Buckle up, I've got a lot of opinions here. I think the first question PMMs should ask themselves is, what unique value do they want to provide to the roadmapping process? Oftentimes, PMMs feel like they should be included in things without having a clear POV as to why. I’ve been guilty of this. It's natural to hear hear about something that feels related to your work and wonder why you’re not there. In this situation, you need to be clear about what goes into the product roadmapping process today without your involvement, what input is already being given, and how successful the roadmap is in its current state before you come in with opinions. If you’ve done this and you spot gaps in the current process, my recommendation would be to show how you can assist in this process, rather than just asking to be included. Planning takes up a huge amount of time and it can be an uphill climb to get something finalized, which means that there’s often a certain level of concern that comes up when more people are added to an existing planning process. I often joke with my counterparts across marketing, product, and sales that I will be in a near constant planning cycle for the rest of my career. So, rather than asking for an invite without showing why we should be included, it’s always worked well for me to do a little sleuthing and proactively provide something to the team in advance of the roadmapping process.For example, if you know that the roadmapping process happens one month before the start of the quarter, you can plan to share intel and insight with the product team a few days before that process. I’d recommend focusing on how you can provide intel that doesn’t exist today, rather than trying to sway existing processes. For example, if your sales, success, and support teams are already giving product input to the team, there’s no need for you to pile on there. Instead, maybe there’s a gap in sharing the feedback you’re receiving in the community and on social channels since those customers might not be represented in the feedback the product team is receiving. Spend a few hours synthesizing the feedback and insights and offering up suggestions in a 2-3 page doc, and you’ve successfully added new, helpful, relevant intel to the process. Additionally, one thing that is often missing from roadmapping processes is competitive and market intelligence. Can you put together an overview of where we are losing to competitors based on lost deals, feedback on third party review sites, and head to head feature comparisons to help give your product team insight on some opportunities to win against key competitors? Or can you provide some market trends that are impacting your target market and a recommendation for how the product team might be able to respond? The key with these suggestions is to not be too prescriptive with how the problem should get solved, but more to map out the opportunities, provide the insight and recommendations, and start the conversation.Timing is important here. If you provide that intelligence at the right time, right before roadmapping sessions happen, it becomes a helpful input to the process and can help guide decision making. If you provide it too late in the process, the information you share might be helpful but it’s also going to feel like a potential roadblock or hurdle to getting the roadmap finalized. Once you provide this input and the roadmapping process is complete, follow up with your product counterparts to see how the intel you provided helped, what was incorporated, and what additional intel might be helpful for future roadmapping sessions. Now that you’ve shown your value, you should have more opportunity to open the door for your continued involvement in the roadmapping process.
Great question, especially for Product Marketing organizations that are still scaling to meet the footprint of much larger Product and/or Sales teams.
Although you may find your bandwidth consumed by executional activities, it's important to ensure you continue to bring market intelligence and customer understanding to product roadmap planning. A few tactics for doing this could include:
I actually answered a few questions on having a seat in the product development process in a previous Sharebird AMA on Influencing the Product Roadmap. Visit this link to check it out: https://sharebird.com/h/product-marketing/ama/manychat-sr-director-product-marketing-and-content-anna-wiggins-on-influencing-the-product-roadmap
I’ve consistently joined companies when the product marketing team was still small and establishing its influence and what I think it comes down to is providing unquestionable, unique value to the team—most often through delivering actionable customer insights.
Product marketers are acutely aware of the customer, they should be living, breathing customer research and keeping a close pulse on the trends of the market. I think product marketing really starts to earn their way into the product roadmap process when they can provide a well-informed and strategic perspective of where the company and product needs to go in order to drive further market adoption.
An age-old question: how do you get product marketing a seat at the table? Product marketing has a vital role in product and roadmap development even within a product-led organization. There are many reasons why product marketing deserves a seat at the table. Here are a few:
I understand that not all companies or product teams hold this same belief, so here are a few tips to make your case:
This is hard, Product Marketers should have even more of a hand in a Product Led Organization. Your team should be the market expert on who this is being built for and why and how do we position what we are building to impact the customers coming in. With that being said, sometimes Product Marketing does not get a seat at the table in these decisions, from here I would use your data to tell your story, your customers journey should be seamless and straight to the point so they know what they are getting. Dig deep into that customer journer, find out the places where they are falling through the cracks and when the journey starts to fail, run either a quantitative or qualitative analysis with these customer and find out what was missing. If you can put this into consumable data that the Product Team can see and this will help you impact their roadmap and they will invite you to the table. So I would suggest here to lean into ownership of the customer journey and ask how can we fix/solve/improve this and work with the Product Team to implement these changes. I encourage and in facg require my product marketers to understand the journey the customer takes through their process. If the messaging or what is being built is not resonating or you are "shipping the org chart" from a messaging or process then our team owns it and works with the necessary teams to fix it. It is hard to argue against data so use it to your advantage.