Question Page

How do you break into a product marketing role?

I've seen associate roles that still require 1-3 years of experience and haven't gotten results from applying for them with transferable skills highlighted in my resume.
7 Answers
Suyog Deshpande
Suyog Deshpande
Samsara Sr. Director | Head Of Product & Partner MarketingNovember 19

It is tough. If you are planning to move internally, it starts with finding a sponsor - someone who is willing to take risk for you. That is not going to happen automatically. 

I answered a similar question so posting that reply. 

There are multiple entry paths into product marketing

If you are fresh out of college (MBA) and want to switch to product marketing - - Problem solving (Can you identify the right problem and can you analyze the problem to identify the root cause?), Creativity (Will you bring a fresh perspective to the table?), Presentation skills (Can you articulate your POV?) and Coachability (Can you work with the team, seek their guidance and learn fast)

If you want to move within an organization - Your career has 3 pillars - function, industry and seniority. It is much easier to change one at a time. So, if you are planning to move to product marketing from a different function, then don’t try to negotiate on level or industry. It is hard to succeed when two of these factors change at one time. Additionally, the hiring manager will have to take a huge risk, and we know the market is hot!

Collect gold coins and redeem them at the right time: Every time you work cross functionally or help people from other department (in this case product marketing), you collect a virtual gold coin (or say a goodwill coin). Earn enough of them before you decide to redeem them. You can redeem one coin but then don't expect a big reward. As you redeem, make ure you still stay net positive. That will help you succeed even after you redeem. Know that the hiring manager would be taking considerable risk by hiring someone without PMM experience. Help them help you.

So, how to go about it? First, identify an entry point where you can prove your value quickly - if you are an engineer then technical marketing could be a good entry point. If you are in sales then sales enablement could be a good entry point. If you are in customer success, either adoption marketing or customer marketing could be good entry points. Once you are in, then try to expand your work areas to adjacent domains - you can go from technical to release marketing to messaging OR you can go from sales enablement to solutions marketing to go to market. It all depends on business needs, so don’t plan too much. If you are passionate about product marketing and you see a manager willing to invest in your success, go for the first opportunity you get.

There is a ton to do and learn in product marketing. So, land and expand!

Spcifically for the associate role, try shadowing other PMMs. Ask them if you can spend a day shadowing them. Ask if there are any projects that you could do with them. Know your strengths and apply them to those projects. Certifiactions and volunteer work experience can also help.

3730 Views
Dana Barrett
Dana Barrett
Tremendous VP of MarketingOctober 15

It's hard to break into product marketing with no experience as it is a tough job. PMMs have to manage a lot of cross functional stakeholders and are often responsible for executing large, complex launches. My suggestion is to enter a company in a function where you have experience and network your way into a PMM role.

That is how I got my start in Product Marketing. I transitioned from Operations to Product Marketing by working on projects (some outside the scope of my role) with a woman who was working on a product that interested me. Long story short, she was so grateful for my help that she let me know when a role opened up on her team, and even though I didn’t have direct experience, she gave me a chance.

People are often willing to give someone without direct experience a chance, but in my experience, they will only do so if they know you.

13448 Views
Nate Slayton
Nate Slayton
6sense Director of Product MarketingAugust 16

Is it possible to move laterally within your current company to a PMM role? Or look for an open position with your current title at a company you know you could move laterally into PMM? 

This is what I did - I was running a small team of Pro Service designers at a SaaS company and just started doing my own product/solution marketing for our service packages (didn't ask permission). One day the Director of Product Marketing comes to me with a job offer because I had demonstrated a strong skill set in what I was good at - design - and translated into product marketing that got results (i.e. sales). 

I know its slower, but you have to think strategically here and position yourself for longterm success. Product marketers are typically generalists with a couple of deep skillsets. If you stand out and demonstrate how your deep skills transfer to product marketing, then the opportunities will come.

608 Views
Nathaniel Plamondon
Nathaniel Plamondon
Cornerstone OnDemand Senior Product Marketing ManagerJune 2

Unless you can find someone to take a shot on you, the best route is definitely making an internal move. I moved to product marketing from content marketing – I made it clear to my manager that PMM was where I wanted to end up, and we worked with the existing PMM org to find me stretch assignments and side gigs so that I could get exposure to the practice while still fulfilling my existing role. After some time doing that, a role opened up and they agreed to give it to me in an entry-level capacity, and I grew from there.

Overall, your combination of transferrable skills coupled with domain expertise from time with the company is what will make you more valuable than an experienced outside hire. For this reason, you may have similar luck making that adjacent move to a competitor. We have a PMM on our team who did not have specific PMM expertise when they applied, but was in an adjacent role for a competitor – domain expertise matters!

