Vishal Naik

AMA: Google Product Marketing Lead, Vishal Naik on Influencing the Product Roadmap

December 6 @ 10:00AM PST
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Google Product Marketing Lead, Vishal Naik on Influencing the Product Roadmap
Top Questions
How do I influence the roadmap of our product, when my product team isn't very open to it?
I spend a lot of time with customers and prospects, and constantly hear feedback on our product. But my product management team doesn't seem to value this feedback.
Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
Winning over stakeholders is a key part of being a PMM, and it might be your approach that needs an iterative update. IMO, influencing roadmap comes down to influencing PMs--and some are going to be easy to work with and easily malleable and some arent. So if your product management team isnt ope......Read More
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Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
Time and resource allocation helps me think about this. If I know I have 40 hours of work already lined up and a new project pops up, it helps me to talk to product about when we'll be able to support a new workstream if I can detail whats currently open. That helps us jointly prioritize so that ......Read More
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Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
I'd reframe the question a bit from proving value to adding value. Proving value is a little defensive, vs adding value puts the onus on PMM to show up every day with a task to be done. I think about adding value to PMs in two parts: 1.  Trust: If I had to simplify it to a few key things, its a......Read More
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How do product marketers lead a product launch when roadmaps and priorities are constantly changing?
There is a lack of alignment at my company and our teams act in silos. Consequently, my roadmap and goals seem to change on a weekly if not bi-weekly basis because marketing keeps getting pulled in different directions. There needs to be some sort of roadmap and role that aligns sales with product, but I'm not sure if that should come from product marketing or not. I want to initiate this conversation, but I don't know if it's overstepping my role or not. Advice here?
Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
My advice on this one is that there's no real overstepping of your role--as long as you're respectful of others (both people and functions) and act in the interest of the company. If you're doing both of those things, then act like an owner and do what you think is necessary to help the business ......Read More
321 Views
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Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
If you dont have data or customer anecdotes, I'm not sure you should be driving roadmap. Influencing roadmap is an earned outcome and not something to just "do" for the sake of checking a box. Think of the roadmap as a business mechanism, and do you have enough to convince stakeholders that the d......Read More
549 Views
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Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
IMO PM creates products and PMM maps the product to the user. So I think the ideal role for PMM in shaping roadmap is to thoughtfully validate and critique the roadmap that Product creates based on your knowledge of the 1) user 2) product 3) market; with the ability to (aka having done enough hom......Read More
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Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
I tend to think that teams like to hear their work is appreciated and their processes are modeled. So if another team is required for estimating roadmap costs, I'd ask them questions about how they do this level of modeling? What's their process and what are their inputs? Then I'd take a stab at ......Read More
2078 Views
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Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
You'll definitely want to chat with a research agency or your internal researchers to build a game plan, but I think it starts with a list of questions you want answered. Nothing too formal, just conversationally, what insights do you need to know that will help build product strategies? For me, ......Read More
2248 Views
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Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
As a PMM, I tend to view the RACI as PMM being responsible/accountable and CS being considered and PM being informed/potentially considered.  But it depends on your org and how you're structured. The reason I say PMM is because I think the value of an advisory board is to help understand new t......Read More
573 Views
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Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
Tracking impact of launches and defining the costs associated with roadmap slipping. Sales deals lost because a feature was promised but didnt ship. Customer trust lost because they dont have confidence in what you say is coming. The opportunity cost of internal teams working on items that didnt ......Read More
491 Views
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Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
Impact. If you dont do the training, will the feature be used? Will it create more bugs? I think of this as a cost benefit equation--What is the cost of holding a launch to do a training vs what is the cost of launching without the training? Being able to articulate that potential downside to doi......Read More
492 Views
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Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
I dont really have a strong "pro" for why to do this, so I personally wouldnt put too much time and effort into it. But it may make sense for your business challenges. I think something to be aware of is that when you document your roadmap publicly, it puts more pressure to ensure dates dont slip......Read More
531 Views
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How do you influence product roadmap as a product marketer.
This is an interview question we get all the time
Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
Its about doing the work. I view influencing the roadmap as a byproduct of a great process rather than a task itself. So as you build up your understanding of the product and your user needs and you map that to the market and competitive landscape, formulate your own point of view on where your p......Read More
745 Views
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What role should a customer advisory board have in influencing your product roadmap, and why?
Product marketing owns the customer advisory board but product management owns the roadmap.
Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
IMO, your roadmap needs to be representative of your company vision. And practically, your company's growth opportunities would come from customer expansion and new deals. So I'd advise that you leverage your advisory board to really understand your current install base well. As you think through......Read More
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Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
For your sake, I'd hope that if your research shows that MVP doesnt equate to a value add for your customers, that causes your product team to make a full stop and push. That said, at this point I think you need to put your PM hat on and think about what features might make users see value in you......Read More
540 Views
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Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
To bring the voice of the customer (and all of the external market concerns top of mind to a customer) to help the PM team build the best product possible.  Feedback in review cycles or direct questions in 1:1s between leads helps. But its also valuable to read the room when you sit in on meet......Read More
597 Views
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I am product marketer for an enterprise-level ERP. I am faced with a situation where I do not have access to the end-users of the software. The account managers are willing to help me acquire the user list but we are debating the best ways to acquire the same. Have you been in a such a situation and done something great about it?
