Why B2B product marketers have higher salaries with Rohan Modi, Global Head of Product Marketing at ComplyAdvantage
Product marketers are low in supply and high in demand at the moment, especially in the B2B tech space. The role requires a niche specialism, and deep understanding of both product and marketing, with the skillset to match.
Rohan shared his take on product marketing; how it's perceived, what is really is, and what makes a great product marketer.
This episode covers:
- When should a B2B tech company hire a product marketer?
- Should product marketing sit on the product or marketing team?
- Why has product marketing taken off in recent years?
- Why is it so hard to hire product marketers right now?
- What is a product marketers relationship with the product team?
- Should a product marketer have a product or marketing background?
- How is B2B product marketing all encompassing?
- How can you measure the success of B2B product marketing?
- How does B2B product marketing differ between startups and enterprises?
Listen to the full episode here:
And check out more of the FINITE B2B marketing podcast here!
Hello and welcome back to the FINITE Podcast where today on this episode, I'm joined by Rohan Modi, who is Global Head of Product Marketing at ComplyAdvantage, a FinTech providing anti-money laundering technology.
Rohan is a great person to talk to about product marketing. He has a lot of experience designing and managing go to market strategies at high performing financial technology businesses.
Today, we're gonna dig into what makes a great product marketer, why there seems to be a lack of product marketers out there right now, why product marketing skills are in so much demand and what product marketing really entails. So who knows, maybe you'll consider a slight career shift once you've listened. I hope you enjoy!
The FINITE community is kindly supported by The Marketing Practice, a global integrated B2B marketing agency that brings together all the skills you need to design and run account-based marketing, demand generation, channel, and customer marketing programs. Head to themarketingpractice.com to learn more.
Hello Rohan, thank you for joining me on the podcast.
Hey Alex, how are you? Hi everyone, this is Rohan Modi. I am the global product marketing director here at ComplyAdvantage. My responsibilities at the moment include everything under the sun that requires product marketing. So, I think the first question that really comes out is what is product marketing? And is what is that discipline really about? So I'll give you a little summary Alex, of what we do.
So if I had to put it in one sentence, it's we are the driving force behind getting products to market, and making sure we keep them there. We are the overarching voice of the customer, we are the masterminds, we are the enablers of the sales team and we're the accelerators of adoption. So, to make it sound really cool, really awesome, but that's exactly what we do.
Good summary. Tell us a little bit about ComplyAdvantage and your team there, where the product marketing director role fits into the wider marketing team?
So, we've been around for about 8 years now. Our founder, Charles Stalinpole, he's the master behind all of this. And when he founded it, there was a big need to be able to have a financial compliance technology prevention company that can come in and speak about AML compliance in a way that it's insightful, provides context and really able to solve the needs of today's financial institutions. Everything from sanctions, PEPs, persons exposed, the ability for us to have negative news on individuals.
What we do at the end of the day, from a product marketing standpoint is really help answer the question for our clients, should we do business with that entity? It. could be an individual, or it could be a corporation. We've really come out there to answer that question. Now there's a lot that goes underneath it, right? But at the end of the day, that's what we do and the way we do it is through technology's and eventually through all the insights we provide.
And how big is the marketing team overall?
We have a pretty large marketing team I would say. Close to 20/25, but the product marketing team is a mighty small two of us, with the ability for us to hire a few more over the next months.
When should a B2B tech company hire a product marketer?
Cool. Sounds exciting. I asked that question about size because I'm always interested in kinda at what point product marketing starts to fit in. Obviously some of our listeners will be much smaller, 20, 50 people startups, maybe with one generalist marketer in house, others will be in enterprises.
I'm always interested in when, because I think naturally any marketer has to do a degree of product marketing, even if it's just them, product marketing spans channels and everything to some extent if you're a single marketer.
I think it has evolved over the past decade. I think if you had asked me this question in the past decade, I would say around series D for a company, when they're somewhat established, have a brand, have a product team that's in place and then the CMO comes in and then they see the need for product marketing.
Now what I've been seeing is as part of the original leadership team that the CMO hires, product marketing is a table staple then. Just as you said. We sort of touch everything within the life cycle of a product, everything from the ideation of the product, as it comes through the product team and funnels in, all the way from the messaging of the product, understanding of how that market that happens within our industry, to really taking it to our customers, keeping it there and then providing that feedback.
So we are fully in that 360 degree view of a product and we touch so many different teams, right? There's product, there's customer success, there's sales, there's marketing. And the interesting part about product marketing right now is we can sit either in the marketing team or the product team.
