Art of Message

Art of Message – May 31, 2023

4 alternatives to marketing led growth

Let’s imagine that there are 5 ways to grow a business.

  • PLG – Product-led growth
  • MLG – Marketing-led growth
  • SLG – Sales-led growth
  • CSLG – Customer-success led growth
  • ELG – Engineering-led growth

Which is best? I’ll cut right to the punchline: instead of picking one, you probably want a blend.

The wealthy of Silicon Valley love PLG and ELG. It lets them leverage access to capital, access to amazing product talent, a love of product metrics, and patience. You focus on nothing but building an amazing product, iterate for years, patiently waiting for worth of mouth adoption.

In reality most VC-funded startups grow on SLG and MLG – but they at least they like the idea of product-led growth.

I like it too – I appreciate focusing on the product.

PLG and ELG are the approaches to product growth that will be most enhanced by generative AI, which allow for much more rapid product improvement.

But the two approaches above are expensive and not realistic for most B2B solutions providers.

Those kinds of businesses traditionally relied on SLG, which requires skillful, intelligent, and socially brave people to sell, one-on-one, day after day.

This is the most underappreciated of the three approaches. Like the similarly personality-powered CSLG, which focuses on extreme customer happiness after the sale, this focuses on one-to-one human relationships. Thus both will be slightly less transformed by generative AI than the other approaches.

SLG is the most derided- maybe that because people are secretly too scared to sell. So they default to the go-to: marketing-led growth. Social media, content marketing, digital advertising, SEO. This is the one that will be most disrupted by generative AI, especially SEO.

Anyway – why the rundown? What’s my point?

Most people need to escape the mental trap of assuming that marketing-led growth is the only path forward. There are lots of options!



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