Question Page

How do you prioritize your product marketing projects and still make time for ad-hoc requests?

Judy Abad
Judy Abad
TripActions Global Director, Business Strategy and CommsSeptember 19
This is a tricky one because you need to prioritize your work and hit your goals. At the same time, you want to be flexible if new projects come up that supersede what you’re working on. 
 
There are ways to ensure you arrive at the best decision for the good of the company. At the end of the day, everyone is working to make the company successful, and if your teams are functioning well, people will get that. A win for the company doesn’t always mean a win for you, personally. 
 

The best thing you can do here is communicate and share your goals and what you’re working on with your manager and/or with other teams. This will help you say no to any extraneous requests that come in. If you think an ad-hoc request is important, work with the person making the request to build the case for your team or whomever you need to work with to get it done. Why is this request being made? What will the impact be to the business? How does it align with company goals? What is the estimated time/resources needed? How will this affect what you’re currently working on? By ensuring everyone is on the same page, you can work together to make the right decision. 
1621 Views
Angela Zhang
Angela Zhang
Asana Head of Technical Product MarketingNovember 26

That’s always a challenge in a resource-constrained world! My goal is to spend 80% of time on 1-2 big strategic projects, routine launches, process improvements, and leave 10%-20% of time for ad-hoc requests which I’ll prioritize based on some combination of interest in problem, development opportunity, and relationship-building. 

During planning, I'll involve my key stakeholders (PM, design, and sales) into the process and walk them through how much PMM support they can expect. Things will invariably come up through the quarter, so I keep in mind and communicate what are must-do's, and how much, and what are below the lines that can get pushed. This gives folks a chance to give input and buy in to the planning.

When thinking longer-term of the remit PMM should own, I think of a 2x2 grid - work that gives energy or takes away energy along one axis, and work where PMM adds the most value or work that other functions can do just as well along the other. Projects that are in the “Gives energy”/”high PMM value” quadrant is where the focus should. The “Takes energy”/”low PMM-value” quadrant is where ideally the team will start de-emphasizing.

2238 Views
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Loren Elia
Loren Elia
Shippo Senior Director of MarketingJanuary 23

Ah, that's the million dollar question. At the beginning of each half we align with the leadership team which features and projects we're going to work on. This helps set expectations. Then I socialize with PMs what PMM is working on, which usually includes other projects besides feature launches. It's important for them to know what else you're working on to set expectations. Having said that, there's always adhoc requests and we either say no, and explain why we don't think supporting that request makes sense strategically, or provide some ammount of support.

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Grace Kuo
Grace Kuo
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Product MarketingMarch 5

Great question and something I deal with on the daily! 

Ad-hoc requests: 

  • Set expectations: Be clear with the requestor on timelines (why you can't get to it immediately, etc.) and try to let them know when you can get to it. 
  • Gauge importance of the request. If it's HIGH priority for your VP, CEO, etc. or something essential for a key initiative, then quite possibly you'll have to get to it sooner.
  • Ask questions: On top of how important it is, ask how the request will be utilized, or who it's geared towards. Often the more questions you ask, the better you can point them in the right direction or understand how meaningful the request is. 
  • Other resources: Are there other resources they can tap into? Is the answer or template somwhere else that you can empower them with?
  • Delegate: Are there other people on your team that can help out?
  • Stay organized: I try to log all requests in a central source so that eventually when I have free time, we'll be able to get to them. 

841 Views
Eileen Buenviaje Reyes
Eileen Buenviaje Reyes
1Password VP, Product MarketingFebruary 11

The quarterly planning process is critical in order to set expectations up-front about what product marketing can and cannot tackle. Ideally as part of that process, each PMM leaves a bit of capacity unaccounted for (my goal would be 10-20%). This buffer should accommodate any last-minute emergencies, scope creep on the priority initiatives, and professional development.

As a rule, I don’t encourage the habit of accommodating ad-hoc requests. It’s a slippery slope that leads directly into product marketing “peanut-buttering” and being perceived as a “ticket-taking” service organization, so beware! If ad-hoc requests are becoming the norm, I recommend taking a closer look at the planning process to identify and resolve the root causes to minimize ad-hoc request creation in the first place.

