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How to get buy-in for your Product Marketing plans—Part 1 of PMM with Julie Taylor

Welcome to part 1 of a multi-part series all about Product Marketing. Introhive’s Director of Product Marketing, Julie Taylor, will guide you through the ins and outs of creating a product marketing group from scratch. You might want to check out the introduction to the series if you haven’t already.

Drawing upon her own experience and extensive research, Julie will let you in on all (well, almost all) of her trade secrets about essential PMM programs, and pass along all the lessons she’s learned along the way to building a successful team that made the finalists in this year’s Product Marketing Awards.

In this instalment, Julie talks about how to start building from the ground up, including winning your own people over to your side—because internal champions are just as important as buyer champs.

Product Marketing is not a silo unto itself

Chances are, if you’re in PMM you work across a ton of internal organizations: product, customer success, support, development, sales, sales engineering, sales enablement, the broader marketing org, public relations, social media…phew, that was a mouth full.

So! Before you go start building out net-new programs, you will likely need to ask for someone’s permission, or at least get people excited about what the program could do for your organization. In our case, we work primarily with customer success, product management, and sales leadership to kickstart new initiatives. 

It’s fantastic to collaborate, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve learned that if you don’t approach the conversation right, then it could be shot down or significantly slowed down. It’s happened to me, and it’s frustrating, and you just want others to get onboard because you know the potential of this new idea. 

So a lot of it comes down to the pre-planning and communication when broaching a new subject. I have tried many many methods (and trust me, not all of them have worked)… so here are my trade secrets and formula for successful buy-in and developing thick skin along the way.

Julie’s top 10 trade secrets for getting buy-in to your programs

  1. First you need to understand your stakeholders, what personality bucket they fall into. One we use here at introhive is called DISC – dominant, influencer, conscientiousness, or steady. Do they need detail and process, do they prefer verbal comm, are they idealistic, results-driven, or analytical? This goes a long way into how you present, what angle you take, and how much & what information you provide.
  2. Second – what motivates each stakeholder. Here you need to establish the link between the project, company goals, and how that relates to their area of the business. Is it revenue? Is it customer experience? The nice thing is you don’t need to do this in a vacuum – this can be a direct dialogue.
  3. You should also capture the existing gap you’re trying to solve for. This may not be widely known across the group. The goals of the proposed project and it’s potential evolution or expansion, should be defined. They don’t need to be set in stone, but something to measure success.  Also, make sure you’re including proposed budget and timelines.
  4. Be transparent about any issues that may be of concern. If you write down potential roadblocks or risk ahead of time, it gives them comfort to know you’ve thought this through and are being realistic.
  5. Consider calling it a Pilot to set expectations properly, and then given freedom to optimize throughout.
  6. In advance of your meeting, send a pre-read, or carve out 5 minutes of the call for people to quickly scan through. Turn the volume up for this tip. When you do come to the table – come with a couple potential solutions, not just one that is pre-defined. The best part about working cross-functionally is that everyone has a diverse opinion and viewpoint into the business. Take advantage of that.
  7. During your conversation, you should land on a solution as a group that makes the most sense. Next steps and a RACI model are key to keeping a plan on track. Make sure stakeholders understand their contribution to a project.
  8. Reaffirm goals and communicate progress throughout execution. This information is useful in ensuring stakeholders are engaged from the beginning of a project to close. Don’t overbook or waste people’s time, somethings are best accomplished with a quick email. 
  9. If this is a on-going program, look at doing a periodic pulse or efficiency check, look for areas that need to be tweaked or rethought. If it’s got a clear end date – make sureeee you do a Post Mortem – what worked, what didn’t. 
  10. And finally, communicate results! Celebrate them. I’ve gotten caught in the past where we didn’t socialize good results because we didn’t want to brag or we didn’t want to chew up peoples calendars. Do it anyway. At least write an email. It’s your time to celebrate. If it failed – still communicate, there are always lessons to be learned.

If you are consistent, intentional, transparent – it goes a long way in establishing trust. Once you’ve got trust – now, that’s the gold. Every program or campaign you want to push forward will be received with more excitement and ease. So go forth and create!

Can’t get enough of Julie? Good news!

If you’re enjoying this peek under the hood for how to get your Product Marketing career and team up and running, we have good news: there’s more! Next up Julie covers the all-important competitive intelligence, and while you’re waiting for the rest of the series you should also take a peek at more from Introhive’s Product Marketing group.

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