How to Build an Amazing Relationship Between Product Management and Marketing

Why is there so often conflict, friction, and even an outright adversarial relationship between a company’s product management and marketing teams? Aren’t these two departments ultimately after the same things—a successful product, happy customers, and a thriving, growing company?

In a 2019 global survey by Roadmap.com of product and marketing teams, two-thirds of product managers said that their companies manage product launches only “somewhat well.” Why the struggle?

Why is there so often conflict, friction, and even an outright adversarial relationship between a company’s product management and marketing teams?

Why is there so often conflict, friction, and even an outright adversarial relationship between a company’s product management and marketing teams?

According to the survey of over 500 people, launch failure is largely due to a fundamental misalignment between product and marketing teams. Product managers reported hurdles such as broken communication, a lack of support, and (perhaps most problematic) no unifying goals across groups.

However, product managers also reported meeting frequently with marketing. With the aforementioned hurdles, it is easy to imagine how frustrating those meetings must be for both teams. It is no wonder that go-to-market activities are suffering.

But there is a better way forward. Product and marketing teams need a purposeful go-to-market roadmap — to help bring goal-driven work, real communication, and cross-functional support to every launch. This marketing-oriented plan is typically “owned” by the product marketing team, but the creation of it should be a collaborative effort between both product and marketing teams.

Take these steps to create a unified go-to-market roadmap:

Lead with Goals for Product and Marketing Teams

Before you start any work, ask yourself what you want to accomplish with this launch. The answer will reveal your goals, and each one should be measurable and associated with a specific success metric. These goals serve as the foundation for your roadmap — showing the team exactly what the objectives are and how each one ties back to the overall business strategy.

Create Personas in Product and Marketing Teams

The two teams will be busy with separate activities, but the efforts should be coordinated — keeping everyone aligned on timing and trade-offs in case there are any delays

Personas are semi-fictional examples of your customers, created to remind everyone of who you want to reach. These personas should include basic demographics, as well as behavioral characteristics (e.g. likes, dislikes, goals). To make sure product and marketing are thinking about these personas in the same way, you should create them together. Product can weigh in on what the customer needs, while marketing can bring context for what messaging will resonate.

 Detail the Work

Go back to the goals. What do both teams need to do to achieve success? Detail the necessary activities leading up to launch day. Ideally, you capture every single thing — including updates carried out by other teams such as sales or support. Include who is working on what, along with specific dates and key milestones to keep everyone on track. Connect this work back to the goals on the roadmap so it will be clear how it is benefiting the customer.

 Consider Dependencies

The two teams will be busy with separate activities, but the efforts should be coordinated — keeping everyone aligned on timing and trade-offs in case there are any delays. For example, let’s say product discovers a bug that might delay the launch a few days. The new target date should be immediately updated on the roadmap. This will help marketing see how the change impacts their own work.

Measure Results with Product and Marketing Teams

Post-launch, you need to measure the results of your efforts. Product will likely pull stats like user-based adoption and engagement rates, while marketing will focus more on things like new website users and brand awareness. Talk about the results as one unified team — product and marketing together — so you can improve subsequent launches.

From the goals you want to accomplish to the resolute focus on your customers, teams need to align at every step — not just in the launch process. When you can get to this kind of clear alignment, you can move past the launch day and create an overall product experience that truly delights customers.

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Rana Asali