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Why is it so Hard to Hire a Product Marketing Manager?

Almost every tech company has finally realized that unless there is an equally effective go-to-market strategy and product release the Product Management function is not functioning at its full potential. In order to achieve this, a Product Marketing Manager needs to join the team. 

Over the last 14 months, there has been a skyrocketing demand for experienced Product Marketing Managers

In this article, we outline the 6 reasons why it's so hard to hire for this function and what you can do to hire the Product Marketing talent you need to ensure effective go-to-market campaigns and product launches.

Small Talent Pool 

The pool of talent is small because not all companies employ Product Marketing Managers. As we mentioned, most companies have just woken up to the idea that product marketing is an essential part of the marketing team.

Startups most often hire Product Marketing talent after the most critical 'growth' roles are in place; with Demand Generation, Growth, and Content Marketers often the first to be hired into a startup.

Due to the previous lack of popularity of the role, there are simply fewer Product Marketing Managers out there to choose from. 

Inexperienced Talent Pool

New demand for this function exceeds the supply of candidates so many companies are promoting product or marketing employees from within or hiring unseasoned product marketers for potential.

Experience takes time to acquire and commitment to the craft. As a result, there is a lot of inexperienced talent (two years or less) in Product Marketing Manager roles within tech organizations. 

Experience Costs Money

It’s the simple law of supply and demand, especially as general salaries are soaring post-pandemic. Senior and experienced Product Marketing talent is hard to find and thus well-paid. Product Marketing salaries for top talent have never been higher.

While money is not the number reason most people change roles, in today's economy it's a factor and not all employers are in a position to be able to compete on offers.

Leadership Opportunities

The Product Marketing function is considered a 'whirlpool role' by many people… once a Product Marketing Manager, always a Product Marketing Manager. 

Many feel stuck in the role as there are fewer options for career growth. Very few tech startups employ enough product marketers to warrant having their own leader.

For that reason, it's difficult for most Product Marketing Managers to be considered a candidate for formal management roles, often awarding them to the person who owns Demand Gen instead.

We know first-hand, that some of the most successful Product Marketers are only flexible about moving if it’s a leadership role or an offer that gets them closer to one, faster.

Experience Varies 

One of the most complicated reasons why hiring product marketing talent is so hard. The role of a Product Marketing Manager is one of the broadest and most cross-functional roles that could exist; engaging with the product, marketing, and sales teams within an organization.

Those who excel do so because they become a jack of all trades, working with:

  • A Product Manager counterpart 
  • Content marketers 
  • Sales teams (both internal and external partners)
  • CS and support teams

Each candidate has varying traits, strengths, and past areas of focus which can differ based on what an employer needs. For example, a Product Marketer whose background began in sales might excel in sales enablement tools and sales training but struggle with other areas of the role.

Finding the right combination of skills and strengths needed to succeed in each organization’s unique product marketing role requirements is complex and hard to source. 

Employer Expectations

It's normal for all employers to want the shortest road to a successful outcome and to want the perfect product marketing hire. The ideal candidate has done the role before for a competitor or similar company, with tremendous success.

However, for most companies, it takes time to find and attract the perfect hire, not to mention a very healthy talent budget. For the majority of tech startups, unlimited time and budgets are not in the cards - so how do you find them?

How to Hire a Product Marketing Manager 

While there is no doubt this role is hard to hire for, here are 5 practical steps you can apply when recruiting Product Marketing talent:

  1. Define the area of Product Marketing you are most concerned about and where you need the strongest skills. This will help you should you be unable to attract a completely well-rounded product marketer and need to choose from a pool of candidates with greater strengths in particular areas.
  2. Expand your boundaries to engage and select from the largest pool of candidates possible. Limiting location parameters ultimately means limiting your pool of talent. The world is remote and hire should be as well. 
  3. Think ahead to how you might create opportunities for a Product Marketer to expand their role and learn new marketing skills. While not all Product Marketers want opportunities to move into management or expand their scope, most do. 
  4. Regarding compensation, know where you can be flexible. It's always surprising how many companies go into a search just figuring it out as they go along. Know your top end and flexibilities. Plan and be prepared with your most competitive offer. 
  5. Sell! At every step of the interview process, leave the candidate more excited about the team and the mission. End each interview step with a review of how excited you are about them and why it's a great time to join. 

Landing a talented Product Marketing Manager is a challenge in this environment, but it’s not impossible. The key is to ensure you know where you can be flexible, what qualifications are essential, and be prepared to move fast.

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