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How to run a product meeting as a marketer (with templates)

By Dannielle Sakher · July 13, 2021
Hero image of a woman presenting to a conference room full of people, with a pie chart on a screen behind her

I work for the Partnerships team at Zapier, which means that I'm a marketer—but a marketer that needs a lot of support from our product and engineering teams to make things happen. I want to be sure we can offer the features our partners want, prioritize new strategic integrations, and continue to improve our partner platform

I know from experience that it can be challenging, as a marketer, to influence your company's product roadmap. But one thing I've found helpful is to proactively schedule and lead meetings with stakeholders across marketing, engineering, and product. Instead of just putting in a request, you're taking charge and making a strong case for your ask.

Here, I'll walk you through how I handle these kinds of meetings, from the initial planning through to the follow-up. I'll include step-by-step stakeholder communication, some templates for information sharing, and tips for making sure things run smoothly.

Gathering intel from a key stakeholder

Before you schedule a meeting with a broader group, you want to be sure you have as much information as possible about the folks you'll be requesting resources from. 

I recommend finding one person from the product or engineering side who can give you the context you need. Ideally it's an enabler, someone who can offer internal visibility for the project and hopefully be a champion for your team. Book a prep session with this person. (It's a lot of meetings, I know, but if it can get you on the product roadmap, it's worth the time.) 

The main goal of this prep call is to learn more about the profile of various stakeholders. 

  • Who are the main decision-makers on the product and engineering side?

  • What are their KPIs?

  • What projects are they currently working on?

  • How does their work ladder up to the company strategy and goals?

These details will help you understand how to pitch your project to align with their work, ensuring that you're hitting the right notes with the right stakeholders. You'll also, of course, want to share a high-level overview of the project you're looking to kick off—partially to gauge interest and partially to seed some excitement.

If you don't have a strong point of contact, try to leverage your manager's connections to see who might be able to have this kind of conversation with you.

Prepping for the meeting

Now that you have all the intel, you can start preparing your proposal. For such an important meeting—one that could get you on, or keep you off, the product roadmap—I suggest putting together a proposal deck.

A screenshot from a slide deck
Here's the cover of a proposal deck I've used for a meeting like this. Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done!

Of course, the deck will be different depending on the type of project you're proposing, but here are a few slides to include:

  • An executive summary. What's the proposal in 1-2 sentences? Be sure to use language that everyone across departments can understand. No marketing jargon!

  • Current state. Where are you now with this project/goal? What do things look like if you do nothing?

  • Historical support. What data do you have from past projects that demonstrate that this project can be effective?

  • Alignment with engineering and product goals. Based on the information from your prep call, how does this project align with the teams you're proposing to? In theory, all goals would ladder up to the company goals, so hopefully, some of these are shared.

  • Expected outcomes of the project. How will this project move the needle on the above goals?

  • General requirements of the project. What resources are you requesting? What are the primary features you need or work you need to accomplish?

Don't create this proposal in a silo. You've had your initial call, but you also want to get feedback from as broad an audience as possible. The more people you ask, the more likely you are to find weak spots—and, in the meantime, you're low-key pitching the project to other folks too.

Once you feel good about it, practice. And then practice again. You want to be sure you're conveying all this information concisely.

Scheduling the meeting

First things first: decide who will attend the meeting. Ideally, you'll invite at least one other person from your team to hype you up, plus at least one product manager and one engineering manager. You can also consider including team members from other departments (e.g., customer support, design) who can answer questions you might not be able to.

Then find a time that works for as many stakeholders as possible. At Zapier, we use Google Calendar to do this—it'll tell you when the next available slot is for everyone you want there. When creating the meeting, be sure to include a link to the proposal deck, so people can review it ahead of time.

I also recommend you send a chat or email and tag/include all the attendees at least a day before the meeting. Include a link to the proposal deck, and give any additional context people might need—this is a higher signal to folks that it's an important meeting and reminds them to prepare in advance.

Here's a template I've used in Slack:

📢 [Project name] kick-off meeting reminder

Date: [Date], T-[X] days

Deck: [link] (please review ahead of time if you can!) Attendees: @ , @ , @

Additional context:




Running the meeting

This is actually the easiest part, assuming you've done solid prep work and that public speaking doesn't make you nauseous. 

Make sure you have someone taking notes, and (I'm going to write this in all caps to make it clear how important it is) LEAVE TIME FOR DISCUSSION. I recommend allotting ⅔ of the meeting for discussion (so 40 minutes of an hour-long meeting). It may seem like a lot, but since you're asking for space on the roadmap, you're likely to get lots of questions and hopefully a lively debate.

No one will be mad if you finish early, but if you're not able to finish in the allotted time, it might start things off on a frustrating note for everyone.

Following up after the meeting

Within 24 hours after the meeting, send a follow-up to everyone who was there. There are two things you need to accomplish at this point:

  1. Summarize the next steps.

  2. Schedule the next touchpoint.

Here's an example of a message you might send.

👋 @[tag all attendees] Thanks for the time yesterday! We covered a ton of ground across product, engineering, and marketing. We're energized to press on toward [project] and explore how we can make this work for everyone. Here's the proposal deck again [link], with a summary of our discussion below.

Biggest opportunity: [1 sentence]

Biggest hurdle: [1 sentence]

Next steps:

- [Name of owner]: [task] by [date]

- [Name of owner]: [task] by [date]

- [Name of owner]: [task] by [date]

I'll schedule a follow-up call for us in two weeks. Keep your eye out! 

Taking the lead on meetings with folks across marketing, engineering, and product can set your project up for success from the start. It'll help you get people on board, be sure everyone's on the same page, and demonstrate your commitment to the work—all important parts of getting on that roadmap.

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