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How does the product marketing team's placement in the org chart (under marketing, product, etc.) effect your ability to influence the roadmap?

9 Answers
Alexa Scordato
Alexa Scordato
TikTok PMOAugust 13

If product marketing is embedded within product, what that usually tells me is that marketing is a secondary function to product. If you're operating within a product-led organization, the cadence of the business will be determined by product leadership and the roadmap they set. That said, marketing can certainly influence it, but it's a shared service to product. When product marketing reports into marketing leadership, that's usually a signal that marketing is a leading function at the executive table in which case there's more a balance between marketing and product co-creating or designing the user experience together. In both cases, marketing has a role to play, but in short, product marketing under marketing sets the stage for a partnership-oriented relationship with product vs. a service-based one. 

1263 Views
Rehan Mirza
Rehan Mirza
Verifiable Chief Growth OfficerMarch 26

Our PMM team currently rolls up under the Marketing practice, which rolls up into the Customer Org (Customer Success/Support, People Science, Marketing). This means Sales reports up through another org, as does Product - and each has their own set of key objectives/priorities. As the question here alludes, sure this can play a factor in easily influencing product roadmap (never an easy task no matter where you sit).

However, I've found the best way to influence the roadmap is by first, by building relationships with PMs and finding ways to support them early in their shaping/scoping process. This can be through market research, customer connections, or data analysis from the field (sales/success). 

More important than where you sit, I think it's the ability to identify these ways to provide value early on vs. being a project manager who's just seeing if the feature is on track (albeit, also important). 

Every SaaS org I've been in, there's always been a tension between Sales <> Product <> Customer - 

"customer X is threatening to leave because we dont have Y feature

"I keep losing a bajillion (anecdotal) deals because of Y feature"  

"Sales keeps overpromising and asking for one-off features that only their single prospect wants"

One thing that PMM can do in this situation is help all sides of this triangle looking at and reviewing the same sets of data - especially as part of regular scoping/shaping planning session. For example, capturing 'at-risk' or 'churned' reasons related to product feature categories/roll-ups, or using these same roll-ups as part of your 'Win/Loss' statusing within Salesforce. Doing so in Salesforce can allow not only the count of submissions (or upvote/downvotes) to be reviewed, but also the associated ARR, segment, region, industry, etc... associated with the product feedback and also allows for easy dashboard visualization and drill-down capabilities. This can help Product see, not only what customers are asking for, but what non-customers are looking for in a quantified - with all stakeholders looking at the same data. 

While this doesn't guarantee influence over a roadmap, it creates the instance where all parties are looking at the same data/speaking the same language. From there, creating points for these groups to provide additional feedback/context on this data to product, along with product walking through their thinking/prioritzation during this session can also be massively helpful in creating greater alignment between these orgs. 

Again, I don't mean this to sound easy in writing this by any means, but some tactics as part of a larger process I've found to be successful in improving communication and understanding across teams. 

1134 Views
April Rassa
April Rassa
Aventi Group Product Marketing ConsultantApril 2

The PMM team at HackerOne reports in Marketing. PM's purpose in the universe is to build the right product by translating customer needs into products they can't live without. PMMs role is to translate these products into value propositions that move customers to action and help influence the product roadmap. 

757 Views
Abhiroop Basu
Abhiroop Basu
Square Product ManagerJanuary 12

You would assume that being in the product organization would allow a PMM more influence. However, I’ve actually found the opposite to be the case. 

For a brief period of time at Zendesk, Product Marketing reported into the product org. This let us foster very close relationships with our product counterparts. We would go to all their meetings, offsites, planning sessions, etc. and be joined at the hip when it came to launching features. As a junior Product Marketer this experience can be intoxicating. The compromise you make though is that it’s the Product Managers that are the ultimate decision makers. As a Product Marketer, I more often than not, would play a supporting role in ensuring a feature launched.

In the last 4 years at Zendesk, Product Marketing has reported into the CMO and this has allowed the team to become far more strategic.

When Product Marketing reports into the Head of Product, your role becomes supportive and the goal becomes making a product launch successful. This is laudable, but you don’t get much of an opportunity to influence the roadmap. Reporting into marketing, let’s PMM keep product at arms length and take an unbiased view on what’s important. It also let’s PMM align closer with sales (and by extension customers) to get an unvarnished picture into what’s working and what isn’t with respect to the product.

So, sitting outside of product allows PMM to be better overall partners. However, coming back to your questions, are PMMs better able to influence the roadmap if they report into marketing? This is trickier, but in my experience the answer is "yes". As long as you have the credibility, sitting outside of the product org allows a PMM to bring a holistic picture of what customers need and by extension what needs to be built. It also allows PMM to bring an outside perspective (e.g. from sales) that product may not have.

