Retention is Everyone’s Responsibility! A Conversation With Buffer’s CPO

Recently, we have focused the lens of The Breakout Growth Podcast on the role of product in driving sustainable growth. We had a super-interesting conversation with Georgia Vidler, Canva’s former Head of Product, and this week we picked up that theme with Maria Thomas, Buffer’s Chief Product Officer. 


Buffer provides social media tools to facilitate authentic engagement with end-users. Customers can pre-schedule posts on multiple channels, engage with commenters, create reports, and more using the service. Maria is relatively new to the company, having previously served as VP of Product Management at Bitly, so it is interesting to hear her compare and contrast her experiences between these two fast-growing businesses.


To Maria, the single biggest growth driver at Buffer has been “brand beyond the product.” 


She explains that brand recognition is a tremendously important factor for both Buffer and Bitly, but with different go-to-market strategies Buffer’s brand in the context of its mission is what she sees as the company’s secret sauce.


The ability to speak to customers on a deeper mission-focused level has been a key factor in Buffer’s approach, and Maria explains that “Buffer was a product-led growth company even before PLG was cool.” From a product perspective, this has meant putting intense focus on building the user experience to power acquisition, retention, and expansion.  


We also learn that the company’s super-transparent culture that embraced remote work long before the pandemic began, has helped drive Buffer’s data-driven test/learn culture. However, it has also created interesting communications challenges along the way. As Maria describes how she has overcome these and other challenges, we get great insights into the world of growth from a product perspective.


This is a fun one, enjoy!


We discussed:


* Getting used to Buffer’s super transparent culture (3:30)

* How a well-known brand impacts growth, plus its impact on product (7:35)

* Highlighting Bitly vs. Buffer when it comes to go-to-market strategies (7:50)

* Key growth factors and challenges in Buffer’s Product Led Growth approach (8:34)

* Advantages and challenges of a no-meetings culture and asynchronous communications (13:05)

* Working with data; super-important but not a replacement for working with customers (19:41)

* Why MAU is the right North Star Metric to drive growth at Buffer (24:28)

* Organizational leadership where product and marketing are in constant communications (26:30)

* Why Maria believes in a dedicated growth team approach (27:00)

And much, much, more . . . 

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