How do you find overlapping interest/commonality with product management that goes beyond wanting to connect the product to the customer?
At the end of the day, the common interest between a PM and a PMM is to build and grow a product or business. That means a few areas of common grounds:
- Product strategy - are we building the right product for the right target customers?
- Growth strategy - what are the in-product and marketing levers we can pull to increase subscribers and ARPU?
- Pricing strategy - how do we monetize our product?
These questions require collaboration and aligment between PM and PMM. Who takes the lead very much depends on the organization and the strength of the individual.
I think a strong PM-PMM relationship, on an team-level or individual-level, is based on three things: 1. focus on the customer - but we'll go beyond that!, 2. respect for what each other brings to the table, and 3. goal alignment within the org.
Here are the areas I focus on to build on #2 and #3
- Build PMM expertise on inbound research, around market opportunity and that overlaps with product vision and capability. This is a place where PMMs can really shine when we ask where is the market today and where do we expect it to go? What is the total opportunity and what can we expect to capture based on our product and customers? Inbound research helps establish PMM as the expert on market expansion and prospect capture. When I'm in roles that focus on 0 to 1 product concepts, inbounds help position PMM as a key to "de-risk" product innovation.
- Understand PM org’s goals - and articulate how partnership with PMM can help them succeed. In a previous role the focus was on mobile monetization, and the PM org at the time has never developed in-app monetization products. In that case, PMM brought robust market research and customer interview research that helped guide what I believed we need to build.
- Celebrate each others’ wins. Celebrating wins and sharing credit goes a long way in establishing trust.
A couple of other areas beyond customer that PMMs and PMs can find common interests in are market trends and competitive landscape dynamics. PMMs can provide conduct their own research and provide insights around the directions the current market is heading towards, or even suggest adjacent markets that could be served by the product. Similarly, PMMs can bring insights into the competitive landscape, including, but not limited to, their feature sets, brand reputation, pricing and packaging, and marketing tactics. Both types of insights can help the product team with their longer-term vision and strategy.
I recommend making the effort and taking time to connect with the people behind the roles. Working so closely with people, but in an all-remote environment can be really challenging. I do this by asking about their weekends/vacations, remembering their family/pets/hobbies and asking about them. I also share snippets from my personal life to build the relationship. I've also found that any opportunity to meet in person (assuming everyone is comfortable with in-person) while in a more casual environment like for coffee, meal, shared volunteer opportunity, or team building can make great strides in building these connections.
Ask yourself what it really means to connect the product to the customer?
You'll see that it's more than the features you build and launch alongside your Product Management partners. Behind product execution is product strategy, behind product strategy is a product vision, and that vision is based on a story. Product Management and Product Marketing build that story together — deciding what part of the story they build and when (Product leads, Product Marketing supported) and how and when to introduce that chapter of the story to their audience (Product Marketing lead, Product supported). You're strategic partners with an overlapping interest in using the product to tell a market story and influence the way people behave.