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What's your framework to prioritizing needs/deliverables when you're the first Product Marketer at a company establishing the function?

19 Answers
Gregg Miller
Gregg Miller
Oyster® VP of Product MarketingOctober 8

At Zapier I approached this by starting with a mission statement to describe why our team exists and the work we aim to uniquely do for the company: “PMM exists to maximize Zapier’s market opportunities by (1) clarifying where we win and (2) driving GTM strategy for product success.” I then defined responsibilities that align to (1) like TAM, market segmentation, personas, positioning, competitive analysis, etc. and separately to (2) like working with Product validate market opportunities, designing and executing betas that ensure product/market fit, and of course planning and executing launches. Lastly, I made sure to socialize this charter around the org to ensure awareness and buy-in that this was the direction we were heading as a team.

This is a very different scope from what PMM was doing when I joined — I often talk about it as charting a course from PMM 1.0 to PMM 2.0 with the expectation that getting to the full potential of PMM 2.0 will take quarters if not years. Thus when it comes to prioritization, I’m always asking myself “where do I see a combination of ripe business context, willing partners/stakeholders, and PMM team capacity for us to tackle an initiative that will take us more in the direction of PMM 2.0?” This requires hard prioritization conversations with stakeholder teams where we say no to some requests that come in in order to create the space for the bigger, more strategic efforts that pay long-term dividends. But without those tough conversations, the team wouldn’t ever get to PMM 2.0.

3976 Views
JD Prater
JD Prater
Graft Head Of MarketingJanuary 7

This can definitely be a challenge whether you're the first or tenth PMM at a company. I'm a fan of working backwards from the customer, rather than starting with an idea for the product team or from the sales team. From there, I like to ladder needs/deliverables up to team goals and business goals (impact). Then I'll stackrank them based on perceived effort of the deliverable. 

Essentially, I'm creating an 2X2 grid based on business impact and perceived effort to complete the task.

7435 Views
Mandy Schafer
Mandy Schafer
Mastercard Director of Product MarketingJune 15

I'm going to talk about my experience at really early stage companies, at this point, everyone is doing everything, so the priority is to create some strcuture to help every get aligned on the same goals. When I’ve been the first Product Marketer, or only one establishing the PMM function the first thing I do is meet with sales, product and the rest of marketing to identify the gaps. Generally is there's that piece missing between Product and marketing/sales to message what has been built, and so forth. To solve for this I start building out a a messaging map to help define what our core persona is, the main problems we are solivng for and what are key messages should be. I also use this messaging map to help structure out how we should talk about our features by grouping like features and ideas together 

This map creates the foundation requirements I need to help starting to
1) Build collateral with your marketing and sales teams
2) Create a cohesive narrative across the company to help keep everyone aligned.
3) Set up the foundation of how you want to structure the PMM team as it aligns to the product and features that your company offers. This will help you build out additional PMM roles and define responsibilities as your company grows.

1662 Views
Sharadhi (Gadagkar) Patel
Sharadhi (Gadagkar) Patel
Handshake Director, Product MarketingJune 1

As mentioned before, product marketing is one of the most cross-functional roles of any in most companies. And as such, you’ll be getting requests for projects and deliverables from every angle. The first thing I try to understand is: what responsibilities fall under me vs. another team (ie: is there a separate pricing team? Enablement team? Market research team?)

Once my purview is clear, I put together a Product Marketing Charter (my PMM mission, PMM pillars, responsibilities under each pillar) to share with my stakeholders, to help structure our conversations around what is top of mind for them and where they need support. I like to create a table of all these requests, the stakeholders who have requested them, and understand the effort level of each request. More often than not, you’ll start to see overlapping requests or challenges across multiple teams. That’s where I like to focus first, to help make the biggest impact with the limited time or resources I have.

3964 Views
Sarah Khogyani
Sarah Khogyani
Coinbase Head of Product Marketing, CloudMay 25

First, I listen. It's important to understand in depth why these needs/deliverables are being asked of Product Marketing. What is the underlying problem? How can Product Marketing solve this? 

Then, I assess company goals and revenue by product. The Product Marketing function is meant to support the company goals and I find that using this as a guidepost for prioritization is key. Assessing revenue by product helps as another factor in prioritization, but isn't the only factor as some companies may prioritize growth of a new product rather than optimizing their existing successful one.

From there, it's an exercise of documenting the asks and prioritizing what will make the most impact in terms of supporting company goals and return on investment. Alignment with leadership and communicating these priorities internally is a great way to keep your team focused on the most impactful work.

