A New Roadmap to Consider

We all know that roadmaps exist in product management. Everyone is clear on all of the best reasons for having a product roadmap.

There are different types of product roadmaps including market and strategy roadmap, visionary roadmap, technology roadmap, platform roadmap, and a slew of variations on a “classic” product roadmap (internal or external). But, does anyone ever plan out a product marketing roadmap?

I actually heard this term (a roadmap) used in relation to product marketing. When I probed, it was defined as “we need to know that we are doing the right stuff at the right time”. This got me thinking that, yes, that makes sense and we should be defining a product marketing roadmap that supports our product roadmap.

As I peruse my product roadmap, I was thinking about what the benefits would be for a product marketing roadmap, how would we change behaviors? We could start product positioning sooner, define the product benefits, do internal education while product is being developed, test potential messages as we test the features – matching critical product launch elements to the product roadmap process.

Maybe the concept of a product marketing road map is something we should all be looking at doing – doesn’t sound so far-fetched now, does it?  Maybe we should be looking at product marketing roadmaps as our first new value to introduce to our organizations for the new year.

From the outside looking in, I see that we are so concerned with checklist marketing, that we forget to strategically plan, or roadmap, our efforts so that when the product is ready – the launch side is ready when we are ready to release the product.

So, what elements would you include in a product marketing roadmap?

16 thoughts on “A New Roadmap to Consider

  1. Jennifer,

    Personally, I see the two very intertwined and strongly believe you should be doing marketing activities at the start of any product development.

    Starting with your product benefits will not only help your development team understand priorities it will also help you build your internal communications. Selling your product early internally will help get the message out and will increases the chances of you getting feedback (better to find out you are missing something early than late).

    Looking forward to hearing what you think about making your product marketing roadmap part of your product planning deliverables.



  2. I look for inbound concepts. They end up in your differentiation, terminology, product, and your touchpoint collection.

    A concept shows up, gets tuned up, evolves, interacts with the concepts already in your product, interacts with the concepts in your market.

    Once the concept has been verbalized, its word or phrase fight it out with other words or phrases on the lexical hype cycle. Some of those words become buzzwords and blow away, commoditized, and depreciated.

    On a roadmap, you would have a lot of processes and their lags. Functional units need to tell you their typical lag times for their processes.

    The terminology aspect of conceptual logistics also ties into keyword development and keyword inventories.

    How would your roadmap be informed by concept discovery?

  3. Interesting concept.
    I’m wondering what’s different from that and a typical marketing plan that includes product marketing, marcomm, PR, analyst relations, and other stuff on it. I don’t know anyone managing product marketing from a checklist – I’ve always worked from a plan with a schedule that intersects the PM plans. For example, message development requires a series of steps that have to happen well before the product is released. A checklist doesn’t do that job at all.
    Perhaps a key difference between that and what you’re suggesting is how far that plan goes out. I’ve usually worked with plans that run out 12 to 18 months at the most where I know typically roadmaps can run out years. When you get to the longer timeframes you’re working on your market strategy rather than the marketing plan. So maybe the market strategy is equivalent to your “marketing roadmap”?

  4. To me a product marketing roadmap is very familiar to a product roadmap. Basically, it helps you frame what your product marketing organization want to accomplish in the next one year? One item in that roadmap could be the launch of the product or a new release. But there are a lot of other things that can happen in product marketing than just a release launch plan.

    Here are examples of projects that can fall into a product marketing roadmap
    1) Create videos that talks to the significant business value your product delivers and then let the videos go viral.
    2) Start a webinar series
    3) Develop social media strategy
    4) Start a blog
    5) Create case studies for X vertical, small business etc. – these could be two different items on your roadmap.
    6) Update all of the sales literature to new format
    7) Develop User group strategy
    8) Win-loss analysis phase 1
    9) Select vendor to host all sales support literature

    As you can see the tasks that I have listed above are related to product marketing, but independent of a marketing launch plan of a new product.

  5. All of these are valid points to which I agree and support. Yes, typically a marketing strategy plan would encompass many of these items; but, what I am proposing is a long-range document with activties that align to the product roadmap schedule, and include items like the strategy, programs, marcom efforts, etc. some of which are not typically aligned, but rather included in launch plans. By combining all the items into an integrated product marketing roadmap, the vision – the future – becomes clear and is more easily institutionalized amongst the internal audiences. This makes the launch/release more successful.

  6. Intriguing… seems like there might be two things going on here:
    [1] a deliverables-oriented roadmap to make sure that PMM is on track with various product and launch items, of use to PMM and its client organizations, and
    [2] some internal evaluation or soul-searching to help improve process and work products. Retrospective-like. Normally, we’d limit distribution of this to encourage frank discussion and self-criticism… and welcoming feedback from selected internal consumers.


  7. Jennifer:

    This is indeed a very provocative topic since it probes several issues of integrated marketing and product development planning: which function/role owns which plan and which deliverables, where is the product in its life-cycle, who controls which budget for the “marketing mix” at each point in that life-cycle and what level of planning is needed (product, category, brand, line of business, business unit, division…). My attempt here is to offer that one of these levels helps answer part of the question behind the question, that is, we may be confused about the “specific elements” for a “product marketing roadmap” because of the thought-processes that we use to frame the issues…

    In my experience, rarely have Product Roadmaps been articulated with specificity to either “life-cycle phase” (intro/growth/maturity/decline) or “stage-gate” (discovery/scope/business-case/product-development/test-validate/launch/business-development/end-of-life/end-of-service).

    Product Roadmaps are typically a high level document focused mostly on development and market entry/launch dates.

    Josh mentioned “benefits” which really come from the problem definition that takes place in the front-end of innovation stages when market issues are identified and associated with organizational capabilities/technologies which lead to manifestations of products/services and possible offerings.

    David spoke of concepts, language, keywords and basically the brand messages around the product, also mostly started in the early life-cycle stages, but reinforced throughout its life.

    The 12-18 months that April (and mostly of what Gopal) spoke of what product marketing plans typically focus on: the intro or product-development/launch phases.Thus these plans miss the Josh/David stuff and a great deal of the day-to-day “marketing process” that takes place in the later stages of a product life-cycle — e.g. Gopal’s on-going social media/user-group/win-loss stuff, specific and on-going campaigns, promotions, responding to RFPs, brand development, bundling offers, relaunch, etc.

    Rick observed that deliverables from tactical plans and process improvement are the basis of discussion thus far.

    I agree and believe that bucketizing the plans into life-cycle categories can help organizations role up the often discrete tactical plans and day-to-day marketing processes into a useful structure. It not only helps integration of existing marketing plans to the overall product roadmap, but helps drive less articulated planning that may be more tactical or process-oriented in the other phases/stages. This goes for product marketing plans/roadmaps strategies, brand planning, launch planning, growing the business or sunsetting of products, etc.

  8. All good thoughts. For me, what matters the most is to be fully aligned with the Product Management organization and depending on the maturity of the organization clarify and adjust the deliverables that each one owns (whether on Product Management, Product Marketing or Corporate Marketing side). If a Product Marketing roadmap is needed, great. But one does not always need it if he/she is fully in synch with the Product Management organization and key deliverables are strategically inserted as part of the Product Management Lifecycle. What matters the most is communication and in my experience, regular meeting updates have proven to be the most effective to ensure consistency and co-ordination across the organization, supported by a simple PPT (vision / progress-to-date) and s/s (deliverables & tasks oriented).


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