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8 Traits Leaders Look for When Hiring Product Marketers

Hiring the perfect product marketer with the right combination of skills for your organization is no easy feat. In a recent blog post, we discussed what product marketing actually is. Although product marketing has no clear-cut definition, we’re able to summarize product marketing as a unique role that sits at the center of product, marketing, sales, and customer success. Essentially, product marketing touches every team within an organization. 

That’s why the role of a product marketer is so broad. Within every organization and every team, a product marketer is likely to have a different area of expertise. When it comes to product marketing, the skills needed for success vary. 

We asked product marketing leaders what they look for when hiring on their teams. The following are the eight product marketing skills that can help anyone succeed in the role. 

Let’s get started! 

1. Strong Communicator and Storyteller 

Not only do product marketers need to be strong verbal communicators, but they also need to be great storytellers with the ability to translate technical language into public-facing messaging. Great product marketers are able to craft strong narratives that reach their target audience and attract potential customers. 

“Must be a strong communicator, whether that is written or spoken. I also look for people with analytical minds and intellectual curiosity. They need to be able to build trust in many departments: sales, PM, engineering, and customer success.” - Rachel Dines, Head of Product Marketing at Chronosphere 

2. Cross-Functional Work Experience 

Product marketers need to communicate and collaborate with all teams within an organization to ensure smooth product launches and promotions. Product marketers work closely with marketing, product, sales, and customer success teams on a daily basis. Working collaboratively with multiple teams helps the product marketer gain insight into market needs, customer reviews, as well as overall successes. 

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3. Entrepreneurial Mindset 

We can’t say this enough: product marketers are responsible for a lot. Whether you’re at a small start-up or a large enterprise, product marketers are wearing many different hats. Sometimes, plans can shift at the drop of a hat. Product marketers need to be able to solve problems, pivot, and keep moving forward to get the results they’re looking for. 

“For product marketers, I look for individuals who can break down situations well, and work backward from a team goal. The biggest challenge of being in product marketing is working cross-functionally and cross-team to be able to win more deals, launch successful products, and move important metrics such as pipeline creation. Some of the smartest product marketers I know are fantastic communicators and have an entrepreneurial mindset.” -Ryan MacInnis, Product Marketing Lead, Products Marketplace, LinkedIn

4. Customer-Centric

Being customer-centric is a critical skill needed for a product marketer. At the end of the day, your product is being built to solve a problem your customer is experiencing. So, product marketers need to understand their customers’ pain points and work with other teams across the org to solve for the customer. Understanding the customer and the greater market is necessary in order to create messaging that resonates with the target audience. 

5. Competitor Conscious

Customer-centric and competitor-conscious go hand in hand. While customers are at the center of everything product marketers do, they need to be aware of their competitive landscape, too. Commonly, competitive intelligence research is an integral component of a product marketer’s job. If the product marketer is competitor conscious, they will be able to craft strong messaging that not only resonates with their target audience, but gives them a unique competitive advantage. 

"Product marketers should strive to embrace customer-centricity and competitor-consciousness equally to formulate a strong narrative position relative to others in their market. A siloed focus on one over the other engenders an apathetic response to your message, either because your buyer fails to understand how you serve them, or because they fail to see a reason to deviate from their status quo." - Ben Cope, Demand Generation Manager, Recorded Future

6. Technical Knowledge 

Technical knowledge is especially important for those who work with hardware or software. A main responsibility of a product marketer is to translate the information from the product team and get the messaging ready to go-to-market. 

“When hiring PMMs, I look for a blend of technical aptitude, go-to-market experience, and storytelling ability. In addition, for each PMM role that I hire, I'm keenly focused on the attributes that I can train-up versus what I need someone to have walking in the door - this will vary from role to role based on the needs of the product line and its stage of lifecycle maturity, competitive landscape, etc.” - Greg Lord, VP of Marketing, Elastic Path Software

7. Emotional Intelligence 

We’ve already discussed working cross-functionally. When you’re working with multiple different teams across the organization, many different issues could arise with product launches, messaging, or other internal initiatives. Product marketers need to have strong emotional intelligence, and should be competent problem solvers, so that they can handle whatever comes their way. 

“The skills that I look for are technical knowledge, empathy, emotional intelligence, and problem-solving abilities.” - Product Marketing Leader, Software Company 

8. Attention to Detail 

With so much on the plate of every product marketer, product marketers need to ensure they don’t miss anything important. From launches to collateral to competitive intelligence deliverables, product marketers need to be on their A-game at all times. Having strong attention to detail is a critical skill needed for product marketing success. 

Product marketers wear many hats within their organization. While not every product marketing role is the same, the skill sets sought out by product marketing leaders have a lot of overlap. Next time you’re hiring for a product marketer, or if you’re interviewing as a product marketing candidate, keep these traits in mind to help you build the best product marketing team

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Originally published on December 27, 2018. Updated on February 19, 2021. 

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