1480 Views
Jasmine Anderson Taylor
Jasmine Anderson Taylor
Instacart Senior Director, Product MarketingJune 1

Only a few weeks into my current role, I’m living this one in real-time! For myself, I’ve created the following approach: Listen → Set Expectations → Execute → Close the Loop. For prioritizing needs/deliverables, I spend as much time as possible listening and understanding what is most pressing for the business immediately (and then mid and longer term). The key here is to determine where the business needs product marketing the most. When you’re the first PMM, it can be incredibly natural for everyone to welcome you on to their project -- there will be so much product marketing to do! So it’s important in the early days that you never bite off more than you can chew and no one is under the impression that you’ll work on more than you feasibly can.

Perhaps you’re coming in during planning, then you’re focused on helping identify key insights that can help shape the roadmap. If you’re coming in mid-stream, then you dive in to try to strengthen the most immediate and high stakes launches. Often it’s a mix of both. Wherever you’re coming into the cycle, choose these initiatives intentionally and ensure key partners agree with your prioritization.

From there, it’s about flawless execution and communicating internally as projects reach milestones and meet objectives.

2419 Views
Andy Schumeister
Andy Schumeister
Sourcegraph Director of Product MarketingJune 8

I generally use a modified version of the Eisenhower Matrix (I just learned the name). On the spectrum of "not urgent to urgent" and "not important to important," you should prioritize the deliverables/needs that are both urgent and important. When you're the first product marketer, it's easy to fall into the trap of just prioritizing the urgent needs without evaluating the relative importance. 

When you're building out a new function, spend time meeting with the teams you'll be working with to understand their pain points and needs. Then, layer in your understanding of which pain points/needs product marketing is uniquely fit to support and create a plan. This will help you understand the urgency and importance of the various opportunities.

Document your thoughts and share them broadly to confirm you're tackling the right things and in the right order of priority. Having a shared/common understanding of priorities will make it easier to justify why you are/aren't working on something.

More importantly, give yourself time to build out the function. If you reactively tackle every request that comes your way, you won't be able to build the foundation that you need to be successful or spend time hiring the right team.

1055 Views
Jessica Webb Kennedy
Jessica Webb Kennedy
Tailscale Head Of MarketingJune 16

As stated above, PMM wears so many hats it's important to recognize what is needed at any stage of a company. When first coming into an organization as the first PMM I think the most important thing to do is establish what does and doesn't exist. I think this is the right order of things that should happen first but if you come into an organization and feel that some of these things are already in a good place you can skip to the next step. That being said, when you are new to a company you have a fresh and unbiased perspective that only lasts for a few months - use those fresh eyes to your advantage! Write down all of your thoughts and learnings so you can look back at them later.

1. Interview internal stakeholders

2. Interview end-users

3. Competitive analysis

4. Align on and/or tweak the positioning

5. Sales enablement 

6. Design GTM plans

1186 Views
Jasmine Jaume
Jasmine Jaume
Intercom Director, Product MarketingOctober 26

I don't have a set framework as such, but this is the approach I'd take:

  • Meet with stakeholders across the business to understand what's working, where the gaps are that PMM might be able to fill, and ask what they think is the highest priority. Ask lots of questions to understand what the underlying need/problem is, as the 'solution' people ask for might not always be the best way to solve the problem or might be better solved by another team. This is also a great opportunity to start educating others on what PMM does and how they should expect to work with you, if it's a new function. Identifying some small 'quick wins' can help establish your credibility and build relationships with those stakeholders. 
  • Understand the business strategy and goals. This will help you know what you're working towards, and then you can prioritise needs based on whether they will help towards those goals. 
  • Get to know your customers and your market. As well as understanding the pain points internally, it's also helpful to understand your current position in the market, how your product is perceived, how you stack up against competitors, what your customers say about you and so on. This should help you identify the highest priority areas - especially where these align with internal needs (for example, if your sales team is complaining you are losing deals to a specific competitor, and then you also find that the market doesn't know how you're differentiated, that may be a sign that you need to strengthen your messaging and enablement against that competitor)
  • Think about what you want you and your team to be focused on. It's easy for PMM to end up as a 'catch all' and end up doing a ton of things that aren't really product marketing, especially if the marketing team overall is small. That might be what the business needs at that time, and that's ok, but knowing where you want to get to will help you advocate for more resources and moving that work out of the team in the longer term. 
2282 Views
Jennifer Kay Corridon
Jennifer Kay Corridon
Yelp Product Marketing Expert & MentorOctober 12

Every company and every growth stage is different so the evaluative framework you utilize needs some flexibility. I recommend that your framework is developed in tandem with your partner stakeholders early on and is communicated often. A reliable framework includes a clear organizing principal, inputs, outputs/ impact, measurements, and timelines. As a first product marketer, I'd also advocate including a line item for dependencies and cross functional asks. Once you start building momentum in an organization, the asks come in quickly and from multiple directions. Your framework will allow you better yield management and help you organize and prioritize where you dedicate your efforts.

