The relationship between Product Marketing and Product Management is critical. In this series, we interview Product Marketer and Product Manager pairs to learn how they work together . We get into the good, the not so good, and the lessons they’ve learned from it all.
International launch of a previously US-based ticketing platform.
Tell us your story.
Lauren: A client brought me in to work on a project where they were looking to launch in a new market. And they kind of started with that conclusion without having done some of the background research on what needed to be different in the new market versus their current market.
There was an opportunity to answer some strategic questions. How might they talk to those customers differently? What segments did they want to target? I was there to understand the product side of it and I thought this would be a great opportunity to bring in Erin as a product marketing expert to think about the market and customer side of the equation.
Erin: When I joined the project, the client was looking to take an existing platform and launch it to a completely new market. We started with some foundational things to learn about the new market. What did the competitive landscape look like? Who were they most successful with on the current platform? How do those successful audiences apply (or not) to the new market? Since it was an international market, cultural alignment on some segments that weren’t in their base market were critical to understand.
Interestingly, the competitive set was fairly global too. We noticed what was different about how they were positioning themselves in the international market, and thought about the changes we’d need to make for the client’s US-based positioning and messaging. Then we got to testing. With Lauren’s help, we put together a really quick survey to gather positioning and messaging insights that we could leverage for launch.
Lauren: The research we did really helped both of us because it also helped identify product gaps. Erin and I collaborated on the user research piece to make sure that we’re able to capture the insights that we needed for both of our pieces of work. We ended up discovering that there were a couple of additional features that we needed to add in order to support the new market, primarily around payments and compliance. As you can imagine, with a different market, there are really specific regulatory environments and related features.Those were some of those must-haves. We also identified some “nice to have” features for that market, which we added to the backlog.
Erin: And the research helped me build the Launch and the GTM plans, with an emphasis on testing.
Were there any challenges?
Lauren: I think the biggest challenge with the project was the time frame. The train was already moving, and the client had very specific dates in mind that they were trying to hit. And so we just ran to keep up with the speeding train! The two of us worked well together, which made it easier to move fast. And we knew there would be iteration for both product and marketing after launch.
Erin: We took a MVP approach to marketing for launch, and prioritized aligning messaging to the benefits the product would deliver so we wouldn’t set the users up for failure. Being closely aligned on the product roadmap gave product marketing important guidance for building a message testing strategy post-launch. To Lauren’s point, we made a plan to test and iterate so we could continuously learn and adapt.
Lauren: One thing that’s also really helpful is, from the product management perspective, sharing and communicating what the product vision is, especially when the first launch is an MVP experience. If there’s a lot of iteration that will happen over time that product marketing and the other stakeholders need to understand to inform what the GTM strategy is over time, especially what to emphasize in messaging.
If you could switch places for a day (or more) with your counterpart, would you?
Lauren: I would do it. It’s always really valuable to understand what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes and trying their role for a day would help me appreciate some of the challenges product marketers have to deal with. I think also, as a product manager, you should be thinking about how your product is communicated to your end audiences. It would force a product manager to think that way, even if just for a day or two.
Erin: And I can admit, I actually was a product manager for a period of time early in my career! It’s stuck with me. Years ago, I was heading up product marketing and I was sitting in it with my CTO and we were strategizing on a new app. I would catch myself thinking about how we would build it, and then had to remind myself not to think about the implementation details. I appreciate all that goes into thinking about building product and creating a great customer experience. And love that it’s my job to tell the story around it.
Any closing thoughts on the relationship between Product Management and Product Marketing?
Erin: We’re both very, very cross-functional roles. And we approach the world with slightly different lenses for what we’re trying to accomplish with those teams. But what we do is very complementary and great things come out of when we work well together.
Lauren: Especially because there are similarities, I think it is really important to understand the boundaries of what product management owns and what product marketing owns. What I’ve seen is that when organizations fail or feel frustrated, it’s usually because they don’t have that clarity of who needs to own what. With clear charters, working together is a lot easier.
- Product Management and Product Marketing collaboration starts early in the product development and launch process with uncovering strategic insights on the market and user.
- With an MVP and continuous iteration approach to product and GTM strategy, clear communication of product and testing roadmaps is key to success.
- Role clarity matters! Especially with closely aligned teams that have shared and complementary skill sets, team charters work best when they’re not in a silo. Take a look at our simple cross-team charter template as a starting point for how you can build an effective Product Marketing and Product Management organization.
About Lauren Chan Lee
Lauren Chan Lee is a seasoned product leader with nearly 20 years of experience at companies including Microsoft, StubHub, and Care.com. Currently, Lauren is the founder and CEO of productLivity, where she shares her expertise with companies as an interim product executive or advisor. Lauren received a B.S. in Management Science & Engineering from Stanford University and an MBA with Honors from the Kellogg School of Management. Lauren has a passion for empowering women and connecting people, and is an active speaker and mentor throughout the Bay Area product and startup community.