One area where I've seen PMM historically drive a ton of value is with market and competitive insights. By bringing insights from the market, competitive landscape, buyers, and/or analysts, PMM can ensure that product has considered all inputs when they narrow down on their target user, pain points, and finally solutioning.
Here is a deck we've used internally to help build collaboration between PM & PMM. If you're still struggling with being brought in too late, my advice is to focus on 1-2 deliverables that could really drive value for your product org. Pilot that with a product group or PM, and then go from there.
Timing is hard. This requires coordination on the CMO/CPO level. The business and product orgs would need to align on a few major product launches for the year, and aim for a general launch date range. I still say “general” because it's really hard to predict how product development will go, and it's always important to prioritize what's best for the customer.
For other feature launches, I recommend giving your PM more visibility into the marketing calendar. For example, if there's a major opportunity coming up to promote their product (an upcoming event or roadshow), it would also be in their best interest to aim for that date. Again, it still depends on the development process, but that can align PMM and PM on timing.
I have always loved this quote by Robert Johnson (notably a musician, not a product marketer!):
“Leadership is the ability to influence people and motivate them to do what needs to be done to accomplish a goal, vision or mission.” Those last three parts: goal, vision, and mission, are the keys to influence. Know what you are trying to accomplish (the goal), the vision of where that accomplishment will take you, and the why (the mission).
I always like to have a stack-ranked list of requested features/needs from customers for priorities. Stack-ranked by impact. For timeline, I find the best method is to give the team broad awareness of all the moving parts. This way, they see the upstream and downstream implications of missing delivering timelines.
As noted in a similar question above—DATA. But I don't think the word "influence" is quite right. I really don't think PMMs should have an agenda when it comes to roadmapping. I think our role is to represent the needs of users, and bring data to PMs to help them navigate that decision making process.
We can provide:
Set up a plan with your PMs to deliver updates to some or all of the above on a quarterly basis. Make clear what they can expect from you and when, and you'll be solidifying your place in their workflow.
It’s really important to understand your product’s team development process. How is the Product team structured and why? What and when are their sprint cycles. How do new tasks get on the backlog and how is the backlog prioritized. If possible, attend backlog prioritization meetings so you can understand what information PMs look at when making decisions. This will help you be much more strategic in how, when, and why you add on the backlog. Also it’s key to develop a close relationship with a few PMs so they can champion for you during the prioritization process.
In my experience, the most powerful tool for influencing the Product Roadmap as a PMM is customer insights. If you can clearly demonstrate customer pain points and inspire empathy, that tees up the opportunity to be part of the discussion around how you might meet those needs through product solutions. From a timeline standpoint, I find aligning on prioritization to be the most effective lever. One way to approach this is to look at the roadmap, estimate the business impact of all key initiatives, and assess whether delivery dates should be re-stacked to address the most impactful projects soonest.
My biggest advice is be customer-focused.
I am a big believer in PMM being a strategic partner to Product Management.
Beyond this simply being my belief, it is hard to build a strong PMM organization unless the business sees the function as strategic. One of the ways in which I've helped Product Marketing to be viewed as an important and strategic function of the business is by influencing the product roadmap.
Each PMM on my team - including myself - is involved at Product Discovery. The reason we're involved is that we come into the discussion with a strong understanding of the market, our customer (in particular the buyer persona), the competitive landscape, win-loss data within sales, campaign performance, and with data on how our products are performing (e.g. pipeline/bookings) by region/customer/by channel.
At Snow, we subscribe to the notion that Product Marketing is measurable. The PM role is simply too large to own all of what I just described in the last paragraph. If you are known as someone who understands the customer and you are in possession of data than can help support product in prioritization, then you can get that set at the Product table that you are seeking.