Web 2.0 companies offer product marketing leaders an exceptionally challenging and rich career opportunity. However, in hiring, assessing which candidates are going to be truly great Web 2.0 product marketers can be tough.
There are several characteristics that are common to all good product marketing executives in technology. First, they should be deeply passionate for your market. Second, they need an appreciation for, and be current on, feasible design and development approaches. Last, great product marketing executives play a key role in an organization through their masterful interpretation of what their specific market wants in the way of features, functionality, content and rollout.
The Web 2.0 environment, however, demands a unique set of attributes for product marketers:
Vision tempered with humility. Asking customers what they want in a product is a lame way to do market research. Your customers often cannot articulate what they want. They look to you to invent it. These consumers do not want to be dictated to; they want involvement and the opportunity for feedback. Just ask the guys at Facebook. So when you look for that visionary candidate, be sure he is balanced with humility.
A belief in people. It's not possible to be a successful Web 2.0 product marketer if you don't have an inherent trust in the power of the group. If you can't embrace the idea that the user community will make Wikipedia accurate, if your stomach turns when your CEO blogs, if you have a burning desire to edit content that's been posted to your site, you have no place in the Web 2.0 space.
Socially cognizant. Product marketing is a “futures” business; and, as such, great Web 2.0 product marketers are contemporary and observant of societal trends within their markets. It's very difficult to assess if a product marketing candidate will be successful in a youth- or teen-oriented market like a MySpace. Probe hard—you are looking for roll-up-the-sleeves, creative, hands-on interactions.
Collaborators. A good product marketing executive plays an integral role in the development of software, forming a key bridge in linking customers with engineering. But in this generation of Web development, the real group you need to be collaborating with is your customer base: seeking feedback through beta programs, through active blogs and by being accessible.
Make the effort to land the right leader for product marketing. It can make all the difference to your company, winning the hearts and minds of your customer base.
Vikki Pachera is the founder and a partner at Pachera Group, an executive search firm. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.