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By far the best talent pool for hiring an industry marketing professional is from the technology vendor community.  There are several reasons why I prefer hiring from other vendors (versus corporations in the industry):

  1. Transparency – The level of transparency is highest for hires from other vendors.  The candidate will have been performing industry marketing in their current role.   A brief visit to the individual’s web site, blog or SlideShare account will provide invaluable insights into their analytical thinking, business writing and content creation skills.
  2. Experience – Having practical real-world experience in the vendor role means that the candidate understands the challenges, expectations and behavior characteristics necessary for success.  You can save yourself six months of having to educate and retrain a new hire.  Instead your new hire can arrive to work on day one prepared to make an immediate impact.

The other sources for industry marketing candidates each will have positive and negative trade-offs which need to be considered before hiring.  Below are my thoughts:

  • Consulting Firms – Few consulting organizations limit their employee’s career paths to a specific sub-sector within an industry.  Consequently, an Accenture consultant from the retail sector will probably have experience in two or more of the sub-segments – grocery, home improvement, department store and mass merchandising.  An Arthur D Little management consultant from the automotive industry will have depth in multiple manufacturing tiers – OEM, Tier 1-3 suppliers and perhaps even dealers.   The nature of the consulting role requires these professionals to be strong writers, presenters and strategic thinkers – all skills required in the industry marketing discipline.
  • Industry Associations – Professionals from industry associations, standards organizations and lobbying firms represent strong candidates as well.  These organizations are typically very lean requiring employees to wear multiple hats.  Consequently, many of the employees in these non-profit companies learn how to develop powerful messaging and positioning.  Be when evaluating candidates who have only worked in non-profit environments.  These individuals may not have the necessary understanding of commercial, growth-oriented models to be effective.
  • Market Research Firms – There are only a few hundred industry analysts within the technology sector that also have vertical industry expertise.   And only a handful of these research experts are likely to switch from the analyst role into a vendor marketing position.  If you are able to convert one then consider yourself lucky.   Most former analysts will excel at market analysis, product requirements, public speaking engagements and thought leadership activities.  Analysts will also be well practiced at formulating ideas and concepts in structured, well organized written documents.  Be aware that in the larger firms these analysts are often supported by a large staff of writers, statisticians and graphic artists.  Consequently they may not be capable of producing the high-quality final deliverables produced by the research firms.  In some cases, an investment in support staff may be required.
Steve Keifer

Steve Keifer has led marketing and product management teams at seven different SaaS and cloud providers ranging from venture-backed, early-stage startups to multi-billion, publicly traded companies - including several that experienced hypergrowth, filed IPOs, and reached unicorn status. In Bantrr, Steve shares many of the best practices and lessons learned from building and scaling marketing organizations. Topics include new category creation, brand development, and demand generation.

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