If your product marketing team is only or two people responsible for covering multiple products with complex features, how would you recommend dividing the workload in the short-term so as best to support long-term growth and expansion of the team?
There are always going to be a million things that you feel need to be done. PMMs by nature want to take on everything, but the fact is, even though things might seem critical, not everything needs to be done right away. Especially in the absence of a senior marketing leader who can help triage projects, this can get complicated. So it's REALLY important to first determine the most critical priorities and then phase out things, especially with a small team and low resources. Some ways to do this:
- If your company has OKRs or company-wide goals, use that as your north star. Look at your to-do list and go through each one to say, does this tie to current company goals? If it doesn't, move it to a backlog. If you are not sure, ask your leadership team to make that clear, because, at the end of the day, you need to focus on things that will actually move the needle.
- Always keep a backlog of things once you have prioritized, and make that visible to everyone, especially your XF partners in the product and sales team. The next time you get new requests, having a backlog along with your top priorities will make everyone understand what you have prioritized and why - and how it ties to the company goals.
- Be comfortable with saying no to things - this is one thing you learn with time. You will always get asked for more, and it's easy to become a machine that is pumping out new content or collateral, etc. but that is not helping your company in the long-run, so pick and choose what you say yes to. It should also give you time to work on the more strategic initiatives that will help you with long-term growth.
- Also identify some initiatives that are low-hanging fruit so that you can deliver a few good things and build better relationships with your XF partners, while you work on the more strategic initiatives.
I think there are a couple ways I'd think about it - and it would depend on what the PM organization looks like and the individual skills of the folks on the PMM team (if already in-seat).
Approach 1 - Make one of the PMMs Product-facing (handling predominantly new product/feature introductions or launches and product enablement) and one of them more Marketing- or Sales-facing (handling things like first-call decks, website copy, core positioning)
Approach 2 - Map those PMMs to the PMs and have the teammates cover everything from launches to sales collateral for specific products or product surface areas.
Whichever path you chose, you will need to be really clear on what your team can and can't handle. Easier said than done, I know. :)
I would look at 2 vectors.
- What products/features are critical in winning deals. At Honeycomb, our Sales Engineering leader looked at all closed/won deals in a given time frame and indicated which products/features were most important in successful POCs. We’re putting PMM ownership on the top products/features from that analysis. We were lucky to get this analysis handed to us. If it is not easy to get this level of information, even just surveying your sales/SE teams and asking them to stack rank product/features in terms of importance in their deals will give you directional info.
- What is coming from a new product launch perspective that will need strategic support? When the company has invested significant R&D into something, PMM needs to be there to bring it to market. Otherwise, the investment falls flat. If you can’t support new major launches due to bandwidth, this is often an effective negotiation hook with mgmt to get additional PMM resources. i.e. “we just spend x months building y product, and the biggest risk we face is lack of PMM bandwidth to ensure success in the market.” Leadership is more likely to proactively fund additional PMM resources to ensure the success of new products than retroactively add resources when the perception is that the GTM failed.
The most straightforward way to manage this might be to divide the products between the two of you in an even way - where each of you has a clear line of ownership, end-to-end, of your skews. This will be less messy to untangle as you hire new pmms, where you can hand off speficic product areas in a clean way.
As far as there only being 2 of you, and multiple/complex products - once you're clear in what you own, work to prioritize the product areas that are aligned to business impact. Which products are the most healthy for the business and how can you prioritize these areas in the short term?
Fun! It sounds like you have so much potential for impact.
I would recommend looking at your external and internal factors. So it'd be tempting with a "complex" feature set to say - split it into equal sets of product to become expert in. But the thing is - I may be unpopular for saying this - it's not on PMM to be the expert in the deep technical product. But to be expert in how the product intersects with key market segments.
So I would say split it by looking at your core GTM motion - whether it's particular market segment, or expansion v new business, bonus if it aligns well with the way the rest of the organization is aligning leadership so you are lined up to specific stakeholders that you can focus on.
And keep your eye on the core business metrics - not vanity metrics. Doesn't matter if you make a ton of content - if you can have a smart conversation about how the product is hitting in a market segment and what you suggest to do about it...that puts you in a totally different league than saying "last quarter we did this launch and got x views"
I would recommend ruthless prioritization.
- Work with your product counterparts to figure out the most important products from a business/strategy standpoint. Then make sure you are giving these products the lion's share of your time and energy.
- Work with your business leaders to understand the most important GTM initiatives (self-serve, Sales, Field marketing, etc.). Then make sure you spend the majority of your effort on prioritized GTM. It is no use creating beautiful-looking slide decks if your Sales effort is non-existent. Maybe focus more on message optimization on the website.
You still need to do an OK job for other products (for example, having a product page on the website). However, the key products should see a lot more focus from you - understand customer scenarios, produce differentiated messaging, figure out competitive positioning, produce collateral valuable for GTM motions (self-serve or Sales), customer stories, produce in-depth content, etc.
Firstly, I'm always happy to be a resource on this subject - just ping me on LinkedIn, this is quite a meaty ask/task. I would suggest splitting product coverage between the two of you, and contract out (via consultants) anything where you need additional coverage for long-term projects i.e., partner marketing, voice of the customer work. The growing cost of an external vendor can help make the case (sooner rather than later) for internal dedicated resources.
In terms of hierachy of product prioritization, tackle the areas that will support customer activation and adoption first. Not everything all at once. Scan your support queue (tickets) and listen to calls to also get a holistic sense of business needs. Also - save your "yes's" for this most impactful projects, index on saying "no, but..." to save time and headspace.
Clear channels of ownership and a deep, relentless focus on prioritization is a must. I would have a product, product marketer on the product side in order to drive product adoption and assist in building the correct roadmap in order for customers and prospects to create stickiness and the other, on the sales and marketing side in order for a solutions marketer to help scale leads and revenue.
In one word - prioritization. In two words - ruthless prioritization.
Which products are driving sales - prioritize support there over products that aren't levers that lead purchase decisions.
Same for features - which feature sets do customers ask for and want the most - prioritize that over smaller features that won't be impacting buying decisions.
Use the same approach for adoption and retention - what does your data show? What are the products and features your customers are using the most? Invest in programs and strategies that increase their usage and help them realize the value.
This can be done by ruthlessly tiering and categorizing existing products/features and upcoming products/features that you'll be launching. In the short-term it will help you use data and insights to focus on the most-important things, say no (or not now) to things you know won't impact the business, and at the same time allow you to create the foundation for how to implement prioritization and process in the long-run.