243 Views
David Sanderson
David Sanderson
Ministry Brands Director of Product Marketing, Non-Profit SolutionsJune 28

My experience is probably a bit unique, but it may be helpful to those interested in the role.

I started my career in a technical support/customer success role, then later moved into an entry-level product management role (probably most aligned with a product or business analyst), and then moved into product marketing as at an associate level. This was all at the same company over a number of years, so I already had a deep knowledge of the customer, their fears and frustrations, etc., as well as our products, by the time I moved into my associate product marketing role.

I also spent a number of years as a freelance content marketing creator early in my career when I was still in my support role where I worked directly with my CMO at that time (again, all at the same company). So I had already proven that I was a good writer, knew our products, and knew our market/customer base. These three aspects are key to product marketing. So key, I'll say it again: know your market, know your products, and be a good communicator.

When a position was open, they contacted me; I didn't even have much of an interview process. I essentially started and hit the ground running on day 1. But again, this was all at the same company over a multi-year period before I moved into product marketing.

So all of that to say, that if you want your first product marketing role, start planting those seeds today. And if you can't check those boxes yet (market, products, and communication), start creating ways or building relationships in which you can achieve each of those.

174 Views
Dave Kong
Dave Kong
Cohere Head of Product MarketingDecember 20

For those just starting their Product Marketing career, this can be a challenge. When evaluating candidates that don’t have previous PMM experience, it’s a risk for a hiring manager. You’re competing against many other candidates that do have PMM experience. So what could make you stand out and be the preferred candidate?

Related Roles That Translate Well

  • Sales
  • Sales Engineer
  • Customer Success
  • Product Management

Why? The transferrable skillset of storytelling and championing the voice of the customer is at the heart of PMM. Customer-facing roles such as sales, sales engineer and customer success have these potential candidates positioning and messaging both good and bad news, all the time. Customer-facing product managers are also in a great position to communicate product value while keeping the customer in mind. There are quite a few times where these candidates can tell the story about their product better than a PMM. And there are, of course, other roles with skills that can translate well too. Great problem solving, writing and a breadth of marketing fundamentals are also part of the PMM repertoire.

Every candidate is different and many open PMM roles may not be the right fit. I know it’s hard. If you want some specific advice relevant to you, feel free to direct message me here or reach out to me on LinkedIn.

1007 Views
RJ Gazarek
RJ Gazarek
Refactored Marketing, LLC Principal Product Marketing ManagerFebruary 19

I agree with everything Dave has written, another role I would look for is someone in Content Marketing who has worked with Product Marketing, and wants to get into how the sausage is made. Understanding what the otherside of that world looks like, can be valuable coming into PMM, because when you create your messaging briefs/docs, you will have an eye on making them usable to a content writer/marketer.  

PMM can be a pretty heavy role, which is why it can be hard to hire someone with no experience, however, any PMM hiring manager worth their weight can spot strong talent that is eager to learn. I can teach anyone how to do Product Marketing, what I can't teach are things like "taking initiative", "being a self starter", and "learning quickly". A lot of PMM requires you to do that, because you have to learn the product on a pretty technical level, be comfortable enough to talk to customers and prospects, and be able to lead cross-functional teams during product launches. There is a lot of weight riding on PMM, so keep applying! If you would like me to take a look at your resume, reach out to me on here or LinkedIn, and I'll be happy to do that for you. I mentor other people new to Product Marketing through LinkedIn as well, so happy to take a look and give you advice on what to pull out and make shine a bit more.

1159 Views
Developing Better Messaging
Thursday, April 18 • 12PM PT
Developing Better Messaging
Virtual Event
Jesse Lopez
Megan Bettinger
Melani Deyto
+239
attendees
Top Product Marketing Mentors
Christy Roach
Christy Roach
AssemblyAI VP of Marketing
Sarah Din
Sarah Din
Quickbase VP of Product Marketing
Jeffrey Vocell
Jeffrey Vocell
Panorama Education Head of Product Marketing
Mary Sheehan
Mary Sheehan
Adobe Head of Lightroom Product Marketing
Jenna Crane
Jenna Crane
Klaviyo Head of Product Marketing
Alex Lobert
Alex Lobert
Meta Product Marketing Lead, Facebook for Business & Commerce
Christine Sotelo-Dag
Christine Sotelo-Dag
ThoughtSpot Senior Director of Product Marketing
Kevin Garcia
Kevin Garcia
Anthropic Product Marketing Leader
Amanda Groves
Amanda Groves
Crossbeam Senior Director Product Marketing
Abdul Rastagar
Abdul Rastagar
GTM Leader | Marketing Author | Career Coach