Promise, Deliver, Remind – a simple framework for product growth

When interacting with people outside the world of technology, I oftentimes have to explain what I do on a daily basis. If I don’t want to explain things, I say “my job is to make Safari more money.”

The response goes something like this: “well, doesn’t everyone at the company try to do that?” The answer is yes – but at the same time, a growth team is much more focused on moving those numbers. It’s the primary responsibility to increase revenue (a key metric for us), but at the same time, there’s a plethora of sketchy tactics a company could do to make more money.

I’ve changed my explanation to: “my job is to deliver more value to customers, and increase revenue.” Yes, it’s a bit more abstract, however, making money is a result of delivering more value.

In the rest of the article, I’m going to discuss a simple framework for how to grow your product. This applies to startups as well as established organizations.

The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is the foundation

The key to the framework is to have something that people value. What makes you different? What unique thing do you provide that others don’t? What problem are you solving? In business jargon, this is known as the unique selling proposition.

For startups, this is the biggest challenge. To make matters worse, these startups try to solve many problems at once, clouding their judgment in the process (and oftentimes creating a bloated product).

With that being said, I recommend using the framework below. It’s basic, yet works for small startups and large companies alike. If you’re a startup, you’ll need to discover/refine the USP, while established companies tend to have an idea why people use their product and pay.

Step #1: The Promise

The first step in this framework is centered around a promise to the end-user. Your goal is to convince someone that you have something they want, and convince them to take a next step. This is the role of marketing. For e-commerce, this can be placing an order, for SaaS, it’s creating a trial account.

To illustrate, let’s look at a few examples.



There’s many talks about how Facebook knew that the key to retention was getting to 7 friends in 10 days. It makes perfect sense – the homepage sells the promise of being able to connect with friends.


Intercom is promising users that they can help you see who’s using your product, and communicate with them through a variety of channels (email, in-app, etc).



What’s AdRoll promising? If I wasn’t already familiar with the product, I wouldn’t know. If I was in charge of copy homepage I’d say something like:

Re-engage your website visitors with targeted ads and turn them into customers by reaching them when the time is right.

The promise is that this product can help you increase revenue by reaching customers that leave your website and don’t do the you action you want them to do.

If you’ve ever heard “sell the sizzle, not the steak”, the promise is the sizzle.

Step #2: Deliver

For people that buy into the promise, and take an action, the countdown clock just started ticking. You now need to deliver on the promise as quickly as possible, while only requiring what’s necessary to deliver an optimal experience. This is where many products fall short. They clutter onboarding flows with steps that don’t make the core promise shine the brightest.

For Facebook, it’s finding friends already on the platform. For Twitter it’s following people/celebrities. These “extra” steps make the product useful, and help deliver on the promise. If people don’t complete these steps, they won’t fully discover the value that’s offered.

Step #3: Remind

Many people talk about the “aha moment.” I don’t think it’s a single event. If people have an “aha moment” and never come back, you still have work to do. Instead, these are many moments when people are reminded of the promise that you delivered.

These reminders can be “pushed” with re-engagement tactics (push notifications, email, etc), or provoked by longer lasting bonds like habits or the need to solve a reoccurring “pain” (example: for Intercom customers it’s the need to talk to their app users).

What’s the best way to see how well you’re doing with this step? If you’re selling software and have enough trial signups, visualize retention through cohorts. If you’re just starting out, reach out to people using the product, and ask them what provokes them to use your product/service. There’s no need to overcomplicate this.

Next Steps

I hope you use this framework as a guide to keep things simple. Document your experiences with other apps using the steps above. Also, look at the offline world as inspiration.

When you’ve found something that keeps customers coming back, build more features and solve adjacent problems, but don’t forget what keeps people coming back.

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