When did product marketing get hot?

I’m hiring for a few roles on my team, and have had several discussions with recruiters this week.  One of them commented that last year Product Marketing was the role in the highest demand – that it was very competitive because everyone seemed to be hiring for it.

I should mention that she mostly works with high-growth startups in the Boston area.

I’ve been thinking about why this might be for the past few days.  Here’s what i’ve come up with.

1. She’s lying in an effort to inflate her value and increase my salary range.

Verdict: unlikely.  She’s came highly recommended from a trusted source.

2. There’s some weird perfect storm in Boston that is causing a surge in demand for this role.

Verdict: unlikely.  Most of the tech startups in Boston sell to a national or international audience.

3. All the interest in “content marketing” (driven by buyer’s access to information outside of relationships with vendors and VARs) is actually interest in what we used to call “product marketing.”

Verdict: Now we’re getting somewhere.

This idea is really interesting to me because it’s happening in my field right now.  Here’s the basics: Corporate Executive Board (and many others) suggest that buyers are 60% of the way through the buying cycle by the time they reach out directly to the vendor.

The natural takeaway to that is that if vendors want to influence these buyers, we have to get in front of them where they are looking – and that might be third-party sites, organic and paid web searches, conferences, and communities.  They aren’t simply reading an article about us, then typing our URL into their browser to learn more.

So there is a new industry of people who know how to find these buyers, and who run these communities, and conferences, and who will syndicate your content to channels where these buyers are looking, sometimes in what seems like a vendor-neutral perspective.

And it’s not to trivialize or minimize these people’s jobs, because I’ve met many of them and this is a real thing, but at the heart of it, it’s the people who understand both the technology and the buyer, and who know how to communicate it, who have to create the content.  And that’s product marketing.

Put another way, the industry is shifting from a model where buyers turn to vendor sales teams to usher them through the process to a model where buyers do more of their own research and only contact vendors later in the process.  This means vendors need to shift the makeup of sales and marketing to have fewer people in traditional sales roles.  Then there is more pressure to hire people who can create and deliver the content buyers are looking for early in the process, and participate in technical communities.

Enter product marketing.

(Psst, if you live in Boston, work in tech, and find either of these roles interesting, let me know!)

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