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What Is A Director Of Product Marketing?

Product positioning can make or break your business. A whopping 40% of all new products fail, so you simply can’t afford to botch the early launch.

But there’s no need to stress about doing everything right on your own. That’s why thousands of companies hire a director of product marketing — to ensure their product stands out from the crowd.

New Product Failure Rate by Industry

A director of product marketing should be a key player for any business. The work they produce is indispensable for growing brands, especially startups and scaleups.

But what exactly is a director of product marketing? And are they a good fit for your organization?

We’re going to take a closer look so you can make a decision for yourself.

What Is Product Marketing?

Let’s begin by defining our terms.

Product marketing refers to creating, implementing, and testing a marketing process on products, a line of products, or products not yet released. The primary focus is on customer positioning, such as finding ways to resolve pain points through advertising, marketing, and product implementation. 

Most product marketing strategies are cross-discipline in nature. This means they cover a variety of tasks, including:

  • A/B testing (think packaging, pricing, and positioning)
  • Content marketing (like blogs, articles, and social media)
  • Market research (such as a competitive analysis)

When used correctly, long-term product marketing strategies lead to lifelong customers, brand ambassadors, and of course, a successful product launch.

You just have to find the right director of product marketing to bring said strategy to life.

💡 Case Study: PepsiCo

Let’s put product marketing into context by looking at PepsiCo, one of the most recognizable conglomerates in the US.

To position their products as highly desirable, the brand:

  • Heavily targets younger demographics
  • Uses repetitive advertising to create a consistent brand voice and USP
  • Leans on prior data and brand interactions to make new products (like bubly burst)


What Does A Director Of Product Marketing Do?

Director of Product Marketing Google Trend

Directors of product marketing are responsible for marketing processes at all stages of product development. Strategy and planning are their primary objectives, followed by data analysis after products hit the shelves. 

Product marketing directors can take leadership and supervisory roles during the go-live and post-reception phases of product development. As you’ll see below, they often work with a team of professionals to meet critical deadlines and measure campaign impact.

Who Do Directors of Product Marketing Work With?

Directors of product marketing usually own the entire creation and implementation of product strategy. You can think of them as brand scientists, or the liaisons between hard data and creative imaging. 

In order to make the magic happen, these professionals must collaborate with other strategy and marketing experts.

The most common collaborations occur between directors and:

  • In-house or freelance marketing writers
  • Advertising and creative specialists
  • Technical marketing managers
  • Consumer behavior specialists
  • Market research analysts
  • Product developers
  • Product marketing managers (PMMs)
  • Product managers

Keep in mind product marketing managers are not the same thing as product managers — one is tasked with marketing the product while the other focuses on creating it.

💡 What’s a Product Manager vs a Product Marketing Manager?

Said simply, product managers create products. In contrast, product marketing managers market said products.

You can expect a product manager to:

  • Build a product roadmap
  • Own the production strategy
  • Act as a project manager with multiple stakeholders

On the other hand, a product marketing manager will:

  • Encourage consumer interest in the product launch
  • Perform various marketing activities
  • Measure the success of each campaign

A director of product marketing should have experience with both skill sets. Many of their responsibilities tap into both professions, as you’ll see below.

What are the Responsibilities of a Director of Product Marketing?

If you’re planning on hiring a director of product marketing, or if you’re interested in taking a job in the field, you might expect to be tasked with some of these marketing responsibilities:

  • Developing solid product positioning and consistent messaging for customers.
  • Overseeing product launches, as well as customer movement from awareness to adoption.
  • Collaborating with C-level executives and experts, including a head of marketing and head of growth.
  • Absorbing and sorting data to develop meaningful insights for future use.

How Much Do You Pay a Director of Product Marketing?

Thanks to their familiarity with data and an ability to work under pressure, directors of product marketing are paid top dollar for their services. 

You might expect an average annual salary of $172,383 (depending on where you live). The lowest end of the spectrum hovers around $90,000, while the highest earners gross over $534,000 per year.

These are just general ranges, however. As product-led marketing becomes the norm rather than the exception, the average director’s salary will only continue to rise.

What Skills Should a Director of Product Marketing Have?

Directors of product marketing typically have some level of experience in both sales and marketing. Research and analytical skills are extremely important, as well as a showcased history of successful strategy implementation.