780 Views
Jason Oakley
Jason Oakley
Klue Senior Director of Product MarketingJanuary 5

I'm still trying to master this one, but here's what I'm doing at Klue (I'm in my first month at the company). 

Create your PMM Charter

With the input of your boss and other leaders in the company, you'll first want to define what PMM looks like at your org. This helps set the guardrails for what product marketing is repsonsible for at your org and what your main objectives are. This will take into consideration what the top priorities are for company leadership.  

Set out on a priority finding mission

In your first month or so, you have the opportunity to have a ton of 1:1 conversations as a new employee. During these conversations, I ask everyone if they have any priorities or asks for product marketing. I use all of this to create a master list of all the internal priorities/projects that people would "like" my team to focus on. 

I also like to do a content audit, focusing on all of the collateral that's leveraged throughout the sales cycle. I'll map the existing assets to the sales process and try to uncover gaps, or things that need updating. 

After all of the steps above, you'll likely have a sizeable list of competing projects that you need to prioritize. Some factors to include in how you weight each project:

  • What impact can this have on revenue and how soon?
  • Is it tied to an existing deadline, like an upcoming product launch?
  • Who is requesting it? Is the CEO asking for this, or is it a one-off request from a sales rep? 
  • Does it fall within your charter, or is it outside the scope of product marketing at your org?
  • Where does it fit into your strategic objectives for that year, quarter, etc. 

I would map this all out in a spreadsheet or project board and circulate it between a few key stakeholders in the company, ie. your boss, Head of Product, Head of Sales, Head of CS, the CEO, etc. You could even send them the raw list and ask them to rank it in terms of priority. 

Using this feedback I'd create your final, prioritized project list. They key is to then make it available to everyone in your company so everyone can see where things fall and why. 

5071 Views
Natalie Louie
Natalie Louie
ICONIQ Capital Product & Content MarketingJanuary 11

I start with my phases of success for a PMM in my first 100 days here. Through this process I create my priorities and ensure I have executive alignment on them. I always get feedback from my leadership team.

I find that people often want the same thing but are saying it differently – identify this when it happens to bring alignment back on your priorities. Before any cross-functional meeting to get alignment or approval, make sure you’ve already shown your ideas to one or more people to get their advanced feedback and buyin. Some people, especially leaders have other context you don’t have. This is key to getting successful alignment.

Also look here on how to build internal consensus on what you want to deliver. 

719 Views
Meredith Davis Shields
Meredith Davis Shields
LendingClub VP, Product MarketingJuly 26

Chances are you will inherit a number of projects in queue Day 1. Do your best to deliver on those projects to drive results out of the gate. This will instantly help you build credibility with colleagues. That said, start thinking about a learning agenda for each of your org's big areas. At Chime we have built LAs for banking, credit, liquidity and insurance. The PMMs on my team work lock step with PM, UX, etc. to translate Chime's goals into a series of powerful initiatives twice a year. From there they set up a series of experiments and /or new feature - product launches. They work together to 1- knowledge map existing insights and data to inform the LA and 2- outline what is still left to learn. They then sequence the work. Having a formidable LA for each "vertical" really helps everyone with a single point of truth document. New opportunties, partnerships, scope will inevitably crop up. Having really solid LAs will help you more easily re-negotiate the work within each agenda and have thoughtful conversations with your partners ala, "Is [blank] now higher leverage than [blank] or do we stay the course, look for additional resourcing and capacity or backlog something else to make it happen?"

1045 Views
Alex Wagner Lavian
Alex Wagner Lavian
Origin VP of MarketingDecember 20

As a first PMM hire it's important to prioritize needs and deliverables based on the overall goals and objectives of the company. Do “discovery” similar to how you would approach a product launch – get up to speed on the business, the competitive landscape, the customer, and the product. This will help you understand the biggest opportunity areas and align your efforts with the company’s goals to maximize impact.

In addition to listening & learning from your stakeholders its also important to educate your partners on the role of PMM, PMM’s superpowers, and the metrics you are accountable for. This will provide your peers with context on how to partner with you and give you a chance to share back the projects you’ll be prioritizing and gather feedback on that plan to ensure you are working on the most impactful things.

3195 Views
Christine Sotelo-Dag
Christine Sotelo-Dag
ThoughtSpot Director of Product Marketing, ModeJanuary 19

As a first (and oftentimes only) product marketer at a company, prioritization is the mother of all skills. The framework I would apply is a natural extension of the 30/60/90 day plan outlined above. Prioritization can only come once there is a decent amount of work done to understand the current state and needs of the business, and your fellow cross-functional counterparts. That said, there are some tangible and practical ways to approach prioritization. 

