All related (42)
Hege Thorbjornsen Starling
Director of Product Marketing & Development, hims & hersJune 13

There are multiple factors you could use to determine where to build a deeper focus but I don’t necessarily think that you have to make such a firm pick. There are definitely nuances between the two roles, but skills are also transferable. Crafting messaging/positioning, translating user insights into strategy, influencing product/technical roadmaps, and understanding market behaviors are all skills which at the core are the same across both B2B and B2C.

It might be harder to cross over between the two if you have only been in one or the other for an extended period of time. Not impossible, but it could be harder to make the switch after say 15+ years only in B2B compared to if you have an understanding of both after having done 2-3 years in B2C, then 2-3 in B2B and then back to B2C. 

If you do want to deepen your expertise in one or the other and are trying to decide, I would recommend getting some insight into the day-to-day problems to solve and then follow the path that interests you the most. A great way to learn more about each role is to do a few informational interviews with people who have been in both roles, browse job postings for responsibilities, or actually try it out for yourself for a few years and see what you like.

When I look at candidates, I am less focused on what industries or companies they have been at and more focused on the actual work they have done and how that can translate to the role I am hiring for.

Alex Chahin
Senior Director of Product Marketing & Development, hims & hers | Formerly Lyft, Hims & Hers, American ExpressOctober 4

There’s no singular answer to this one. It truly depends on what your goals and ambitions are for your marketing career.

For instance, some people just really like the type of work they get to do on B2C product marketing. The same goes for B2B product marketing. If you’re someone who gets the most fulfillment out of one more than the other and would find it a drag to do your best work if you couldn’t, it may make sense to go as far as you can in that space.

In that sense, yes, it absolutely makes sense to develop a deep focus and expertise in either B2C or B2B product marketing. The more knowledge and experience you have, it’s more likely you’ll do better work, have more impact, and get recognized for it.

The counterargument is that oftentimes to operate at the most senior level in marketing organizations, you’ll need a working knowledge of both B2C and B2B marketing. For instance, even heavily consumer-oriented products like the meditation app Headspace had to crack B2B distribution to fuel growth.

The good news is that, yes, many of the skills are transferable. After all, you’re still trying to understand an audience, identify their needs, position your product accordingly, and figure out what channels will best reach them. The exact execution may vary between B2C and B2B, but the underpinnings are shared.

It’s also worth noting that, for better or worse, hiring managers will often use past experience as a quick heuristic to determine if you’d be a good fit. It’s a quick heuristic, and oftentimes people need these kinds of rules of thumb to make a complex hiring process easier to manage. That means if you’re trying to break into B2C and only have B2B experience, you may find it harder to get those interviews.

To hedge against this, if you want to broaden your skillset, look for opportunities to work on the other area within your current company. See if someone more senior in that craft can help guide you on that project so you’re absorbing as much as possible. This will help you increase your marketability and storytelling whenever you do want to make the leap.

A long answer short: Do the work that best motivates you, and lean into learning opportunities as they arise.

Mike Polner
Head of Consumer Marketing, Discord | Formerly Uber, Fivestars, Electronic ArtsDecember 13

I touched on this a bit above - I started my career in B2B and learned really valuable lessons before moving more deeply into B2C. 

I think Marketing is evolving so quickly that you can learn extremely valuable skills in either the B2B or the B2C world that are applicable across both, so wouldn't say strictly focusing on just one for the next 10-years is absolutely the right (or wrong choice.) It's more the growth mindset and defining and understanding what your career goals and ambitions are. 

When hiring somebody, it's extremely context specific. For a Consumer Growth PMM for example, having done some serious lead generation on the B2B side and having an extremely deep knowledge of funnels and growth levers would absolutely be applicable as long as you also clear the bar on the consumer basics - product and user intuition. 

Conversely, if we're looking for a Restaurant Experience PMM who's primary responsibility will be defining the overarching narrative and differentiating our business, I wouldn't exclude a consumer focused marketer who has had success building brands and launching integrated campaigns.

Aneri Shah
Head of Product Marketing, Ethos Life | Formerly Meta, MicrosoftFebruary 17

I've thought about this a lot as I've worked across both B2B and B2C and wondered if it makes sense to specialize and how transferrable skills are. This is also something I've asked many leaders and mentors. The overwhelming advice I've gotten is to focus on being a good marketer and not focus on B2B vs. B2C - instead, think about the types of problems you're interested in solving, the day to day work that most engages and challenges you, and how much you'll learn in a certain job. Additionally, marketing leadership roles often span both B2B and B2C, so having a good knowledge of both can be an advantage. 

When looking at candidates, I think strategic thinking and willingness to learn are the top traits I prioritize - whether the candidate comes from a B2B vs. B2C (or even non-PMM) background is secondary. 

Emily Rugaber
VP of Marketing (previously Head of Product Marketing), ThanxJuly 6

- It's all about being able to tell a story about how your previous experience tracks to what you want to do
- B2B and B2C are converging a bit so I think the skills are definitely transferrable. It might be hard to move from the far end of the spectrum all the way to the other far end
- What determines fit for a position isn’t just about B2B vs. B2C. It is also about:
- How well defined the product is
- What stage of life the company is in
- How well supported the role will be
- Whether or it is a big brand vs. nascent brand
- All of the above contribute to the kind of product marketing you are doing as much if not more than B2B vs. B2C

Key differences:
- B2B - You definitely have to work with challenging stakeholders
- B2C - See lots of PMMs in brand management, eye towards brand side. Both relevant and applicable…

For candidates, its all about where are you aiming. What excites you is as important.