The purpose of a product marketing roadmap is to generate revenue from existing solutions. A roadmap is a visual representation of a product marketing plan, highlighting the go-to-market campaigns and programs to internal stakeholders. The primary objective is to align everyone around the goals and the timing of what you will deliver.
The roadmap identifies the best verticals/companies to target and aligns them with corresponding solutions. It also articulates the value proposition and empowers sales to close the opportunities, using demand-generation campaigns.
What goes into a Product Marketing Roadmap?
There are a number of layers that go into the creation of a roadmap. Each of the following elements need to be included for it to be an effective marketing tool;
- Key themes/messages
- Status of activities
At Soprano, having a product marketing roadmap enables us to plan in advance when a product is being launched or enhanced. Everything is mapped to a date, so we know exactly when we need to train the sales team/channel partners, create collateral and ensure the information on our website is accurate and up-to-date. It also enables us to deliver timely campaigns. As an example, this could be creating an omnichannel demo for customers at an event, or providing a sales deck on the benefits of enterprise messaging for crisis communications. Having a roadmap adds structure to our marketing plan and helps us to prepare in advance.
Three of the most common reasons for a roadmap failure are;
- The roadmap remains static and isn’t updated/developed – it becomes worthless and redundant.
- The roadmap is communicated inconsistently and no one knows when projects are in development or launched. No feedback or reporting is given after campaigns to determine the success of the roadmap.
- The programs/themes and campaigns don’t align correctly to the market and sales teams fail to adopt the roadmap.
The good news is that there are warning signs of an ineffective roadmap – you just have to know what you’re looking for. Some common ones are;
- Goals that have been outlined in the roadmap are not being achieved.
- The roadmap hasn’t been updated in months – programs and campaigns are being launched that never featured on the roadmap.
- Having too many tactical details in the roadmap – if it’s too detailed it won’t spur enthusiasm amongst the team and people will not follow it.
Another thing to be aware of is creating unrealistic targets. This is one of the key reasons that roadmaps fail. Limited budget, limited resources or setting impractical goals can all contribute to this. As part of maintaining a roadmap document, it’s important to review progress towards goals on a regular basis and determine what needs to be done to achieve them. If the original goal was too unrealistic, regular reviews and internal discussion should enable you to rectify this in time and set an achievable target.
Always be mindful too that a roadmap that doesn’t resolve current pains and issues felt in the market may also miss targets. In order to structure an effective roadmap, you should conduct industry research, analyse usage data, and work closely with sales to better understand what customers want or need from the product. It’s vital that what’s in the product marketing roadmap addresses real needs with relevant use cases. Prospects and customers are much more likely to give us their time and attention if we’re relevant to them.
Advice for Defining a Consistent Roadmap Management Plan
From my experience, the following tips help to create a cohesive roadmap that everyone involved can follow and complete.
- Create a live document that’s available online. This reduces the chance that multiple versions of the document exist and ensures there is one single source of truth to view the roadmap. Being available online will make it easier to keep up-to-date and accurate. You can also keep track of changes and see exactly who made them.
- Communicate the roadmap to your sales department often. Inform your sales team on progress and let them know the outcomes of programs. Ensure they are aligned with the roadmap by referencing it in catch ups and meetings to reaffirm positioning and the product marketing strategy.
- Keep your roadmap flexible. Inform stakeholders that the roadmap is subject to change and is adaptable to market developments and situations. Certain programs may be shelved in favour of higher priority activities to address market needs and wants during a crisis/incident.
- Don’t get lost in the detail. The roadmap should help visualise the strategy and provide direction rather than list out every single tactical thing you’re going to do. Keep it top-level so that it can be understood easily.
Roadmaps exist to provide structure, clear goals and alignment between all involved in a project. A successful roadmap guides a team coherently and effectively towards their ultimate goal. If you get it right, you’re on your way to a successful outcome.
Are you keen to learn more about creating effective Product Marketing Roadmaps? Check out our blogs here.