1. Build out your team (functional) charter as a first step. How do you define your function, the areas you will focus on, the roles and responsiblities that fall within, how you measure success and how you collaborate with your cross-functional peers. Use this as a map to what projects you'll take on, and what projects you'll thoughtfully and respectfully say no to. 

2. Have a clear understanding of the priorities and goals of the business overall, and specifically the wider marketing team. Your priorities should align to these areas. If the business has decided to strategically focus on the Enteprirse market, your prioritized deliverables should include how you will position your product to that market. 

3. Leave space to build the foundations. If you are the first PMM, it is likely there are not a lot of processes or frameworks in place that set a PMM up to be effecient in the future. Give yourself the time and space to build these out. For example, building a launch framework and GTM templates for announcing new features and products. Defining with product and sales teams how you will work together. etc. If you jump into pumping out deliverables, you may end up positioning yourself and the PMM function as a service hub, rather than a strategic partner. 

3. Capacity plan. As the only PMM, it can feel overwhelming at times to tackle all things - at once. Set clear and firm boundaries for yourself so you are not burning the midnight oil, and then plan your weeks, months, and quarters based on your capacity. What low hanging fruit is there - projects that take little time and resources that can deliver an impact - and how many of those can you take on, while still building out the foundations. Scope out how many meatier projects you can take on - and capacity plan with teams you may need to partner with. Things will not always go to plan, dates may slip and scope may creep - but starting with a plan will help provide guardrails to keep you on track to delivering impact. 

907 Views
Jeff Hardison
Jeff Hardison
Calendly Head of Product MarketingJanuary 10

In the last couple of companies, what I've done is create a slide that shows the academic definition and jobs to be done in product marketing: research, positioning/messaging, etc.

Then, I host meetings with stakeholders, and show them the slide, ask them what they have experience with product marketing handling, what they liked, didn't like, and so on. Then, I ask them what they need help with going forward in our company. That input helps inform how I prioritize the team.

It's important to have these alignment meetings each quarter, as needs change, new leaders join, and the company's objectives/strategies shift.

459 Views
Sean Lauer
Sean Lauer
Instruqt VP of MarketingDecember 20

As the first PMM hire, you will need to do your research before you can prioritize needs. Here's a three-step plan that should guide you to success:

  1. Talk to stakeholders: As a PMM, you are the connective tissue between product, marketing, and sales. Get to know these stakeholders. Understand their goals and their needs.

  2. Crunch the numbers: Understand historical revenue and user growth deeply. Sometimes, what people tell you is different from what the numbers tell you. Get as much data as you can to make informed decisions.

  3. Have a point of view: Most of the time, there are many top priorities. If you communicate your plan with conviction, you will get more people behind it. Let people know why you've prioritized one thing ahead of another.

385 Views
Julien Sauvage
Julien Sauvage
Clari VP, Brand, Content and Product MarketingNovember 29

Know your company's OKRs/ biggest bets and pains. Then align to that.

Embark on a listening tour with Sales, CS, product, C-suite etc.

And build your plan off that.

The plan should contain things like:

Vision, Values, Success metrics, Big Bets, where each pillar has a few programs underneath, Dependencies and obstacles, Out-of-scope, RACI, budget

436 Views
David Bressler
David Bressler
BackBox Director, Product MarketingFebruary 9

Part of starting a new role and establishing a new function is adding value. They hired you with specific needs in mind, but you should develop your own with a 30/60/90 day of getting deeper in the company.

  1. Do what they hired you for which involves listening and understanding the various teams and priorities.

  2. Develop an opinion on what's needed. I'd suggest that at a company without product marketing there are three consistent problems:

    1. The website messaging is unclear

    2. Sales people each have developed their own version of the company story / solution

    3. Demand gen is a bunch of disconnected (from each other) activities, so there's no momentum building on top of a common messaging framework

  3. Start to prioritize from the above list, and deliver some value - maybe it's clarified messaging. Maybe it's unifying the sales team. But, deliver something that brings people together around where you (and the executives) believe the company is going.

This is the playbook I used as a founding product marketer in my current role, and it was amazing how quickly things could get done when there was focus on a few key objectives. I was hired specifically with content generation in mind and an emphasis on sales enablement. That meant I developed a framework for the content, looking for gaps on what already existed, and had ready access to sales (because that's what they hired me for).

Over the following months, the content framework evolved into a full-on messaging framework for the company, and at least now when people go to our website they know what we do!

On top of that, the content and messaging have been executed not only through direct sales and partners, but also through our PR efforts and analyst relations (which both also fall under my responsibilities). So we have built a lot of momentum through sales, PR, and analysts.

Finally, on thing I wish I'd done sooner... I wish I had more "launches". Meaning, I wish I had taken the product releases and turned them into larger messaging initiatives and aligned that with PR and demand gen sooner.

253 Views
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