How Product Managers Want to Work With Product Marketers
January 31, 2019

How Product Managers Want to Work With Product Marketers

by Ron Yang

Tandem bicycles look easy. Until you hop on one, that is. Things get tricky fast. Let’s say one rider throws their weight around a corner in the wrong direction at the wrong moment. What started as a pleasant ride ends with a wobble and a crash. This coordination issue has parallels to teams that rely on each other at work — especially product managers and marketing managers.

When product and marketing are out of sync, the customer experience can take an unexpected turn.

So, how should product and marketing work together? Our marketing team at Aha! partially answered this question in a post last year, writing about how product marketers want to work with product managers. Now, it is time for the Aha! product team to weigh in on the topic.

I have spent my career in product management, so I have witnessed what can happen when the two teams get out of sync. There can be missed go-live dates, inconsistent messaging, and a general lack of focus on the customer.

At times, it may even feel like product and marketing are working against two totally different strategies.

In reality, product managers and marketers share the same goal — to create a Complete Product Experience that customers love. But in order to avoid feeling like they are working at cross-purposes, the two teams need to understand how to ride well together.

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

We want to understand your marketing goals Tell us what you are hoping to achieve in terms of customer acquisition and upcoming launches. For example, are you looking to reach new buyers or focus on up-selling or cross-selling the product to existing customers? Once we are clear on your goals, we can look for ways our own product objectives are aligned and can support your efforts. Ultimately, we are both trying to create more value for customers and the team.

We want to know about major marketing activities We know that you are busy, but we are not always clear on the exact activities you are working on. Fill us in. Tell us about the new landing page you are creating or the ads you are planning to roll out. Share your plans for an upcoming content series featuring new customers. We can likely help you make those activities even more impactful by sharing what is coming next from the product side of things. We might even be able to integrate our work more closely — for example, by promoting marketing content in-product.

We want to get your feedback We know that you advocate for the product just as much as we do. So, tell us what you think! And please be honest. Share your opinions about the new features and releases. What are you hearing from your marketing audiences? What aspects of the functionality are you most excited about? Knowing this can help inform our product work while also keeping us focused on who we are building for.

We want to sync on timing Both our teams know that timing is everything. Yet we also know that dates can shift. With all the work that gets attached to those kinds of changes, we might not be able to tell you about the latest product change as soon as it happens. That is why we need to collaborate and share schedules in one tool, so you will see updates immediately. And if we are planning for a big launch, we should do more than share our calendars — we should meet weekly to talk about the plan and review timing.

We want to hear about the results We are all working so hard every day, but sometimes it can feel anticlimactic when big efforts get done. All that energy and effort… and then what? The impact can be incremental. And we know it takes time for marketing to understand what messages are resonating with different audiences. But when you do report back and analyze the performance of campaigns and programs, we would love to hear about what worked and what did not.

Product and marketing owe it to customers — and to each other — to form a trusting relationship.

This ultimately comes down to open communication and true collaboration. Both sides need to be proactive in sharing goals, plans, and opinions. No more throwing weight around and veering off the road. To build and launch breakthrough products, we need to coordinate our strides.

How have you seen product managers work with product marketers?

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Ron Yang

Ron Yang

Ron builds lovable products. He was the vice president of product management and UX at Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software. Ron has more than 15 years of experience in entrepreneurship and leading product teams. Previously, Ron founded and sold his own company and has been on the founding team of multiple venture-backed companies.

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