How do you influence the product roadmap without clear monetization targets for new features/products?
The goal of any new product/feature releases is to allow your business to capture or retain slice of the market. It is important to have as much clarity as possible before enbarking on any development.
Monetization or value creation is easy to gauge when similar features are already offered in the market. But let's say your product team was working on feature that doesnt exist in the market. If you go back a few years there was no concept of anonymizing phone numbers when connecting two people. Delivery and ride sharing companies introduced this feature and is offered routinely now. So how did they evaluate that this was an important feature to spend calories on.
As product marketer you can build a case by starting with a clear hypothesis on who would value this feature? how much would they be willing to pay for it? what brand reputation or churn risks do you have for not offering it? does this feature prevent intitial adoption with prospect?
Test your hypothesis with surveys, in person interviews or painted red doors. Then bring forth a case with data and customer anecdotes for new features to your product peer. They might find it hard to ignore.
Before prioritizing product initiatives, it's important to help your product team get a handle on the market and estimate the market opportunity. I usually work with an analyst to do competitive and market research that are inputs into a bottoms up revenue model. These early models contain a ton of assumptions, but it at least helps start a conversation around expected impact.
You can also follow up on qualitative insights you've gathered with bigger surveys to validate the "market sizing" of the problems and opportunities you've identified.
Another top-down way to go about this is to look at the total market size and think through how these features might enable you to take a bigger slice of the total market. Do plenty of due diligence here in your competitive research and try to also project what key competitors' strategies might be to help justify your position.
Our job as product marketers is to help the organization maximize the capture of market opportunity — whether that’s becoming more competitive, entering new markets, increasing the value we deliver to existing customers, or numerous other ways.
Thus I think it’s important to start with “what opportunity will this new feature/product unlock?” Ultimately the feature/product should drive some core value for the business in the form of a measurable KPI. Often this will be revenue. But if you can’t deliver an estimate of revenue/monetizeable opportunity, there are plenty of other KPIs that directly and indirectly impact revenue: free trials, conversion rates, customer churn, a core engagement/usage measure (and it should be a proven value driver like “likes" and “shares" on Instagram as opposed to something peripheral), etc.
The next step is demonstrating how the new feature/product will have a huge impact on that dependent business measure. For example if you think your proposal will help reduce churn, you should bring information to the conversation showing that a significant share of lost customers/users in the past 12 months left because feature/product X wasn’t part of your offering. Or if your proposal is meant to increase conversion rates, go out and do 20 interviews with people who did a free trial but failed to convert and show that in a majority of these conversations people cited feature/product X as being a key product gap. And if you are targeting a KPI like churn or conversion rates, that can yield a monetization target (for example if churn is costing you $5M/yr and you think this could reduce churn by 10%, this feature would be worth $500,000 per year for the existing customer base plus an X% increase in LTV for every new customer signing up thereafter).
If you aren’t able to figure out both what KPI your proposed feature/product would improve as well as provide evidence for why this would be the case, you likely need to keep iterating on the idea and/or the research to support it.
While monetization is a clear way to measure a product launch, it's not the only success metric. There are many other ways to measure a launch that are relevant to specific products or features. Broadly speaking, new products could also impact market awareness, pipeline creation, win rates, adoption, and upsell / renewal. Some features/products were specifically created to unlock new markets or future capabilities. Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to measuring the success of a launch.
In general, Product Marketers should aim to understand the objectives of the company and how the product roadmap helps advance those objectives. PMMs should work with Product and other teams to define what success looks like and provide informed perspectives on where the roadmap should take into account the market and buyers. PMMs should try to articulate how roadmap decisions impact GTM success, put out a hypothesis for what should be adjusted in the roadmap, and define ways to validate whether or not the hypothesis was correct. Over time as the Product team sees that PMM's input helps with better product decisions, PMMs gain more credibility to further influence the roadmap.