one that, if I mean you can't go a couple of scrolls deep on linkedin without seeing a post on community. So we're all inundated with this conversation, but this is a pivot of thinking of users as the brand right like you may still have thought leadership content, but this is using community as again, we said word of mouth play earlier, but this is another way of doing that. I'm not sure, but you know the way we work with SAS companies, we see a leaning into community and content. You actually outline to think, what like five community strategies. What are you seeing when it comes to community specifically? Well, I think it's it is important to kind of reinforce the point where, if you're building for the user and you build a product that usually fall in love with, they can customize easily on their own, they can connect with other products that they like, all of a sudden the users essentially building something that they're going to want to bring from job to job, from company to company, they're going to be wanting to share with their team and they're gonna talk up the products that they love because they feel such a strong connection to the brand as a user and, you know, essentially as a developer of it. So I think a lot of this is when you have all of that user love and really great goodwill, you could either say hey, look, this is great, I'm glad this is happening, but I'm going to just focus on traditional brand building and marketing bunches. or You could say, Hey, let's let's really help...

...and enable this community and find ways to foster the community, to connect with others, share their experiences, provide a platform for these people, to really elevate them and let's let them sort of build the brand on our behalfs and we'll support them. And that's that's the mentality that more and more P L G companies have been having, and so I think a lot of and a lot of it too, you know from from the marketing perspective in this on this podcast, is that if you look at anywhere on Linkedin or elsewhere these days, like, you'll notice that people are responding to people. They're not responding to brands. They look to. This is the rise of like influencers and personal brands. But I think people trust other folks, and so the more you can be affiliated with these power users who love your product and let them speak on your behalf, the more trusted you're gonna be and the more excited folks are gonna be a trying out your product. In terms of specific ways that folks will community. I mean the default, right, is so let's create a slack community, right, let's fate a slack channel for people who are using our product to go talk to each other, or let's create a forum. That is one approach that I tend to find that a community needs to be much more thoughtful and purposeful than that, and that and slack or or forums might be part of a community strategy, but they aren't the community in and of itself. And so what I think about is like, what are the needs of your users? What are they looking to do, and how can you support them around their objectives? And one of the companies I I love UH is web flow. So web flow started out as a product for really freelance web designers and developers, and these are folks that don't necessarily have colleagues, that they're working on their own, but they really want to just connect with people that are working on the same things they want. They're really eager to help each other learn and they want to learn from one another. And so web flow actually started their commune to the kind of a...

...last minute edition as part of the product launch, and now it is a huge driver of growth for the business and they have really, you know, starting out forums for people to interact with each other, but I think more importantly, they have a showcase product where people can show off really the great creations that they've built in web flow and then other folks can get inspired by those creations maybe even repurpose or leverage some of the pieces of that for their own work to accelerate their own work. And this is a great way for freelancers to get noticed and find more business to take on and just gets them to be able to have great conversations with people that they respect and they want to learn from. And so this is so win win because it helps the members of the community, their their users, achieve their own goals. It brings in content generated by the community, which is great user generated content for SEO purposes to be discoverable right and then also it's something that web flow can really benefit from over the long term by really building a community built brand as opposed to a tightly controlled sort of marketing. Lad Brand Yep. I love the showcase or gallery model for software companies. I know Coda does a really good job as well on the gallery side of things, featuring ways that people are using Coda and then also, like anyone can post how they're using it on there as well, so it's like featured and actual users posting, and you that that mix is always nice as well, because you can feature specific things you want people to check out as far as new features and that sort of thing, and you can do you can do brand connects right like Oh, here's how this company is using our product, and you're both building awareness for your brand and that that always looks good, but also having people that are just chiming and going hey, look, I built this. That's going to create community organically in a way that, especially if like CODA's galleries just...

...right on their website, an easy way for people to see the endless options of ways to use your software. So I think this one people think of community and maybe, depending on where you've worked or what kind of community you've seen before, I put community and air quotes there. There's a development in what it means. That is crucial and important to realize that it's not just a slack channel, as you mentioned. Absolutely absolutely and even I mean I think it's ideal to build these communities first party. But what's been fascinating to watch is over the past kind of a couple of years has been a huge push to even acquire independent communities that you could look at Pendo and mind the product hubspot and the Hustle Stripe and indie hackers outreach and sales hacker zapp beer and maker pad and the software companies have woken up to just how valuable these communities are. And, you know, community these have an audience that's highly engaged but have a really hard time monetizing them. Software companies are really great at monetizing products but have a hard time attracting and engaging an audience, and so it's really win win to collaborate well to bring this episode home. We got one more that we want to cover here, and that is to deliver instant product value, and I'll just let you take this one away. What's the development here? Well, we used to think about, you know, quick time to value is do something measured in like weeks or months, like an easy to deploy product was just one that didn't require them that much, like services or onboarding effort. But now people's expectations have changed and I think this is often driven by our consumer experiences. We expect something to just like work out of the box and work self service. If we we want to be able to sign up, ideally just using existing signing credentials right with like Google, get hub, slack, whatever, and then have click through terms and conditions. We you we run into any issues. We want to be...

