How to hire a good Product Marketer
“When you are in the room, I feel that the customer is there with us.”
👋 Heya! It’s Alicia. Welcome to Finding Customer Focus - a newsletter to help you accelerate growth by putting your customers at the heart of your business.
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Product Marketing is having a moment. Seemingly overnight (okay, over the past 3-6 months), everyone and their mother is looking to hire a Product Marketer. And after decades of hiding in the shadow of enterprise giants and being battered around by startups, Product Marketing is finally being understood as a critical and strategic function.
Just in the past month, I’ve talked with three senior leaders who all independently see Product Marketing as their first crucial marketing hire.
And they’re right.
Getting this right is so important to the long term success of your marketing, and of your business.
These are the three things you should look for to hire the right person for the job.
Mindset - The best Product Marketers demonstrate consistent ability to actively listen, compromise, and collaborate to get things over the line - and they’ll do this without making anyone feel left behind. Their background lends itself to strong commercial acumen, but it is balanced with genuine, innate care for the customer’s perspective. Most importantly, the best Product Marketers are fearless in standing up for the customer even when it’s uncomfortable. As we love to worship in the tech world, a sense of “grit,” resilience, and compulsion to do the right thing even when it’s the tougher path are non-negotiable traits.
In other words, anyone can hide behind strong commercial performance or fundraising milestones. A Product Marketer will help you start to question, “What do we stand for? And who stands behind us? How do we truly serve their needs better than anyone else?”
Speak many languages - It goes without saying that Product Marketers must be confident working with (often messy) data. The best Product Marketers will spot opportunities-- blind spots-- and use data to tell a story in a way that compels people to listen. With data as a universal language, they’ll force the conversation by adapting the messaging to their closest allies - from tech/engineering, to product, to commercial, marketing, senior execs, you name it. Product Marketers should be the keeper of the language of the customer - also commonly known as the “Voice of the Customer.”
Connect the dots - What’s even the point? So what? Why? Why are you showing up every day? Product Marketers love to get existential. They bring a gut check to your strategy and a ‘system of checks and balances’ to your everyday work streams.
Product Marketers will ask:
Product Management - “Where’s the customer represented in your PRD (product requirements document)?”
Product Design - “Did you conduct market research or quantitative insights to inform those design decisions?”
User Research - “Can we set up interviews with X type of customer profiles to better understand their perceptions of our value?”
Marketing - “Who are we talking to? Why are we talking to them? What message/value do they actually want to hear?”
Senior leadership - “What’s our bigger picture? Where are we headed and who do we focus on serving first and best?”
What binds all of these together? Empathy and a relentless focus on finding common ground. A Product Marketer’s worldview is always firmly rooted with the customer. If you want to survive as a business, then every customer touchpoint, marketing message, and product vision must adapt, or at least pass through, a filter of consideration for the customer. That, in a nutshell, is the job of an excellent PMM.
Product Marketers are the glue that bring it all together. I’ve found this is quite a difficult natural talent to articulate when you’re briefing stakeholders on job interview loops, so I hope these tips help you get a feel for who you’re looking for.
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