5 Strategies to Integrate Product Marketing and Product Management
In today’s fast-paced business landscape, alignment between Product Marketing and Product Management is more crucial than ever. These teams play distinct yet interconnected roles in delivering successful products to market, from understanding customer needs, developing and refining the product, to launching and marketing the product effectively. Despite this, many companies need help achieving seamless collaboration between these two crucial departments, leading to miscommunications, misaligned goals, and potential missed opportunities. This blog post will explore five practical strategies to bridge this gap, including setting joint KPIs and personas, doing product blitzes, and conducting sprint planning sessions.
→ Looking for tips on how product marketing can better collaborate with campaigns? Read our post here.
Product marketing’s evolving role
I began my career in Product Marketing at Siebel Systems, a leading CRM company at the time. There, Product Marketing handled the entire product process from ideation to launch. Given this massive set of responsibilities, at one point the product marketing team ballooned to around 500 people––in a company of 4,000 employees. I love product marketers, but even to me, that seems outsized!
Expertise across audiences
On the plus side, a significant advantage of this structure was the comprehensive product knowledge it gave us. After a couple of releases, we completely understood our product, from its construction to the best marketing and sales strategies. This profound knowledge empowered us to communicate confidently with any customer, analyst, or executive, excelling in any setting.
Adapting to the agile environment
If it worked so well, why don’t we still operate that way? Well, at the time, we were still using a waterfall development methodology, which meant there were longer gaps between releases. We had time to work on both inbound and outbound product priorities, which doesn’t exist in our current fast-paced agile environment.
Why did the roles of product marketing and product management diverge?
Today, release cycles are too fast to keep up in the same way. Product marketing and product management have evolved into distinct roles requiring specific expertise and discipline. These two teams have become more specialized and siloed over time, and as a result, 39% of employees in one survey reported feeling a distinct lack of collaboration.
Uniting separate teams
That disconnect can create a communication gap and misalignment in goals between the two teams, leading to issues that include:
- Sales reps making promises the product can’t deliver
- Product marketers not having product depth, resulting in product managers tuning them out
- Inconsistent messaging across teams
- Product marketing may feel that product management isn’t building the right products
- Poor understanding of roles and responsibilities between the teams
While most teams I work with recognize the importance of alignment for success, there’s often an execution gap. However, by implementing a few key strategies, these teams can move beyond their silos, improve collaboration, and work more effectively toward their shared goals.
One of the best ways product marketers can align with product management is sprint planning. During these meetings, PMs and the development team determine the objective of the sprint, what will get built, and how it will get done. This process provides invaluable insight into not only what is being built but why.
Depending on your organization’s sprint cycles, you may want to catch each planning meeting or possibly every other one, but checking in about every four weeks is a good rule of thumb. As you plan your go-to-market strategies, include product managers in your sprint meetings. Hence, they understand how and where you’ll be launching products, what you’ll be featuring, and how you’ll be positioning and messaging to your audience.
Align with product management on a set of KPIs you can take joint responsibility for. Areas like product usage can provide fruitful ground for cooperation, as the PM will be responsible for building new products and features while you handle field and customer enablement. Another potential collaboration area can be onboarding, where you’ll be responsible for targeting and attracting new customers and the PM is responsible for a seamless onboarding experience.
QA doesn’t have to just be just about test scripts. Get the entire cross-functional product team together (PM, PMM, QA, Eng, Writers, etc.) and spend a few hours doing a product or bug blitz. The idea is to get anyone with a stake in the product to conduct ad hoc or structured testing to find functional and usability problems. As a PMM, this is a great way to get an early feel for the product, begin to think about the demo you’ll build, and decide how to position it competitively. You will also understand quickly if there are any limitations or missed expectations you will need to market around.
As product marketers, we develop personas targeting a buyer group, while product managers typically develop personas aimed at the end user. Collaboration with product management on personas results in more well-rounded and realistic personas. The buyer perspective offers insight into purchasing criteria and decision factors, while the user perspective drives functionality and usability decisions. This can help not only with improving marketing strategies but lead to building better products.
Messaging and positioning
In some organizations, product marketing owns messaging and positioning; in others, it starts with product management. In either case, working together to get the messaging and positioning nailed down is essential. The PM can ensure that key product capabilities are correctly represented, and the PMM can ensure the market, customer, and competitive dynamics are considered. Working together helps ensure a consistent approach from product across sales, marketing, and customer channels.
In the modern product landscape, one person or even an entire team can’t handle every responsibility. But with careful planning, cooperation, joint goal-setting, and collaboration on personas and messaging, PM and PMM teams can work hand-in-hand to drive success for your product and your company as a whole.
Ready to bring your product marketing and product management teams together in a powerful partnership? Let’s talk.