The list of end-users with their details will allow us to target educational product content that will help them do their jobs better. We would like to engage them via such content and also the Product Managers will benefit a lot from this direct access to end-users.
Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
I think this one is a bit tricky, because I wouldnt recommend creating a user list without appropriate PII governance. Rather than creating a user list, I'd suggest building an outreach stratgey that can deliver content to customers in a scaled manner. Some suggestions are in-app notifications th......Read More
1900 Views
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Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
A great business resource on developing XFN relationships is the book "Five Dysnfunctions of a Team" by Patrick Lencioni. Its an easy read and its scalable to all relationship building in your organization. If you can establish trust, you can have conversations and meetings with productive confli......Read More
709 Views
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How to understand customer journey in a B2B SaaS mobile application? Without using expensive softwares like Mixpanel or Yourstory.
1. Number of users for this application are around 500 to 1000. 2. Since the users are small don't want to spend money on Mixpanel or Your story
Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
How I've understood customer journeys in the past have never actually leveraged a software tool to do so. We've started by mapping out the customer journey into normal stages: awareness, interest, consideration, preference, loyalty. Then across those stages, look to see what is the customer think......Read More
774 Views
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Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
At my last company we made a launch tiering playbook. It was a series of 6 steps: 1) First, we's look at product's roadmap to see what was on the horizon 2) From there, we'd review PRDs. Mainly, we'd use the PRD to know what was behind the scenes so that we could forecast impact so that we ha......Read More
539 Views
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What kind of PMM organizational structure is ideal for ensuring that PMMs are set up for success (in this case, to influence the Product roadmap)?
For eg: Should PMMs be aligned with PMs (we have a 3:1 mapping), or should PMMs be aligned with the market/buyer persona or something else?
Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
As it relates to influencing roadmap, breadth is important. If youre spread too thin (I don't mean PM:PMM ratio, I mean commonality in what you cover--more on this later) then you wont be able to go upstream and influence roadmap because you'll be playing defense all day.  I personally think b......Read More
515 Views
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Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
I think I mentioned this in another answer, but I think a good framework is the Five Dysfunctions of a Team model. Build trust with your PM and other stakeholders--that's delivering results when called upon and being a key thought partner with your stakeholders. That will allow you to have produc......Read More
466 Views
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How do you know when you have enough solid information to put forward a product suggestion?
This ties into convincing teams that a feature or change is needed. What level of evidence or research is needed to show that a certain feature or requirement is a "must have" on the product roadmap. "The competitor has it" is not always justifiable evidence.
Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
Ultimately I view roadmap as a path to your company's vision to get more customers to use your service. Thus, I definitely dont think that meet-comp features by themselves are justfiable evidence to get something into roadmap--because the market already has that and is it really going to differen......Read More
482 Views
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How do you define between a customer(s) want or request and a feature that is actually needed?
Customers may want many things, but it might not always be the right feature to implement. How do you decide this?
Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
I'd say this is a volume game where you have to look for patterns while also thinking about your growth model and ideal customer profile. Given these data points you might find that out of the list of feature requests, a handful are commonly requested and and even smaller subset are commonly requ......Read More
2120 Views
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Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
I dont actually think my approach changes. I tend to believe that the process will yield results and my process to influencing roadmap focuses on acting (in my head) like I'm the owner of my product: * what users use my product? * what are they thinking/feeling as they go through the journey t......Read More
516 Views
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Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
I think the most important part of influencing product roadmap is that its an outcome created by a strong understanding of the user, strong understanding of the product and a strong relationship with product management. If you have those items already landed, then you can better understand if the......Read More
544 Views
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How do you get teams to feel bought-in for research that they aren't leading?
One challenge I've had is that teams will disregard research if their team didn't lead it, even if it's centered on small, qualitative studies.
Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
It starts with buy-in. If you can work with your XFN teams before the research is commissioned to chat about what questions the business wants solved and then once you have a vendor share the vendor proposal and then once you have qual/quant outlines share those with your XFNs to get their opinio......Read More
490 Views
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Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
The way I think about this is that PM owns the roadmap. What I mean by that is that, none of my PMs--past or present--have sat down and brainstormed about roadmap with PMM. So in the moments where I've felt that we have an area that is unadressed within our roadmap or that by not adding an item t......Read More
2198 Views
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Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
I personally think the biggest value of an MBA is in getting into product marketing. Most companies dont have APMM roles and so there isnt a ton of opportunities for true entry level roles. PMM roles tend to require mapping customers to narratives to products to marketing strategies, while being ......Read More
840 Views
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Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
The best full-stack marketers can go broad and deep. From a hard skills POV, you'd need to know enough to build a plan across any marketing dimension (product, social, email, web, growth, strategy, etc.) but IMO its more about the soft skills to build relationships, know when to do a task vs brin......Read More
589 Views
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Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
Empathy (insert business buzzword) around the customer and how they use the product and specifically what CUJs/JTBDs they are participating in during that specific usage. If you can really put yourself in the shoes of your customer and think critically around how it will be used and what impact t......Read More
547 Views
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Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadDecember 6
I like to anchor messaging to a foundational message house/messaging framework document that all other deliverables stem from.  * List out details about your core persona:what their challenges/pain points are.  * List out your market context.  * Think about your product differentiation  *......Read More
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