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How do you get product management to bring you into initial design process?

8 Answers
Laura Jones
Laura Jones
Instacart Chief Marketing OfficerDecember 8

One way I have approached this is to bring the cross-functional team together for a Design Sprint. Sprints are one of the most effective ways to quickly align a team around key insights and develop a customer-centric product solution. Having PMMs participate in or even lead these sprints is a great way to make sure all functions have a voice in shaping the product. Jake Knapp's book "Sprint" is a great resource for learning how to lead or participate effectively in a sprint. Companies like Google, Facebook, AirBnB, and of course Uber leverage sprints as a tool for product design.

1938 Views
Sangita Sarkar
Sangita Sarkar
Immutable Head Of MarketingNovember 12

Establish trust.

Throughout my career in gaming, I have seen silos of functions where product doesn't communicate with marketing or design doesn't communicate with engineering- leading to fragmented consumer experiences.

The way to break past territorial boundaries between marketing and design is to build trust with the individuals by asking questions about how design process decisions are currently made and following up with feedback from consumer testimonials on any proposed changes. 

Showing genuine intent around optimizing the end user experience is the easiest common ground to find- so try to begin and end the conversations with what's best for the consumers. 

The few gaming companies I've worked also have an open feedback forum for feedback on design as features are being tested in beta- so get that dev build and provide regular feedback! The time is now.

1086 Views
Caroline Walthall
Caroline Walthall
Quizlet Director of Product and Lifecycle MarketingJanuary 30

Every team has a different dynamic with this. In my experience, the PMMs who are highly empathetic and clued into team dynamics do best in this scenario. One of the fears many designers and PMs share is “design by committee”. It’s important to ask for a seat at the table but in a way that’s not forceful or prescriptive.

Here are a few tactical ways to get in on that part of the process: 

  • Volunteer to help with user testing of prototypes
  • Propose quick user research to gather user perceptions, expectations, and satisfaction so that you can better frame your marketing messaging. Bring those findings back to your designers to talk through any implications those insights might have.
  • Ask smart questions about how the design appeals to your target user(s)
  • Ask to help with copy (if you aren’t already doing so). Design and copy need to have a strong interplay and sometimes design can lead copy and other times copy should lead design.

If there is time and space for it have a weekly or biweekly meeting with your key design lead. It might make sense for your PM to attend that meeting as well, or if they are really busy, there is still a ton of value in having 30 minutes a week set aside as a working session to gather each other’s feedback and clear through any blockers together.

668 Views
Brandon McGraw
Brandon McGraw
DoorDash Senior Director, Head of Product MarketingMarch 31

Like all things, I think this comes down to trust building. When you're new, focus on building trust with PMs by showing that you can handle the highest priority, high impact problems they bring your way. Use this to show them that you know your stuff and can handle operating at the speed and pace of the business. 

I've found that this usually leads to the invitation to more challenges upstream but if it's not happening naturally, don't forget to ask! PMs engage a lot of stakeholders and I've most often found that they aren't sure where to engage PMMs when they're new to the relationship. If you're a leader, build a tool that you socialize with product leadership on where to engage the team. If you're an IC, spend time in a 1:1 outside of the daily tasks educating the PM on where you can help. 

In the early days, spend more time that you think you should in meetings you're not sure you need to be in. This will help you undertstand the people and the flow of work. More importantly, it will establish you as part of the team and help you and others spot opportunities where you can jump in earlier.

1225 Views
Jessica Webb Kennedy
Jessica Webb Kennedy
Hummingbirds Head Of MarketingDecember 8

Over the years we've worked really hard to get PMMs a seat at the table when it comes to working with the predetermined product triad - Engineering Manager, Product Manager, Designer. I've found that building individual relationships with each of these people is key to getting brought in to higher-level conversations from the onset. Besides developing interpersonal relationships I think it's really important to express that you WANT to be a part of the design process, and that doesn't mean you need to be consulted for every little detail, but making sure it's known that you care and have opinions in this area is 🔑. It's also great to bring examples of things you like and don't like and to take a stance on why! I'm lucky to work with designers that are extremely inclusive and really give space for every voice to be heard and for feedback to be incorporated. PMMs have a special skillset and vantage point, we see a lot of competitive collateral and know what's going on in the market - bringing that to a design conversation is usually more than welcomed.

918 Views
Uri Kogan
Uri Kogan
R-Zero Vice President of Product MarketingMarch 3

This can definitely be a challenge, depending on the relationship between PM and PMM. There are a number of approaches that can help.

1. If you have had a prior launch that didn't go as perfectly as everyone hoped, have a conversation with them about some of the challenges that, easy to see in retrospect, limited the success of the effort. Highlight points of disconnection between PM and PMM that led to feature or design choices that didn't hit the nail of the hed because PM lacked the understanding of the target buyer that you had at the time.

2. Make sure PM sees you as a value-added contributor to that process. Do you have industry knowledge or customer data or relationships that shed light on some of the decisions they need to make up front? If you make their job easier, they'll happily invovle you.

445 Views
Shezana Manji
Shezana Manji
BenchSci VP of MarketingOctober 12

As product marketers, we need customers to believe in the why (value, benefits), the how and what become proof points. This is also a critical input for the design team to create the right solution to the problem. I have never struck out by telling the PM and UX lead that I will be better at my job by being part of the design process and see it come to life. At first you may be an observer in design reviews, and as you build context arout the product, customer, competitors.. you'll bring a more meaningful voice to the table. Remember that it's the PMs job to guide the requirements for the design process, too many competing voices can derail projects very quickly. If you're real objective is to influence the requirements, do it early. As with everything, have a clear objective of why you want to be part of these discussions, how does it make you better at your job and what you can contribute. 

494 Views
Aneri Shah
Aneri Shah
Ethos Head of Marketing, B2BFebruary 17

Lead with insights. The best way to get involved as a PMM is show that you have both the breadth and depth of insights that articulate the customer problem, and can help shape the designs. Positioning yourself as this expert makes it a much more natural solution for you to be involved. Some ways to do this are: 

  1. Bringing in competitive insights for how others have solved similar problems - better yet, show differences in competitors' solutions and think about where your company should lie along the solution spectrum and why
  2. Showcasing customer stories - deeply showcase the pain point and job to be done, other solutions the customer considered, why they need X product. Customer interviews are a great way to do this. Use media (video, photos, quotes), or better yet, have your product/design team sit in on the interview. 
  3. Do the pre-work: What can you demonstrate to your PM counterpart that suggests that your POV would be valuable in the design process? Rather than keeping 1:1s casual, use the time for thought-provoking questions/ideas, or walking through some of this work you've done thinking through the problem space. This could be as simple as putting together a 1-pager framing your thoughts, but that structure and foresight will have you regarded as an expert on the problem. 
415 Views
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