By now, most technology and financial services companies realize that product marketers can play a pivotal role in unlocking new product and portfolio growth. A great product marketer brings a blend of strategic and tactical skills to launch new solutions with the right positioning and messaging, enable sales teams, and elevate marketing programs.
So how do you recruit the best product marketers in a field where they are in high demand?
In my last global product marketing leadership role, I was known for developing a high-performance of 15 managers and individual contributors around the world. Here’s how I recruit top talent:
Tip #1: STOP Using Direct Experience to Filter Candidates
Too often, job descriptions require many years of industry, product, and product marketing experience. While direct experience is helpful, in my experience it has a neutral effect on actual product marketing performance – neither better or worse than others newer to the industry or field.
A qualified product marketing leader can develop the right person into a great product marketer. Those who fit the profession take initiative to quickly learn industry and product specifics. But what I can’t teach are things like integrity, collaboration, creative problem solving, and building influence. Product marketing is such a rapidly expanding field, and we often find talent coming from related disciplines, including: Sales, Product, Business Consulting, Strategy, and Marketing.
Tip #2: SEEK OUT More Predictive Success Traits for the Role
In my experience, here are the predictive traits of great product marketers:
- Insatiable Curiosity
- Out-of-the-Box Strategic Thinking
- High Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
- Strong Communication Skills
- Action Over Analysis Paralysis
One of my more unconventional hires a few years ago was a transitioning Army Colonel who had commanded combat medical evacuation units and piloted Blackhawk helicopters. On the surface, he wasn’t an obvious choice for a senior product marketing manager. But his background lent itself to all five traits. The role was international, which requires cross-cultural skills (which are difficult to find). In the end, I had to stake my professional reputation on his ability to do the job. It turned out to be a well-placed bet.
Tip #3: Find the Right-Fit for the Specific Role
Product marketing is a broad discipline. Depending on the product, portfolio and company needs, a product marketer may need to focus almost exclusively on launching new products… or out-marketing the industry-leading competitor… or advocating for customer needs …
What’s important is to find a candidate with strong product marketing traits, but also someone suited to the specific role. I once had two great candidates for the same product marketing manager role – one with a portfolio playing catch-up to the industry’s technology leader. One candidate came from financial services and could work within the industry. But the second candidate came from a technology start-up. I hired the second candidate, but referred the first to another team where her skills would be better utilized (never waste great talent!).
As a final thought, smart recruiting also means explaining the open role’s importance to the greater team and company overall. I always want my product marketers to feel like they won the job lottery by joining my team. Then my job is to carry through that experience once the new product marketer is onboarded.