All related (44)
Christy Roach
Head of Portfolio & Engagement Product Marketing, AirtableNovember 17

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.

Clara Lee
VP, Product & Operations (WooCommerce), AutomatticOctober 4

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:

  • Going direct. Find out where/how roadmap decisions are made, and request to be included those meetings and forums. If that doesn't work...
  • Conducting customer outreach. Being the bearer of customer voices - speaking their needs, using their own words - can be incredibly powerful. Hopefully your Product team will see value in this.
  • Creating a research roadmap. PMMs may have more research exposure than some other functions; offering up these special skills may inspire reciprocal openness.
  • Engaging smartly. Even if you're seeing the roadmap after-the-fact, sharing actionable, meaningful feedback can help others see value in including PMMs in earlier-stage discussions.
Anna Wiggins
Sr. Director Product Marketing, BlueVineJanuary 16

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:

Kacy Boone
Head of Growth Marketing, ClockwiseJuly 29

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.

Claire Maynard
Marketing, MagicalFebruary 9

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:

  • Product narrative drives product roadmap: The product narrative should drive the product roadmap, not the other way around, and product marketers are the storytellers behind the product.
  • Voice of the customer, sales, and market: Product marketing can act as the voice of the customer (as mentioned in your question), represent sales, and be an expert on the competitor/market.
  • Connect the dots cross-functionally: Product marketing understands the GTM process - the customer adoption journey, the components of a successful launch, and they connect the dots across the various GTM teams who execute those launches.
  • Distribution: On my new products team at Atlassian, we encourage teams to think about distribution from day one. Distribution should not just be the marketing team's job but the entire team's responsibility. Having product marketing at the table ensures the team thinks about intelligent distribution early in product development.

I understand that not all companies or product teams hold this same belief, so here are a few tips to make your case:

  • Bring something of value. Don't expect to be invited to the table if you don't have something valuable to add to the conversation. Look for areas that the product team is not paying attention. Hint: product teams often speak to existing customers. Start listening to your non-customers e.g. customers of alternative products have heaps of good intel on why they didn't select you and what you could build to make them convert.
  • Take on metrics or OKRs: If you have skin in the game, teams will likely see you as a strategic team member with the same aligned motivations.
  • Bring the market perspective: Product teams tend to think about what to build for the customer but less so about what and how to gain attention in the market. Launch timing, product differentiation, delightful features, or compelling stories often gain more attention from the media and the market. Show your product team how they can grow faster with strategic launch planning.
Aaron Brennan
Head Of Product Marketing, RedoxApril 6

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.

Priya Gill
Vice President, Product Marketing, Momentive
Funny enough, this was completely a Marketing led rebrand. Product roadmap didn't play a role in guiding the process because we already had the right set of products, we just didn't have the right message or name in the market. An important part of this repositioning was strongly signaling to the market that we are no longer just a surveys company. This has actually been true for a while, but even our own customers had little awareness of some of the other products in our portfolio. But it’s hard to convince the outside world that we’re more than a surveys company with a name like SurveyMon...
Brianne Shally
Head of Product Marketing, Nextdoor
Sharing the product roadmap externally is a great way to share the company's vision, investment in innovation, and upcoming features to get prospects and customers excited about the potential. It can be a strong selling tool to get prospects on board and a resource to get current customers to invest more. What's important is that the roadmap isn't standing on it own, but partnered with an overall vision to show how product efforts later up to a great vision. This is where Product Marketing can play a strong role in storytelling and positioning to bring it all together. I've seen this execut...