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What's the best way to enter the product marketing field?

2 Answers
Teresa Haun
Teresa Haun
Zendesk Senior Director, Technology Marketing and CommunicationsFebruary 4

This question is very similar to this one someone else asked https://sharebird.com/how-can-a-junior-digital-marketing-generalist-stand-out-as-a-pmm-candidate-in-a-role-that-requires-3-years-of-product-marketing-experience?answer=nOrEYkp4B7 so going to share my answer from there here too:

I think it’s all about making it clear that you have relevant skills and experience that will apply. Also, that you have tremendous potential and are so eager to learn! If you really don’t have a lot of experience that you can make clear is very relevant for product marketing too, I also would suggest just being upfront about how you may not be coming in with as much direct experience as other candidates, but here’s how you’re going to make up for that (like you’re a super fast learner and you’re getting up to speed in PMM skills already through a class). Another person asked about what to put in a PMM portfolio too, which I also think is a great idea as a way to preemptively address a hiring manager’s potential concerns about relevant experience when looking at your application.

Here’s what I suggested in that response for what I’d put in a PMM portfolio:

I would try to highlight anything that shows you have the key skills to be an effective product marketer. That definitely includes strong writing samples and case studies, but also:

  • Presentations that show you can create a compelling narrative and convince an audience of your point
  • Detailed GTM launch plans with how you will or did measure success
  • Clear, convincing and well-supported messaging and positioning, like through a messaging source document (something we use at Zendesk for all of our major products and launches) or a presentation
  • Thorough competitive analyses that highlight where the opportunity is for that company and what value props they should use to differentiate

Also, depending on what PMM role you’re interviewing for, like if it’s a Retail Solutions PMM let’s say, I’d suggest adding more to show you have knowledge or experience particularly relevant to Retail.

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Ryan Van Wagoner
Ryan Van Wagoner
Forethought Senior Director, Head of MarketingSeptember 16

Over the course of my career, I've seen incredible product marketers enter the field in all sorts of ways:

- Pursuing an MBA and getting an internship at a large tech company

- Getting sales experience and then moving into a sales-enablement-focused PMM role as an entry point to the field

- Starting in core marketing (demand gen / creative / content marketing / events / etc.) and using those skills to transition to PMM

The best way to enter the product marketing field is the one that plays to your interests and strengths. Do you have a background in sales? Marketing? Customer success? Keep in mind the product marketing field is very broad in terms of roles and responsibilities, so play the long game and focus on where you can add the most value today. If you're currently a sales rep, you'll have an easier time moving into a GTM-focused PMM role than a messaging-focused PMM role.

Note that PMM roles at smaller companies lean more toward generalist roles than specialist. If your goal is to become a PMM at a startup, you'll need to assess your strengths and then position and message yourself (see what I did there?) as the right fit based on those relevant skills.

But before you make any drastic moves, talk to people (I don't like the term "network"--just have real conversations with real humans!). Try to understand what PMMs at your target companies/industries do and what they need. Remember, companies hire PMMs to solve problems and make things happen. As you better understand the value companies want to get from a PMM, you'll be able to tailor your personal positioning and messaging to pitch your skills in the best possible way.

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