1764 Views
Roopal Shah
Roopal Shah
Snowflake Head (VP) of Global Sales EnablementMarch 10

So I use sprint planning for business. When it works well and we're compliant, it works beautifully. Here, we break our work into two week sprints and continously prune backlogs and review ad hoc requests. We also try to allocate 'white space" within the two week sprints for things that may pop up as needed. And we also have things like V2MOMs at Salesforce along with strategy / alignment decks that ensure we are marching towards the big uber goals. 

874 Views
Daniel Waas
Daniel Waas
AppFolio Vice President Product MarketingApril 6

There are many answers to this question depending on how large your team is, how much budget you have, etc. 

Some pointers:

  • Get clear on your goals for your product marketing team (even if it's just you) and how they ladder to the business goals. 
  • Build an annual plan. It's surprising how much you can get done in a year. It's also surprising how little you sometimes achieve in a week. By having an annual plan you can chip away at your long-term goals whenever time allows.
  • Take an honest look at the value of the outputs you produce. What can you stop doing? Ask the recipients of your work what they do with your output and if there is anything they no longer need, or that they do little with and could be delivered in a less frequent cadence.
  • Is there anything you can delegate or outsource? Can you throw money at the problem?
  • Fix your processes. Turn your last launch artifacts into a repeatable framework. Don't reinvent the wheel every time.
  • Set better expectations with your partners. What quality of input do you need to do good work? Communicate those requirements (but don't be defensive).
  • Hire people that are smarter than you.
  • Find the shortcuts that get you 80% of the way with 20% of the work. 
  • Work synchronously. Get everyone in a (virtual if need be) room and instead of having a meeting, do the work together. Make decisions right then and there. 
389 Views
Catlyn Origitano
Catlyn Origitano
Fivetran VP Product & Portfolio MarketingApril 13

We work with our PM team to create a quarterly roadmap. This helps us align with them on the major releases that are happening, discovery work we need to do, and align on key activities to influence growth. 

We also then do a big marketing team-wide planning every quarter to ensure that, for example, those big product releases are also on Content & Demand Generation's calendar.

We then have a ticketing system where folks can input requests. We review these on a bi-weekly basis to see if someone has bandwidth to support. 

364 Views
Steve Feyer
Steve Feyer
Eightfold Product Marketing DirectorSeptember 25

This is a great question. I have at least a half-dozen executives whose interests I seek to manage with my workstream. I keep a running list of my main projects and bring it with me anytime I meet one of these execs. I show my priority among them which is driven by immovable dates on the calendar (events and launches) and then by seniority of who is asking for a project. If I get asked for something new I explicitly push the bottom project, and it is 50/50 if the ad-hoc request will be withdrawn.

 

 

Whenever possible, I design a deliverable or positioning that meets the goals of several people.

690 Views
RJ Gazarek
RJ Gazarek
SolarWinds Director of Product MarketingJanuary 15

We do this in our team at Veracode! So we actually operate in a SCRUM/Agile fashion, with 2 week sprints. We point all of our work, and plan for an 80% capacity. This ensure we have time to drive ad-hoc requests and return immediate value to the business when they come up. In the event that we don't get ad-hoc requests for this sprint, and we find efficiencies, we bring in stories/work from the next sprint!

896 Views
Gregg Miller
Gregg Miller
PandaDoc VP of Product Marketing & BrandJanuary 18

I think a lot of it has to do with a combination of setting expectations and being realistic that important ad hoc requests will -- not might, but will -- come up. 

The most important time to make sure you're in that mindset and proactively communicating with your manager, team, and stakeholders is during quarterly/annual planning. Think hard about what your bandwidth will look like and what you need to do to hold 10-20% in reserve (likely means saying no to a few projects some folks have asked for). If you don't know how much work goes into something and you're finding it hard to forecast what 80-90% of your time actually looks like in terms of the potential projects on your list, your manager can be a great ally in clarifying what's realistic.

Then during the quarter/year it's all about being able to say no at the appropriate times, dynamically shift priorities as the needs of the business evolve, and tap your 10-20% of reserve capacity when it really counts.

756 Views
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