What are the key processes you'd set up when expanding the Product Marketing team from 1 to multiple people?
It is so important to have some foundational processes in place before you scale a team. Here are a few I always like to establish right away
- GTM, product launch process - this is a huge part of the role, and not having a clear process can cause confusion and misunderstanding. This is also a very cross-functional effort so it's extremely important to be clear on the role everyone plays in the process, what deliverables are expected and how to communicate as a group.
- Messaging framework - When you scale from 1 to many PMMs, you need to be on the same page about how to talk about certain aspects of your company or brand or product, or to different audiences or verticals. while you might not have the full messaging in place when you begin to hire, it's important to establish the framework itself so that when you do hire new people, they can easily contribute.
- Internal comms - Internal comms is just as, if not even more, important as external comms to customers. Often times teams fail or have a disconnect due to alack of clear communication. While this may seem trivial, it's really important to establish how to communicate with individual teams/partners but also your entire org and how to make sure everyone is aligned with what your function is focused on.
- Competitive Intel - this will look different at every company and might not be a huge priority at the moment but have a matrix of who your competitors are and which ones are the priority for your team. At some point, you will get asked and there will be a need to dig deeper, so it's important to know what to focus on and what not to focus on.
- General PMM charter - At the end of the day, you should make sure you have an overview of what your team is responsible for (and what they are NOT responsible for) and how your team is structured, how their roles are divided, and what your goals and priorities are for the quarter or the year. When new people come in, this will help them orient themselves and get ramped up fairly quickly
- Know the business forecasts for as far out as possible( preferably at least 1 year) -- overall strategy, revenue, R&D investments, headcount, budget, HR/hiring policies, etc.
- Have a vision of the team structure that aligns with this strategy
- List out the net-new roles you're planning for, prioritizing must haves vs. nice to haves
- Assign the must have roles to a timeline (order of hiring), supported by a note on why
- Shop this around to your manager and any other key stakeholder; confirm budget and timeline
You're likely in an earlier stage of buildout if expanding from 1 to multiple PMMs. I recommend to stagger hiring for 1 area of skillsets at a time to build the team's "brand" when it comes to:
- Content/asset creation (Sales and CSM)
- Launches (marketing and product)
- Pricing/packaging (Ops and Sales)
But not invest all at once unless you have strong lieutenants/leaders to help oversee. I've seen others trip and bite off more than they can chew.
Some of the low hanging fruit here would be setting up team rituals - team meetings, slack channels, team hubs, etc.
Some of the more logistical processes would include setting up a shared launch calendar to have a shared source of truth. Defining a tiering framework for launching products. Establishing areas of ownership and alignment to product and/or audience and/or sales.
Find ways to templatize work that you'll be dividing amongst yourselves - messaging guides, pricing frameworks, naming conventions, launch activities, etc.
Without knowing how many you're talking about, this is a bit of a tough question to answer with specificity, but I'd say you definitely need to create and/or revisit your operating model every time 2-3 new people join your team, especially when you're going from 1-4. Think about establishing principles for:
Who is doing what? (i.e your key functions and workstreams - I often find DARCIs help out here)
How you'll share information - (i.e. which meetings help us discuss and progress our workstreams)
Where you'll share information (email, project management tool, chat, etc)
When you'll share information (i.e. what's your preferred cadence)
How you prefer things to be done (these are your standards or best practices)
Starting with those 5 things should help you start to build a living operating model that your team can iterate on as it continues to scale.
While we’ve evolved the shape, size, timing, and application, some resources I either stood-up or leaned on as Coda’s first PMM that are still in use:
- A PMM “Hub” - Your single source of truth for all things product marketing. From “Who do I talk to about X?” to “What dashboard can I look at for Y?” to “What’s the deal with this persona?” If it’s not documented, it’s not part of your strategy. Luckily, we have a great template for Team Hubs: https://coda.io/d/Design-Team-Hub_dos6bXTG3xZ/A-beautiful-team-hub-thats-easy-to-update-and-prevents-context-s_suQXC?utm_source=slack
- A launch schedule - What’s launching, when? Share the responsibility to update with required information with your PM collaborators, and use it to keep the trains running out of the station on time. A template: https://coda.io/@shivar/rethinking-googles-famous-launchcal
- A standard launch brief - This can be used for product launches and/or campaign launches. What information do you need to plan your execution? What document helps you scale the information the rest of the company needs, on-demand? An example: https://coda.io/@codatemplates/launch-brief
- A decision-making framework - This will evolve over time, but the concept of two-way write-ups was in practice before I started at Coda, and I can’t imagine not using this system for the rest of my career. Learn more: https://coda.io/@lshackleton/two-way-writeups-coda-s-secret-to-shipping-fast
If you have these in place and hire great collaborators, the rest will follow. Personas will change. Target metrics will evolve. But if you can equip your team to find the information they need quickly in a self-serve manner, and have a way they can use that information to drive decisions and quick execution, your team will be set-up to expand to multiple contributors.
If you're expanding a PMM team, you're likely growing as a business as well.
As you grow as a business, your Product and Engineering teams are likely growing as well. This means that these teams are likely going to be releasing more features. And with more features, comes the need for broader stakeholders (Customer Success, Sales, Partners) to understand what Product is building ahead of when these features get into production.
This to me means that a fundamental process for Product Marketing to get right is launch management and how this interwines with release managment. Finding the right process that works for your company and teams so that you have a at least a 1-month understanding of what product will be releasing is critical.
With a strong communication process around release/launch (depends on your org if one/both of these fall to PMM) you will provide the key information that the go-to-market teams need from the Product organization.
Map out the various deliverables your team is responsible for. Some are consistent (launches) and others are point in time (website relaunch). List out all the stakeholders you interface with regularly: product management, Sales, Sales Enablemenrt, Marketing comms. Develop a process thats sustainable that allows you to work with each of these groups.
The biggest dependency will be on product so establish a framework and rules of engagement on how product updates will be communicated. How regularly do you meet with the team. How do you align on launch expectations. How is success defined. These all need to be accounted for, and depending on the size of the team the way you go about this will vary. But establish a process to engage with product.
Similary determine a sustainable way to enable sales. Given the make up of your team and the kind of sales enablement support you have the approach will vary. The important piece here is consistency. Sales teams are generally quite methodical in their sales process so engaging with them in a consistent way is the key to success.
For the rest of the marketing team campaign briefs that give them the product strategy and direction is the building block of setting up a good process to engage. What the rest of the marketing team needs is a means to create assets for campaigns. So the process should factor in frequency of campaigns and the types of campaigns that are run.
The most critical step is setting up a Product Marketing Operating Model. There is a lot of intrinsic knowledge that a solo PMM has that needs to be shared with any future hires. Set up your next PMM for success with templates, guides, flows, advice on internal relationship management, etc. The second step is inviting them to update the operating model during their onboarding. New people are so amazing at noticing blind spots. Use it to your advantage and help them feel like they are contributing right away.
When expanding the PMM team I think about forming GTM playbooks. It's documented step-by-step processes which you have during your launch, that helps your team stay focused, organized, and accountable. Basically, it is a manual that describes workflows, procedures, and the role each person plays during the launch.
The purpose of playbooks is to help companies run GTMs smoothly and effectively.
Main playbooks & processes I build:
- PM & PMM cooperation process, which defines how two functions cooperate before product development, while the product is in development and when it's getting ready to be launched, as well as during launch itself.
- Launch (GTM) Calendar
- GTM framework
- GTM brief
- Marketing channels playbooks
- PMM retrospective process, covering how to run retros
- PMM analytics template (post-launch)
- PMM launch results presentation