Using Airtable for Product & Marketing Teams Collaboration

To create effective products, product teams require market knowledge. To attract customers, marketing teams require a fantastic product. When they collaborate, they're at their best, generating a continuous feedback loop between the product and the market insights that form it. It results in higher-quality products and happy customers.

However, given their differences in knowledge, work styles, and tool preferences, this is sometimes easier said than done. Particularly if you work from home.

Most people rely on manual, operational solutions to close the gap: pings in launch-themed Slack groups, endless cross-functional planning meetings, and a lot of copy/pasting between marketing and product tool stacks.

And it costs money. For example, the average marketing executive spends 13 hours each week on physical and operational chores. Alignment comes with a hefty price tag. And, to be honest, it's a pointless one.

We'll be sharing the best practices in this article to assist marketing and product teams collaborate more effectively (no copy/pasting necessary). Here's how to accomplish it.

Make a point to set shared goals for product and marketing

What's the best technique to fast align two groups? Give them a common goal to work toward.

At the end of the day, marketing and product have the same goal: to generate new business. When it comes to project execution, though, things aren't nearly so apparent.

Setting joint goals is a simple (but effective) method to bring both teams on board. It's also a more effective way to define objectives. Goal setting is most effective when goals are a) tough, b) set publicly, and c) shared by a group, according to a review of 141 research studies.

Shared goals aid marketing and product development in several ways:

  1. They give teams a reason to work together more: It's easy to get caught up in your own team's work—and only connect with cross-functional partners when you need something from them—in cross-functional work. Shared objectives, on the other hand, encourage further collaboration.

  2. They help settle prioritization debates: If you haven't agreed on goals, you're unlikely to agree on how to spend your time and resources—at least not without some back and forth. Joint aims can help prevent disagreements from escalating.

  3. The process of setting shared goals builds understanding: It's simple to home in on team-specific goals and metrics, especially at the execution level. It's difficult to look beyond them when you're judged against them. Simply setting common goals makes it simpler to sympathize with your partners—and, in turn, offers you a greater understanding of their motivations.

That isn't to argue that all project goals should be discussed. Separate goals can help keep swim lanes open and accountability for more specific outcomes apparent. However, additional common goals maintain collaboration in the forefront of people's minds.

How to set shared goals between both teams

Try the diverge and converge strategy to get started with shared marketing and product goals. It's a technique of thinking independently—and then getting together as a group to discuss—in order to solve a shared challenge, borrowed from UX research.

The diverging motion is used in shared goal planning to allow people on both sides to develop potential shared goals. The converge motion aids in the discovery of common threads between the two groupings. To expedite the process, have each squad vote on their favorite goals from the other team.

Here are a few examples of common marketing and product objectives:

  • Improve the trial to conversion rate by X%: Marketing contributes by attracting qualified users to the trial and providing customer education, while product works to improve the in-product user experience.

  • Get x# of beta testers to try a new feature: Marketing advertises and recruits testers while product develops and launches a new feature. The product then makes adjustments in response to user feedback.

Make sure your goals are visible (and tracked) in a shared location as a final step. This objectives and key results (OKR) tracking template is a wonderful place to start if you're utilizing Airtable.

Lean into transparent, async-optimized processes to unblock work on both sides

Almost half of marketing executives (46%) say they don't have access to the timely data they need to make strategic decisions. To put it another way, a lack of timely information is causing work to be bottlenecked. When it comes to access to information, though, a little transparency goes a long way. Tracking your work in a place where anybody can see it is one method to make data more visible (or at least, the major milestones).

It democratizes access to essential information when you track your work in a visible space, such as an OKR tracker. This design allows both teams to work on their own time while still receiving basic status updates.

This is especially important for teams like marketing and product, which rely on each other to thrive but don't often connect naturally on a daily basis.

How to host an async scrum

In order to increase transparency, collaborative flows must be designed with asynchronous (async) work in mind. Consider how you may make information available on a self-serve basis rather than relying on meetings or chat pings for updates. You won't have to interrupt your workflow to offer a quick update, and your cross-functional partners won't have to interrupt theirs to request one.

You can achieve this in a variety of ways, including:

  • Using a public chat channel to share project updates on a daily or monthly basis

  • By default, your file-sharing service (such as Google Drive) is set to public.

  • Organizing async scrums

As an example, consider the third option: hosting async scrums. Scrum meetings are a mechanism that development teams use on a regular basis to share their objectives and roadblocks. Its purpose is to keep track of your progress toward your objectives and to identify any big bottlenecks before they become a hindrance. Scrums are traditionally held in real time. But to make it even easier, you can facilitate async.

Each member in a scrum shares:

  • What they did the day before

  • What they're concentrating on today

  • Any roadblocks they're up against

You might start with this simple daily check-in template if you wanted to host an async scrum in Airtable. To begin, go to the "Team" table and add your teammates. Then, request an update from your teammates, including "Priorities," "Progress," and "Problems."

Each team member can come into the base on a regular basis (say, every morning) and give their daily update.

Create cross-functional project squads that include members from both teams

Cross-functional squads align marketing and product teams on execution, just as creating shared goals aligns them on purpose.

The lack of team alignment, according to 97 percent of employees and executives, has a negative influence on project outcomes. "Networks of teams that cross department lines contribute to faster decision making and allow additional viewpoints to shine through," according to research from McKinsey.

Creating a cross-functional squad can help teams communicate more effectively, enhance cross-pollination of ideas, and encourage continuous feedback.

How to create your own cross-functional product<>marketing squad

To begin, you'll need to assign tasks and obligations to each squad member. The RACI technique (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed) is a straightforward way to determine where each individual belongs.

Then you'll want to work together on a project plan (like this product launch template, for example). Your plans will be more clearly stated and evident to the rest of the team this way.

Finally, you must identify means to maintain communication, preferably through recurrent feedback cycles and status updates.

Putting it all on the table

It can be difficult to bring product and marketing together. Collaboration isn't always intuitive, even when they share a shared goal: to get the best product to the appropriate people. It's a delicate balancing act between technical and creative aspects. When you add in a set of incompatible tool stacks, things get a lot more difficult.

You can bridge the gap between product and marketing with the appropriate tools—and the correct underpinning principles. You can create a cross-functional feedback loop that helps you generate better products—and keep consumers happy—by identifying shared goals, optimizing the way you share information, and forming cross-functional squads.


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