HomeBlog Three Tips for Aligning Product Management and Product Marketing

Three Tips for Aligning Product Management and Product Marketing

October 27, 2016 | By Jeff Lash

  • Over the past several months, I’ve led several roundtables on how to align product management and product marketing
  • One crucial aspect of aligning these functions is a standard, agreed-upon process for innovating and bringing products to market
  • Here are three practical tips for aligning product management and product marketing that came out of these roundtables

Over the past several months, I’ve led several roundtables in different cities on the topic of how to align product management and product marketing – as the subject has attracted a lot of interest from both product management and portfolio marketing (including product, solution, segment and services marketing) leaders. These roundtables are intimate, invite-only events for our clients where we facilitate open discussion between functional leaders from different b-to-b organizations on a chosen topic of interest. 

One crucial aspect of aligning the two functions is having a standard and agreed-upon process to follow for innovating and bringing products to market. This is where the SiriusDecisions Product Marketing and Management (PMM) Model is key as a best-in-class approach to facilitating the cross-functional alignment needed to bring complex offerings to life.

Beyond that, however, there are many best practices we’ve helped companies to implement in their organization and that our clients have shared with us during roundtables. Here are three practical tips for aligning product management and product marketing that we’d like to share as a result of those sessions:

  • Clarify the value of each function. Sometimes product management and product marketing leaders who are trying to clarify roles and responsibilities just want to immediately roll up their sleeves and dive into the details around who does what and when. That certainly needs to be addressed, but we’ve often found that there is more of a fundamental lack of understanding (and sometimes respect) for what each function does. We’ve worked with a number of clients to help them clarify the value of the product management and product marketing functions. Normally, value propositions are designed to explain the value of an offering; we feel the same approach can be used internally to explain the value of the function to peers and executives. The same framework we recommend to create a value proposition (clients of our portfolio marketing and product management advisory services can access research on creating a best-in-class value proposition) for a product or offering can be leveraged to create a value proposition for both product marketing and product management. This can help get everyone within each function clear on their purpose; this is especially helpful when bringing together a disparate group after an acquisition or reorganization – in addition to aiding communication across the organization.
  • Clarify responsibilities. Another mistake we see companies making is not digging beneath the surface when discussing responsibilities around activities and deliverables. This often leads to black-and-white arguments about who “does” an activity or “owns” a deliverable. However, successful completion of nearly every activity and deliverable requires the involvement of two or more different roles within – or even outside – these three functions. A RACI matrix – also known as a responsibility assignment matrix – helps describe and clarify responsibilities and involvement of various job roles to ensure agreement across roles and a common understanding of expectations (clients of our product management and portfolio marketing advisory services have access to research on Defining a Responsibility Assignment (RACI) Matrix for the PMM Model).
  • Encourage co-location. Several clients mentioned that placing their product marketing and product management teams near each other in the office helped improve communication. One client with offices in a high-rise building previously had product marketing on the same floor as the rest of their marketing organization, and product management was located on the floor below their product development team. They moved product marketing to the same floor as product management and saw almost immediate increases in communication and improvements in collaboration. This seems pretty obvious, but it’s not often considered when designing office layouts. If you are not ready or able to move entire departments, you can use a hot desk/hoteling office management approach, where for part of the day or a few days a week you relocate a product manager or “reserve” a desk so he or she can sit near his or her product marketing counterpart and vice versa. This is challenging for companies with staff in multiple locations. However, when you are in each other’s offices, we recommend sharing an office or finding desks near each other, and possibly add an extra day or two on to the trip to provide the opportunity for serendipitous conversations to occur. 

Need more support on how to improve the alignment between your product management and product marketing teams? Contact SiriusDeicisions to learn how we can help.

Jeff Lash

Jeff Lash is Vice President and Group Director of Go-to-Market at SiriusDecisions, where he leads the Product Management and Portfolio Marketing Research and Advisory Services. A recognized thought leader in product management, he has over 15 years of experience in product management, product development, product marketing, and user experience design. Follow Jeff on Twitter at @jefflash.

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