Does a Product Marketer Need to be a Subject Matter Expert?

In an earlier article, we explored why it's so hard to hire a Product Marketer. Now, let's explore another potential roadblock in your search for a Product Marketer...

If your hiring requirements include subject matter expertise, you’re often in for an uphill battle. 

If you find yourself struggling to land a Product Marketer with the right experience and subject matter expertise within your pay band, ask yourself: Is it really necessary for the Product Marketing Manager to be an expert in your products or solutions before you hire them?

You’ll quickly find the answer is often no, with some possible exceptions.

Why Subject Matter Expertise is Overrated

Much like their Product Management peers, Product Marketers come into their roles from diverse experiences. Each Product Marketer's career trajectory, experiences, and the number of industries and product categories they have worked for should be reassuring that they are capable of learning new products and markets.

The core skill of product marketing is often what a company needs when deciding to add this role to the team as most companies are already filled with experts who can be leveraged when necessary. Furthermore, industry, customer, and product knowledge can be acquired through research and working closely with the product and sales teams.

When Subject Expertise Matters

In some cases, having subject matter expertise is crucial. For example, if the product is highly technical or complex, a Product Marketing Manager with relevant technical expertise may be more effective at communicating its value to technical buyers. We've seen this to be especially true in our work for tech companies in the cybersecurity and network infrastructure categories.

Ultimately, the key skills for a Product Marketing Manager and the ones you should be focusing on are: 

  • Strong communication skills
  • Strategic thinking
  • Ability to collaborate effectively with cross-functional teams

While subject matter expertise can be helpful, it is not always necessary and can be learned over time.

Need more guidance on hiring a Product Marketer? Explore our product marketing-focused blog or connect with us today!