Best Buddies — The intersection of Product Marketing and Product Management

When I was working for a Fortune 500 company a few years ago, I was exposed to the concept of Product Marketing. Actually, I was not introduced; rather, my job title was changed from product manager to product marketing manager. Actually, nothing changed in my job. It is awkward, but it is true.

My enlightenment came while I was leading a product team in a product-led Berlin startup. I met a Product Marketing Manager who was the most eloquent and visionary coworker I would ever worked with.

During this time, I discovered how effective, when done correctly, teamwork between Product Marketing and Product Management can be. We were entrusted with developing a method for team cooperation, and I would want to share what we did and what I learnt in this essay.

The Challenge:

The company was growing at a rapid pace. Communication across departments was frequently informal and depended on personal contacts or preferences. That was great when the teams just had a few people, but it was not scalable at all. People became frustrated and annoyed as a result of the structure’s inefficiencies and lack of communication between teams. So we set out to fix that.

The Goal:

We intended to create a more defined and tighter connection between Product Marketing Managers (PMM) and Product Managers (PM) in order to show a cohesive team and communication to the rest of the business and our consumers. We wished to improve the manner in which we deliver solutions to the market. Our goal was to:

  • establish a clear process on when to involve whom, when building products.
  • Have clear responsibilities between PMM and PM for different tasks and requests
  • be able to communicate requirements along the product process
  • provide guidance on required documentation, training needs etc

The Solution

In order to build a solution to our dilemma, we employed the Pragmatic Framework from the Pragmatic Marketing Institute. The original procedure was designed for corporations such as Boeing and covers the three responsibilities of Product Strategy, Technical Product Manager, and Product Marketing Manager. We found it unsuitable for our company and size, therefore we modified the model to meet our requirements.

(More details on the original process can be found here or here: PragmaticInstitute)

Here is what we did.

Step 1

To start, we separated between Marketing Launch and Product Release. This was significant to us since not all releases required a big bang and the full attention of everyone involved. We would rather identify the roadmap pieces that qualified for a Big Bang Release, often known as a Marketing Launch.

A launch was awarded to us when we had an effect on the market and were able to generate leads. As an example, imagine a large launch of a new product or service, complete with a full suite of Marketing programs such as landing pages, ads, social media, blog post, press release, Sales slides, demo, and so on.

A Product Release was characterized as one in which we focused on increasing consumer love (satisfaction). It was about the delivery of a new product or feature that clients value but that we would not extensively market because it is administrative or a market-parity feature.

Step 2

When we realized we needed to separate launches from releases, we created a list of all artifacts and ToDos for the Product Marketing Manager and Product Manager when it comes to a Big Bang Launch. The end result was a long list, which we then organized using the Pragmatic Framework described above. We came up with the following:

Step 3

In the following iteration, we examined which elements we can cut when it comes to a release. We generated a leaner version of the chart for Product Releases based on the discussions. As you can see, we primarily reduced the Product Marketing workload (grey boxes).

Learnings

The final stage was to continue testing, learning, and improving the process. As a startup, our goal was never to develop a picture-perfect method that everyone had to follow. We were adopting the method based on the feature. Sometimes we devoted more time and resources, and other times we left things out entirely. That was perfectly good. Finally, the workout was really beneficial. We learned…

  • How to improve collaboration.
  • How much effort it is on PM an PMM side to deliver a product to the market.
  • Which artifacts we need in different situations.
  • How important ownership is.
  • How even taking the time to talk about collaboration enabled us to change the way we communicate with each other.

Recommendation

If you want to fully utilize the capabilities of your PMM and PM teams, you must redefine your relationship. The more closely you grow together, the more your duties match, and the more you involve each other in your work, the better and faster you will deliver products with product market fit that customers love!

I published the framework on gumroad, so you can download and modify it. (Best thing: its free!)

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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