...able to search community threads or helped usk articles to just get answers, but we just want to like get in and do it ourselves. We're more comfortable with that and we expect that products should be able to work that way. And you know, people ask like how, what does instant product value mean, like how fast is instant? and to me it's always like incident is relative to the expectations of your customer and and what your competitors are doing. And so if your product that requires having multiple sales conversations and maybe even like purchasing the product before you can experience it and spending several weeks to do an implementation, imagine what would happen if a user could just get started with a competitive product, set it up themselves, do that for free. They're all of a sudden going to have deployed a product before they might have even talked to your sales reap, and so you've lost a deal without even, you know, having a chance to compete, because you haven't been able to deliver on this principle of speed. And so I just think that more and more companies are realizing that this is becoming table stakes in order to attract the kinds of customers that folks want and just aligned with the other principles. Right. So, if you're building a product that is built for this user as opposed to just the executive buyer, that user discovers it, you know, maybe it's recommended by their community or maybe they see a community gallery and they see, oh my God, this is a really great example. How can I build this for myself? They would hate to be stopped there and have to talk to someone before they could jump in. They love to even just find that, you know, that featured template and a gallery and just start customizing it themselves, like jump into the product that's already built out. Like they don't have a white space, it's just that template and they can move things around, uh, connect whatever existing software they need to, you know,...

...and imagine from a user's perspective, at that point you have, you know, essentially purchased enterprise software while feeling like you've just used something as a traditional consumer, and I think it's really a powerful experience for for those users and ring enforces, you know, what brings them into the community and it turns them into an evangelist for the brand. Yeah, this one's huge. I think the way you broke it down was really well said, and you think of it in understanding the product value and then also, like time, to sharing it with others. When we go back to the community piece, if that community is public in any way and someone is showing you the gallery, is showing you how the products being used, you're understanding the product value at a much higher rate than the way B two B companies and software companies used to do this behind walls and demos and all the like. We're breaking that barrier in a very significant way and that matters to marketing quite a bit. I think that's where I want to start to wrap this conversation. Kyle is going. Looking at these four if you were to give the marketers listening to B to be growth today, some sort of take away, some sort of main lesson coming out of these developments, what would be our homework? Assignment, in a sense the mindset shift that we should be taking on. So the top takeaway is just starting from the beginning, right of uh, go and study your the users of your product and what are they searching for, like? What are the what are the friction points that they run into that caused them to turn to Google or turn to a friend and look for a solution? And you know, I think that'll help you reach it like an an Aha moment around how to unlock a better P L G opportunity for your own company. And if you don't have that, you know, foundation of the end user focus, anything you do that you think is p LG, like give you a lunch of free trial or from me in product, without...

...that foundation is probably gonna fall flat. And so I would start there. And if you're as a marketer, can bring that voice of the user into your organization, I think you can find really powerful ways to attract a lot more people who are interested in your products at a low cost, because there might be dozens or hundreds of potential end users for every executive in an organization, and all of your competitors might be so focused on that executive and spending all their AD budget there that they're not actually discovered by by users, and so you can really take advantage of opportunities that have been neglected and I think you can become the champion for P L G in your organization and driving that end user mindset cross functions. I love it. Again, build for the end user, build to be discovered, build community as a competitive advantage and deliver instant product value. The article is called a new era for P L G, introducing the age of connected work. You can find a link in our show notes and you can go through all of the eleven principles that Kyle and the team over at open view have laid out for us. Kyle, thanks for breaking this down. Man, it's been a really fun conversation. I love nerd ing out on this stuff. You know your your content really well and this was a really insightful piece. Yea, it was my pleasure. I appreciate it. Y. What's the best way for people to connect with you and and open view as well? So you can follow me on Linkedin. I put put out content multiple times a week and subscribed by newsletter which is called growth unhinged. It's a free subject newsletter, and then the open view blog you can access just by you know, pretty easily, O v DOT VC or open view partners dot com, slash blog. Either way, I take you there and we as a as a company or just constantly putting out new thought leadership around product my growth, whether it's on our blog, in our podcast or or our newsletter, and so highly wreck men.

That is a resource for folks for sure. Kyle, thanks so much for being on B two B growth today. Yeah, thanks showing me on to all of our listeners. Thank you for checking out this episode. We want to help fuel your growth and innovation in your organization. So if you haven't followed the PODCAST, be sure to do that. You can connect with me on Linkedin as well, search Benji Block. I would love to talk to you about marketing, business or life over there, and we'll be back real soon with another episode. B Two B growth is brought to you by the team at sweet fish media. Here at sweet fish, we produce podcasts for some of the most innovative brands in the world and we help them turn those podcasts into micro videos, linkedin content, blog posts and more. We're on a mission to produce every leader's favorite show. Want more information? VISIT SWEET FISH MEDIA DOT COM,.

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