How do you influence product roadmap as a product marketer.
Captain obvious here but customers and data. Framing stories and pain points mapped to personas helps, partnering with your Product team so you're locked in the customer journey is also super helpful, so the teams recognize where the shifts muct be made.
Customer retention is the holy grail of business, and don’t you ever forget it! Without customers, you don’t have a product or business, so if you want to keep them (happy), it’s in your best interest to serve their needs.
Your customers should be the “why” behind your product vision and at the end of the day there shouldn’t be anything that goes on your roadmap that doesn’t help soothe customer pain and solve their problems. Maintaining customer focus within your roadmap also means not wasting your team’s valuable time and resources on features that will have no impact. Investing time into meticulously prioritizing your customer’s needs and coming up with real solutions to real problems is the best possible way to keep the product roadmap relevant.
First off, Hey everyone! Nice to be doing this AMA with everyon and we will kick it off here with How do you influence the Product Roadmap and a PMM. So this is a great question and I build and strategically place my teams with the Product Management teams in order to make sure that we have this communcation structure in place to impact the roadmap. In order to influence a product roadmap the best course of action is to build out your initial go to market strategy, build out a TAM so that you know what the total addressable market is. From there as the roadmap is being built certain features and functions should be able to directly address the markets and persona's that you are going to market with. So when a feature is built you can run a quantitative and qualitative analysis with the persona's you created and figure out if this will make a critical impact. Product teams always want to build for scale, building for one offs is difficult and expensive and doesn't scale. So do the research on how big is this market and does this make sense to build from a Profit and Loss and your product teams will start to bring you into the fold more.
The first step here is often the most easily overlooked: understand the product team’s goals, so you can figure out how to position and prioritize your projects in a mutually beneficial way. Secondly, you’ll want to level set on the company strategy before honing in on the product roadmap in a particular area. Once you’ve done that, you can start outlining the market opportunity, identifying the target audience, developing solution-level GTM strategies, and helping partner teams understand how to uniquely position the company to meet market demands in a differentiated way. This empowers you with a clear framework you can reference when making a business case for new product initiatives. Just like you, your PMs will be more motivated when they understand how their work drives broader company goals.
From a more tactical standpoint, you’ll be able to influence much more effectively if you lean on both quantitative and qualitative data. Without this, you’re just advocating for subjective beliefs as opposed to objective facts. Represent the voice of the customer by leveraging sales feedback, support requests, and interviews. Paint a picture of the market, mapping out the competitive landscape to highlight trends and identify user needs. Product Managers are problem solvers — demonstrate that there is a real problem to be solved by tapping into the vast amounts of user data at your disposal.
Even if you do all of the above to make a strong business case, you never know how your hypothesis will play out once you go to market. I always recommend working with PMs to outline a validation plan, implementing milestones that present learning opportunities along the way, so you can adjust the trajectory accordingly. In doing so, you’ll build strong habits around influencing the roadmap regularly, rather than viewing it as a one off event.
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 product needs to go and become a thought partner to your PM. Influencing the roadmap is a long game, but if you can brand yourself as a trusted mind with your product manager that has an eye for where the product can go--and you deliver results along the way (your work yields better engagement, more usage, higher MQLs, etc.)--then your product teams will seek your opinion.
One example was at a previous company, I came in with a developer marketing background and was excited about low-code opportunities. This company had a robust API, but no low-code strategy. As we would brainstorm, I'd throw out questions about low-code to get the conversation going internally and gauge mutual excitement. I ended up doing research on another topic and included some seed questions on our developer apetite for a low-code solution; and they performed well. As we worked with partners, where we had a low-code integration that we could market, we saw those were performing well as well. So that combination of internal meetings, developer feedback, and marketing results led to more conversations around low code to the point that we started elevating our very nascent low code offering into prime keynote real estate in tentpole internal events.
So its really about knowing the customer and the opportunity and having a point of view for where your org should go, and then seeing that through with your PM teams.