I try to think of our role as Contextual Educators. We’re responsible for providing the best first impression through content and being able to communicate the value of our product well enough to encourage someone to sign up or start a trial. That means testing messaging at scale across multiple audiences, evaluating and owning onboarding email sequences, and analyzing funnel metrics to update/build the ideal onboarding flow to ensure a new or existing customer is successful in achieving their jobs to be done.But our role doesn’t end at conversion, we need to educate continuously. I work closely with our business operations and data teams to find segments of customers that are using the product in certain ways that indicate they may not know about newer capabilities. Based on that research, we figure out how to engage with those customers through channels like email or in-app messaging to let them know there’s a better way. PMM focuses on landing and expanding while Sales focuses on helping those customers scale and standardize on your service.
This is pretty common. In my previous life as a PM and now as a PMM, I don’t try to manage the product team and the schedule. I try to get ahead of these challenges by announcing new capabilities while they’re in development and positioning it as “coming soon”, then continuing the drumbeat all the way from the beta release to general availability. This allows us plenty of flexibility when it comes to timelines shifting.It seems to be a common pattern across our industry too. You’ll see companies announce new features and products at their user conferences, but the products are not ready to use. However, you can sign up for the waitlist and get notified as soon as it is ready. And in the meantime, they will send you updates along the way to keep your interest piqued. I understand in some cases you’ll want to make a big splash where new capabilities are kept under wraps and press releases are shared under embargo. In this case, you might want to delay announcing anything for weeks till after the product is released internally and thoroughly tested. More and more companies are adopting feature flagging as a practice to hide functionality till it’s ready to be unveiled. It might be worth speaking with your PM and engineering leaders about similar practices.
It’s all about making sure the PMM and PM team have shared goals. And in the event an interesting opportunity arises, you can build a business case that supports accelerating achieving your shared goals. In my case, PM and PMM are aligned on revenue and adoption goals. For example, when I first started at Sentry, we had an opportunity to build a partnership with another large service that was in our space but not a competitor. A partnership would lead to perpetual distribution to their audience via their products along with features on their blogs and newsletters. However, in order for us to participate in this partnership, we had to make some changes to our product. After some analysis and working closely with the Ecosystem team, we came to the conclusion that the level of effort vs potential impact was significant enough for us to deprioritize a few other initiatives to accommodate the asks of the partner. In the end, the partnership led to a spike in sign-ups, features on multiple channels, press coverage, and a stronger relationship with a well-known company.
Here's my process, I
Once you have buy-in now the real work starts to get everyone using it. Share the final output with teams, present it at an all-hands, update all of your customer-facing content and sales enablement accordingly, and repeat frequently. It’s like unlearning an old habit and learning a new one at the same time. Repetition is key. And since you got buy-in early from Marketing leadership (your biggest advocate and messaging police) along with members of the product and sales teams the rest of the company will slowly come around because it’ll be part of the culture.