The most frequently requested skills in product marketing job descriptions include:

  • SaaS
  • Data management
  • Business intelligence
  • Product management and implementation
  • Familiarity with technical industries
  • Social media
  • Marketing strategy
  • Vendor management

Product marketing directors with hands-on experience have a few other things to add:

“[Directors of product marketing] got to have a mix of traits tied to strategic thinking, cross-functional execution, and of course, messaging acumen.”

Leo Castro, ex-Director of Product Marketing at BigCommerce 

“An excellent product marketer is customer-obsessed. They’ve built a set of practices that keep them regularly in touch with customers and ultimately produce significantly more effective messaging and content.”

Jordan Greene, ex-Senior Director of Product Marketing at Outreach 

“The best PMMs are trilingual: they can speak product, client needs, and sales.”

Stephen Kane, Product Marketer at Altruist

Where Product Marketing Directors Work

Before we talk about the reasons to hire a product marketing director, it’s a good idea to understand the types of brands and industries that need them most. 

Product marketers are heavily associated with B2C organizations, but B2B and SaaS also have a need for highly trained experts. 

They’re also heavily recruited in technology or software development fields, especially by brands such as Microsoft, Salesforce, and Google.

There’s currently an enormous industry for product marketers at organizations like:

  • ScreenCloud
  • Remote
  • Unbounce
  • Auctane
  • HackerOne
  • PayPal
  • Gong
  • Privy
  • HighSpot
  • Vanguard
  • Momentive.ai

When To Hire A Director Of Product Marketing

Any organization should consider consultations with a product marketer, especially in its beginning phases. However, if there is any doubt about overhead or size, or if your business is struggling to allocate funds into different areas, you may want to hold off until a future date. 

Your company might be in desperate need of a product marketing director if:

  • You consistently struggle to launch new products. This is especially relevant if you launch dozens of products per year.
  • You need better insight into customer awareness and acquisition. You’ll need an experienced director with knowledge of the B2B marketing funnel.
  • You can’t leverage enough data to make meaningful insights. A director of product marketing can help you do so at scale.
  • You require a secondary marketing team specifically for products. This is especially relevant for 
  • You plan to release a flagship product within the next few years. If you’re a seed-level startup, you may need the expertise of a qualified product marketing director.

Keep in mind you may need to hire more than one product marketing professional. Complex products may require product marketing specialists, while rapid innovations and frequent product releases may require the help of a product marketing agency.

To summarize: if you operate in a highly complex market, or if your leads require a very long sales cycle, a director of product marketing may be a strategic hiring decision.

Of course, it’s not necessarily the best strategic decision for every business.

You might want to avoid hiring a director of product marketing if:

  • You don’t yet have a stable product management team. Newer organizations or startups with limited capital might find it hard to justify more than $100,000 per year (plus benefits) on a full-time product marketer.
  • Your team is still relatively small. You should focus on hiring the most effective professional for your stage of growth (such as sales to boost your bottom line).
  • Your business doesn’t launch a frequent stream of products. A single product is usually enough to manage in-house for a time.

If any of these points apply to your business, you may want to wait to hire a director of product marketing.

Where to Hire a Director of Product Marketing

A good product marketing director can get your products into the public eye. A great product marketing director can help you build sustainable strategies for years to come.

But professionals like these don’t grow on trees — and in today’s competitive hiring environment, knowing where to look is key to success.

Here’s where to find highly qualified product marketing directors:

  • Start with your network. As many as 80% of job positions begin and end in your personal circle.
  • Consider nontraditional job boards. Try posting on subreddits like r/ProductMarketing or reaching out to candidates or influencers on LinkedIn. 
  • Look at career-specific hiring boards. DevRel Careers, for example, works in the technical/developer recruitment niche.

Is Hiring A Director Of Product Marketing Worth It?

A director of product marketing can be a powerful element of any late stage marketing strategy — keyword being late stage. If you’re a startup, a small business, or a company that doesn’t deal with high volumes of product, it might not make sense to hire a full-time director right away. 

It might be more economical for your business to manage product releases in-house (or contract with freelancers to help with basic tasks).

You could also turn to a team like Draft.dev to produce tutorials, social media, and video content for your upcoming releases.

What could this look like for your growing brand?

Here’s our visual style guide to get you started.

Meagan Shelley

By Meagan Shelley

Meagan is a professional writer in VA that specializes in content marketing, research, and SEO. If she's not helping people craft their own stories, she's working on some of her own. When she takes time to step away from the laptop, she enjoys hiking, farmer's markets, and occasional thru-hikes.