How Product Marketers Want to Work With Product Managers

work with product marketing

It was a big product launch. This was several years ago when I was on the marketing team at a multinational organization. We had been working hard to build out content and programs for months. All systems go. But then I heard a last-minute rumor — the new functionality might not be ready. All systems standby. What?

So, I asked a leader on the product team who bluntly responded, “Not going live tomorrow. I told my team this morning.” I was confused. I thought we were all on the same team?

When product managers and marketing are out of sync, it can create chaos for everyone — especially the customer.

This is because the customer is impacted by the entire product experience — including how it is marketed. Here is an example: Last-minute testing leads to a slight UI change on a new feature right before it launches. All those screenshots created for the marketing blog post announcing the new product capabilities are out of date.

Once the customer is let down, then it does not matter what team you are on — no one is winning.

The best way to avoid this losing proposition is for product management and marketing to work together. Not always so easy, right? Product and marketing teams have different perspectives. And it may feel as though there is simply not enough time in the day to meet cross-functionally and get updated on the latest.

But maybe both sides need to start making the relationship a priority. So, I thought I would get the conversation going from a marketer’s perspective.

Here is how product marketers want to work with product managers:

We want to see the full plan
As a product manager, you are setting the product plan — but marketing needs to understand the plan just as well as you do. What is your vision? How will the planned work make progress towards that vision? Share your product goals with us so we can align our own marketing goals to support them.

We want to know every single date (yep, all of them)
Call it being type-A, but marketing teams love schedules. It is basically a requirement of the job since marketing projects often have very specific deliverables and deadlines. So, we need to know whenever a date shifts — particularly if it is related to a big launch. Reach out to us as soon as you know something has changed. Even better, let’s collaborate in a shared calendar.

We want to share data
We spend a lot of time pulling data. (Maybe more than you realize.) Ask us! We can provide insights on the market, competitors, and prospective customers. For example, we could share a monthly report on the demographics of website visitors or which advertising channels and messages are driving the most customers.

We want to hear about your customer conversations
We do not often get the chance to speak directly to customers — but we know you do. So, fill us in on what they are saying. How did they hear about the product? What are the problems they are facing? Consider sharing your customer stories at a regular cross-functional meeting. Invite us to sit in on a new feature demo or customer call every so often so we hear first-hand.

Product and marketing are on the same team and ultimately have the same goal — to create an experience that customers love. And we all want to enjoy the work.

The responsibility is not entirely on the product managers either. Marketing teams need to make this relationship a priority too. So, if you ever find yourself grumbling, “blame marketing” or “blame product,” speak up. Ask why and find out what happened. Get engaged and stay informed.

For all of the product managers out there, now it is your turn. I want to hear from you.

How do product managers want to work with marketing?

The road to building better product starts here.

About Keith and Aha!

Keith is a product marketing pioneer. He is the VP of Marketing at Aha! — the world’s #1 product roadmap software. Previously he blazed new trails in customer acquisition strategy at RealPage [RP], a top 10 SaaS company with more than 60 products worldwide.

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Comments

  1. Sandra Hamorsky

    “All those screenshots created for the marketing blog post announcing the new product capabilities are out of date.” How I can relate to this–pretty sure there are still dents on my forehead from pounding the desk! Although to be fair, I’ve been a product manager and a product marketer, and sometimes Dev forgets to tell the product manager about schedule changes. That puts us in the dark, too. Enjoyed this blog.

    Reply
  2. Aaron R

    Great post Keith. As someone performing both roles, I don’t have a big comms problem between marketing and product, but it’s definitely made me think about how to better my communication with other teams (Hello Customer Success!) to ensure our customers receive a consistent message.

    Reply
  3. Dennis Obwoya

    Interesting post. You raised a very valid point Keith. Effective communication is vital, it can help to foster good working relationships between teams, which can in turn improve morale and efficiency resulting ultimately in a better product for the end user.

    Reply

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