Since I made the switch, I often get asked, "how do you get a job in product marketing?". To those of you that are thinking this might be a good fit for you in the future, I've mapped out a few of the common paths to a career in product marketing that I've observed in Silicon Valley.
Transferring within the company- It's not uncommon to get into product marketing from a different role within the company, just as I did. Most commonly this happens from within the marketing department, but I know several people that have come from roles as diverse as sales and PR.
Here is how David James, Director of Product Marketing at Lithium Technologies did it.
Bottomline: If you're in product marketing (or want to get there), know your product/service inside and out. Meet with product managers. Become their friends. Have a seat at the PM table and be the voice of the customer."
Going to business school- Product marketing is a popular post MBA job. Companies like HP, Intel, Adobe, LinkedIn and Google will take product marketing MBA interns for the summer. This can be a great way to get your foot in the door to a career in product marketing. Many of those same companies will often hire product marketing Managers right out of business school, even if they did not intern there.
Here is how Neal Armstrong, Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Symantec did it.
"I came into B-School from the finance industry with almost no marketing experience. To learn more about product marketing I found a class that allowed students to complete projects for local companies to earn class credits. There was a project focused on marketing with Adobe. My credits were already maxed, but I joined the project anyways. Throughout the project I found out more about how vital product marketing was to an organization. I expressed my interest in continuing my work as a summer intern. The Adobe employees I worked with on the project knew I was excited about working with Adobe and they personally recommended me. I had received other internship offers from large tech companies outside of product marketing for the summer. After our final project was presented, the team manager and I sat down and talked. At the end of our discussion, and with other offers in hand, I secured my dream internship and was able to continue my project as MBA Product Marketing intern."
After some time in consulting- Lots of former consultants end up as Product Marketers, more often than not they had been consulting in a similar industry where they end of working. It's easier to get a product marketing job if you've established some domain expertise your future employer values.
Here is how Elizabeth Maples a Product Marketing Manager at LinkedIn did it.
"I went back to get my MBA a few years ago, but I was one of those “nontraditional” applicants: I’d been working on the editorial side of book publishing, where I spent my time searching for new authors to put under contract, and then working with them to turn an early idea into a physical book (ah, the days of physical books!). Coming out of business school, I knew I eventually wanted to get into (non-physical!) media or technology, but still felt like I needed to build on the strategic and analytical skills I’d learned in school. Consulting was a phenomenal training ground—and gave me the chance to work at a number of big companies in the industry. With that experience, I was much better positioned for PMM positions (and I’m loving it now!).
Pro-tips: If you’re taking the consulting route, try to get on product strategy or marketing-related projects in your desired industry. Also look for places that have a history of hiring consultants into PMM roles; they’re most likely to see the parallels in the skill-set."
These are some of the well worn paths, but there is always the road less traveled by. I would love to hear in the comments some of the other ways people have found their way into Product Marketing.