B2B marketing teams today share many of the same responsibilities as Product Management. From backend infrastructure and analytics projects to website development and interactive product guides, marketers are in effect building technology products to solve user problems and achieve business goals.
Too often, however, marketing teams struggle to focus on what matters most and end up delivering technology that doesn’t move the needle in the right direction.
With this in mind, here a few ways that our marketing team uses Wizeline to run like a product team. Regardless of whether your team uses the Wizeline platform, you can apply these best practices to save time, identify the biggest needs and get more successful products across the line.
(Pressed for time? Read the TL;DR version below.)
Goals are fundamental to every business function. For product managers, near-term goals might outline objectives for actually delivering specific features and functionality — longer term goals might outline targets for monthly active users, infrastructure performance gains or revenue.
In a similar vein, marketing teams that build technology should set goals for both delivery and impact. If we were going to build, say, a new and improved knowledge base for our customers, we’d want to first define the requirements and acceptance criteria for delivery. What customer problems will we solve by creating a new online portal? Which features are must have versus nice to have? What milestones need to be hit before we fulfill all acceptance criteria? Approximately when will the product be delivered?
These delivery goals keep the team focused tactically on getting the project across the line — but they do almost nothing for aligning our group around a desired outcome. The worst thing you could do is plow three weeks of development effort into a new knowledge base that gets terrible reviews — or isn’t used by any of your customers. This is why creating simple, specific and measurable goals for impact is so important.
In this example, a few goals come to mind:
- In the first 30 days after launch, gain 5,000 unique visitors
- Attain an average session length over this one-month period of at least two minutes
- Receive at least 3 pieces of qualitative positive feedback from customers via our customer success team
Ideas are the lifeblood of your company — the more good ideas you’re able to generate and deliver on, the more successful your team will be. The problem is, most teams lack a repeatable process for receiving, validating and prioritizing the multitude of ideas and requests that arise in the normal course of business. As a result, ideas inevitably slip through the cracks. Remember that great idea from that random lunchtime conversation three weeks ago? Didn’t think so…
Step one to better idea management: centralize all the ideas and requests from your team and customers in a single place. There’s no such thing as a bad idea — accept them all. And be sure to capture ideas both actively and passively. Active capture means you ask stakeholders directly for their input — corner them at the watercooler, if you have to. Passive capture means you give stakeholders the option to submit ideas and requests whenever they like.
At Wizeline, we let our team submit ideas via Salesforce, email, Slack and directly within the Wizeline platform — the faster and more frictionless you can make idea submission, the better. Once submitted, these ideas are queued in a central location and in standard format.
Throughout the week, our team reviews and ranks ideas based on importance, urgency and strategic value. If anything is deemed super urgent, we prioritize it immediately and start work. Otherwise, we do a weekly standup to review, validate and prioritize ideas — these comprise the grist for our stakeholder-generated marketing team roadmap.
Planning & Prioritization
Many teams make the mistake trying to prioritize ideas at the moment when they’re received. This can become a quagmire where you end up committing to things before you’ve even had a chance to assess them. Plus, the whole point of capturing all the ideas is to gain a comprehensive view of what all your stakeholders need. This is impossible if you’re unable to review someone’s idea or request in the context of all others.
At Wizeline, if five stakeholders submit an idea for the same thing, we’ll take notice — frequency is a good indicator of demand among our stakeholders. We look to other data available within the Wizeline platform — such as requester or customer name, revenue potential and more — to help guide our prioritization decisions. And we might even run a quick survey asking our stakeholders to select their top priorities.
Key to our prioritization process is asking the following questions:
- Will this idea help us address a pervasive stakeholder or customer need?
- Will this idea help us achieve our business goals?
These are two questions that every product manager asks themselves on a regular basis — marketers should do the same.
At Wizeline, we’re big proponents of transparency and active communication. Here are three ways we practice what we preach.
Closing the loop
We take advantage of Wizeline’s automated email alerts to let our internal stakeholders know when their idea has been prioritized or deferred. Alerts also go out when projects — or products — are delivered.
Our team runs two-week thematic sprints, which are visualized on a roadmap that we share with the entire company. We use simple, descriptive language to let our stakeholders know what we’re working on — and how much progress we’ve made.
Standups aren’t just for engineers. We hold 15-minute sessions to make sure we’re aligned and not blocked across UX designers, engineers, product marketing and digital market teams.
Here’s the synopsis…
- Get all your team’s ideas in one place — automate, if possible
- Make super easy for your team to submit ideas
- Resist the temptation to prioritize ideas when you receive them — keep the processes separate
Planning & Prioritization
- Use data to prioritize intelligently and focus on the biggest wins
- Look for measures of importance, urgency and pervasiveness
- Close the loop: let stakeholders know when you reject or prioritize their idea
- Set goals for delivery and impact
- Quarterly goals map to monthly goals, which map to weekly goals
- Simple, measurable goals trump vague ones
- Be responsive and close the loop with stakeholders — even if you’re deferring their request or idea
- Use language your stakeholders will understand
- Share visual roadmaps and actively update your entire team