Product Leader Amit Kumar’s Product Marketing Hiring Advice for CEOs

The role of a Vice President of Product Marketing holds an increasingly pivotal position for many scaling tech brands. As a hiring partner to many CEOs of scale ups, we’ve seen the increase in investment in product marketing and the subsequent increase of VP Product Marketing hires.

To delve deeper into the significance of this role, we sat down with Amit Kumar. With over 15 years of experience in product marketing and product management, Amit has successfully led teams and scaled B2B SaaS products from 0-1. His expertise spans across IoT, AI/ML, and B2B SaaS products, making him a valuable source of knowledge in the tech industry.

Describe the value the role of VP Product Marketing brings to a tech organization.

Vice Presidents of Product Marketing (VPPMs) can help technology organizations better understand their target market and customers, including their pain points, information consumption habits, and buying process. They can also help organizations better understand which market to focus on, the size of that market, and what it will take from a product perspective to break into it.

VPPMs also play an instrumental role in supporting and training sales teams to deliver the right messaging, objection handling, and lead qualifying. One could argue that VPPMs quarterback the entire commercial function, orchestrating various functions within the organization to create maximum impact on revenue.

The role of Product Marketing often reports into a more generalized marketing leader or a product leader. What benefit is there to having a defined VP Product Marketing level role?

This opinion may be unpopular among my marketing peers. Still, I believe product marketing should always be the foundation of other marketing functions, such as demand generation and content creation. Product marketing is responsible for defining the what and why of a product, while other marketing functions are responsible for the how.

For example, how can demand generation succeed if an organization doesn't understand its customers' pain points and how they consume information? What channels should be used to create interest, and what benefits should be highlighted in messaging? The VPPM should be the brain behind the operation while generalized marketing activities execute the plan.

When is a company ready for this level of product marketing leader?

When to bring in more formalized Product Marketing leadership depends on the growth stage and ambitions of the company. A dedicated VP of Product Marketing or product marketing as a sub-function of generalized marketing should be in place on day one. Unless a company is content to sell the same product to the same target customers and grow at a rate of 2%, not having product marketing could be a costly strategic mistake.

What qualities or experiences separate a good from a great VP Product Marketing?

There are a few qualities to look out for. A great VP of Product Marketing can see the big picture now and be able to assess where the market will be in 3 years. They should also deeply understand their target customers' needs, wants, and pain points. They should be able to leverage this understanding to develop messaging and positioning that resonates with customers and drive adoption.

An excellent VP of Product Marketing uses data to guide and support their decisions. They measure the success of their campaigns against how well they thought they would do. As with any area of business, well-laid plans are of no use without flawless execution; a great VP of Product Marketing is not just able to strategize but also execute go-to-market that delivers results.

Describe a healthy cross-functional relationship between the VP Product Marketing, VP Product, VP Marketing, and VP Engineering?

The VPPM is an excellent resource for the VP Product and VP Engineering as they try to understand what features to build and how the customer will adopt and use them. The VPPM is the eyes and ears on the ground, taking a more focused approach and strategic market view versus fixation on meeting next month's quota.

What advice do you have for a first-time Founder or CEO building out their ELT and ready to hire a VPMM?

Look for individuals with sharp business acumen and those with the demonstrated ability to immerse themselves in the market to understand its intricacies and nuances. Someone who has shown they can develop deep relationships with customers. These characteristics are so crucial because whoever you hire will need to either have those relationships or be able to build them in order to understand why anyone should buy your product.

As we conclude our insightful conversation with Amit Kumar, it is evident that a VP of Product Marketing is paramount in shaping the future of a tech organization. The right leadership in this position can be the driving force behind strategic decisions, market understanding, and, ultimately, a company's success.

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