Have you ever been part of a launch where the eng/product team brought in product marketers or customers after work has kicked off (but before launch) and influenced feature development? What was that like?
Yes, definitely. Although it’s not ideal, it can happen and you can make an impact in terms of helping them understand product feature prioritization, since they probably already have some idea of what they're building, and (hopefully) who they are solving a problem for.
If there are a ton of potential feature options, say over 15, a good method to prioritize internally is the RICE model, which le ts teams rank features based on Reach, Impact, Confidence (that the feature will solve a problem) and Effort form the engineering team.
If you have ten or fewer features you’re trying to test, I’d highly recommend the Kano method , which I used recently with the product team at SocialChorus. For each feature, you ask a series of 3 questions, whether they’d like to have the feature, not have it, and the importance of the feature. This gives you the ability to plot out the answers to see if they would be delighters to your audience, improve performance, are “must haves” or if they are actually detractors. At SC, this really helped us identify the features to *not* prioritize, which saved us countless hours of production. It was a great way for PMM to influence the feature development.
Yes. One of product marketers’ jobs in the process is to continue sounding the alarm for user validation at each phase of the process, but that’s easier said than done. Pressure to ship product work quickly directly conflicts with this. The reality is that some product teams are more user-centric than others. If you have a product org that is not as user-centric in the early stages, it’s an opportunity for you to get more involved at that point.
Develop better relationships with your PDE orgs and bring more value to the table in the form of distilled customer insights and future projections around target markets, market sizing, and expected GTM impact. It’s hard for PMs to ignore clear, concise, and helpful information that could help them make better decisions.
In my career, the launches I’ve been “brought into” at a late stage have almost always been less impactful, and sometimes that’s okay. Not everything needs to be a big splash. Sometimes when these are pure “feature parity” launches that merely bring you up to industry standard or simply provide parity across platforms, you don’t need to be so involved in the product cycles. But if you're making bigger investments in the product than that, you should absolutely have a seat at the table. Try using data to make your case. If there was an example of a disappointing launch that you were brought into last minute, use that business failure as a reason to try something new in the process.
It’s also helpful to define what types of launches you can offer the product org and to clearly articulate what their side of the bargain looks like to get those levels of service from you. For example, “tier 1 and tier 2 launches must involve product marketing in the discovery and/or validation stages of product development.”
However, if you've tried those things and your product team is exploring new features or serious directional changes without your input, I’d recommend finding a better playground. While you can make significant headway in influencing individuals or certain leaders you work with, if you’re in an environment that doesn’t respect PMMs, it’s better for you to take your talent somewhere that does!
I'm potentially not understanding this question - all of the companies I've worked at beta test features and products prior to launch, so product always explicitly solicits this type of feedback prior to a launch. In fact it's a great place for product marketing to get feedback and customer stories that can help with launch positioning, messaging and content as well!
Product Marketing can often bring in the voice of the customer to influence in the development process. I've been involved in product launches from ideation to general availability and the most powerful insights come directly from customers. Interviewing customers on their pain points, to validate the problem we need to solve; and then interviewing other customers on the solution, to validate what the team built solves the problem we identified, have been enlightening and have heavily influenced the eventual product/feature launch.
Product Marketing can also bring in strategic insights from Analysts, market trends, and competitive insights to further strengthen the specifics of a product launch.