My colleague Teresa Haun has written a great answer on why PMM should report into Marketing and not Product: https://sharebird.com/where-should-product-marketing-report-into-product-management-or-marketing.

1489 Views
Eileen Buenviaje Reyes
Eileen Buenviaje Reyes
1Password VP, Product MarketingFebruary 11

There are pros and cons to any PMM reporting structure, with no perfect solution. My experience has mostly been with a PMM team that reports into a marketing leader and doesn’t report into product. In this case, an intentional effort needs to be put toward building bridges across teams. All levels of the product and marketing organization need to implement and exhibit a culture of collaboration that minimizes silos between groups. What might this look like?

  • At the top: Marketing and product leaders co-presenting in one another’s team meetings to show where and how the teams are coming together. Shared OKRs across organizations. Recognizing one another’s team for their contributions.
  • On the ground: Automatically including the product or marketing partner in your recurring stand-ups or team meetings, ignoring any arbitrary organizational divides that might exist. Bringing one another into processes as early as possible, when no pen has been put to paper. 

In the scenario where product marketing reports into product, I've observed that alignment and communication between product and product marketing comes more naturally. But the trade-off that occurs here is that product marketers lose the benefits of being closely connected with other marketers, and silos are introduced at the product-level instead. This makes “marketing the org structure” a more likely outcome since it can be more challenging to identify bigger-picture marketing synergies and opportunities.

2498 Views
Rayleen Hsu
Rayleen Hsu
Nextdoor Head of Consumer Product MarketingMarch 3

From my experience, it's less about product marketing's placement in the org chart and more about product marketing's relationship with product and cross functional teams. I've been in orgs where PMM reports into product as well as others where PMM reports into marketing and have found that our ability to influence the roadmap is more dependent on the value that product marketing brings to the table and having a seat at the table rather than your reporting structure. A product marketer that has clearly demonstrated value and is considered a part of the core team will be brought along in the process early on.  

I will acknowledge however that being part of the product team means you're more looped into planning timelines from the get go and have to do less work to get information. Regardless of where product marketing sits, it's important to build strong relationships with key partners so that you are always top of mind when it comes to roadmap planning and product decisions. 

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

I have led product marketing teams that reported into marketing and others that reported into product. I've been reorganized from one to the other twice. I don't find it makes all that much of a difference. You'll need to work harder to build strong relationships with the "other" team. Your responsibilities should be the same. Regardless of where you sit in the organization, you need to build deep rapport with both the product and the marketing leader. Building a string relationship with the product leader can be somewhat easier if you're on the product side but being in marketing makes go-to-market orchestration easier. Having been on both sides my preference is to have PMM sit with marketing.

314 Views
Jennifer Kay Corridon
Jennifer Kay Corridon
Yelp Product Marketing Expert & MentorMarch 21

If the product marketing team is placed within the marketing department, they may be more focused on the promotion and positioning of products rather than on the development of the product itself. In this case, their ability to influence the product roadmap may be limited as they may not have a direct line of communication with the product development team. 

When the product marketing team is placed within the product department, they may have a more direct influence on the product roadmap as they are more closely aligned with the product and engineering team. This can be beneficial as the pmm can provide insights into the market and customer needs that can inform product development decisions. 

569 Views
Lauren B. Parker, MBA
Lauren B. Parker, MBA
Strava Sr. Product Marketing ManagerDecember 20

I’ve been under both the product org and the marketing org and there are pros and cons to each one. In my experience, the pros of being in the product org are that you are deeply embedded into the product team, can get more insights into the planning process of the roadmap and how and why new initiatives are prioritized, UX research is more readily available, and sometimes you get a more direct line of influence as the ‘voice of the customer.’ The cons are that you are sometimes relegated to specific channels and GTM strategies that limit the reach of campaigns, and you’re disconnected from the overall marketing calendar.

One of the biggest pros of being under the marketing org is that you’re surrounded by amazing marketers so you can see the full funnel and lifecycle of your consumer in and out of the product. Two cons I’ve witnessed when you’re under Marketing org, you can be seen as less the voice of the customer from your Product peers and more of as a company amplifier, where everything needs a GTM or a marketing moment.

At the end of the day, it’s less about the position in the org chart and more about the relationships you have with your PM. If you have a good working relationship with your PM, where you can bring product needs based on consumer insights and research and your voice is valued, that’s when you’re most influential. They can speak for you in rooms you might not be in or you can work together on the how and why the roadmap is coming together in a particular way. If there's any working relationship that you need to invest in the most, it's the one you have with you PM.

374 Views
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