Should B2B product marketing sit on the product or marketing team?
I was gonna ask, because I think I usually see the role in the marketing team, but it feels like it just as easily sit in the product team.
Yeah. And I've been on both sides of the equation and sometimes started in one and ended up in the other. And the reason for that is product marketing as a discipline never changes. What changes is the circumstances that we come into, depending on the role of the firm, the position of the firm, where the firm is and how they really relate.
So, I can take, for example, the need for us around sales enablement, content generation, the revenue drivers that would come in and fill out the funnel, from middle and bottom end. So that's where my team started, and now we're going to go out, so now we're very much going to get processes in place, then bring the market to the product and then the customers to the product, right?
So we sort of did an in to an out, however other places have started where the product team have come in and brought the market to them and then worked with the marketing team. Again, it all depends on the circumstances, the opportunity that the firm presents. As product marketers, we have to be ready to be able to do either or, and be nimble enough.
Why has B2B product marketing taken off in recent years?
And you mentioned that you've seen a shift in the product marketing role, being focused on earlier traditionally series D but maybe one of the first roles in the marketing team. And I have had other CMOs on the podcast say like, high number one would be product marketing. We can talk about some of the demand in the market for good product marketers, but why do you think that's really moved forwards? And marketing's taken off more in the last few years?
I'm sure many marketers are not going to be happy with this but I think product marketing is a strategy beyond the marketing team. We see the fuller picture, coming in, having the messaging that is relevant to not only just the product, but the overall company. How do we come in?
So when I first came to ComplyAdvantage, the first task was how do we do all our messaging? How do we speak about this in a different way, to represent the more mature us. So many of the times when product marketers come in, they're tasked with some of these pieces, but at the same time, it's how do we have a cohesive voice across the organisation?
So they want us to be able to come in because we're not just a sales enablement tool, we're not just a product tool, we're a combination of everything. And as we do each of these tasks at hand, we really bring the company together and it's sort of a niche skill that you need to have in order to be able to get there.
Why is it so hard to hire B2B product marketers right now?
Absolutely makes sense. And I think from a lot of people I've spoken to, they've really struggled with finding product marketing talent recently in the market. And there seems to be a lot of demand from more junior levels to like VP of product marketing and beyond. I've just known so many people who seem to be struggling. Why do you think so?
First and foremost, I'm struggling, I'll be very honest. I've been trying to hire people, not a plug here but maybe a plug. First and foremost, there aren't many of us, the discipline is somewhat new, right? It's been around maybe a couple of decades at tops, but even before it wasn't called product marketing, it was called various different things.
Usually folks that come into product marketing, they don't come into product marketing straight from college. So they're coming in as a marketing manager, they're stumbling upon product marketing. They're figuring out the disciplines on their own. Many companies still lack the product marketing discipline or leader who can really guide the product marketing team. So what happens is either folks stumbled onto it. They like it, they don't.
And what I'm seeing is, when I'm looking to hire somebody, I look for the raw skills that they have for product marketing. A lot of that includes empathy for your customers. It's the ability for you to be engaging, almost like a sales individual, but internal sales. This is because you have to get your point across to various different organisations or team members, so you really need to do a lot of selling.
For me, it's very hard to find the jack of all trades, and the salary requirements also happen to be a little bit higher than the normal marketing individual. So putting it all together, it is making it a little bit difficult, cause it's a niche discipline. However, I think not having enough folks to be able to talk about what product marketing is, is hindering that for us.
Yeah. And in terms of attributes, skill sets. I mean, you talked a bit about the Jack of all trades, but master of some or I think Google talked about the kinda T-shaped person where you've got a depth of specialism. And as you said, your niche and then a wider skillset, is that part of the problem that the attributes of a great product marketer are quite a well rounded marketing background and skill, or maybe they've come from a product background. We'll talk about that next in terms of the ideal background.
Good question. So for us, I think you're right. It is a T-shape right? It's a mile wide and 3 miles deep. The 3 miles deep has to be more on the product and technical knowledge. So, how you use both sides of your brain is really what a product market needs to do. Take the technical and put it in layman's terms. And if you're able to do that on a regular basis, either with a small capability or messaging for the company, then you truly are a great marketer.
I've also said empathy, I truly think that if you can empathise with a product you're selling, if the product is something that you really feel close to, then you make it more of a mission of yours because it's a natural extension of who you are. For me, I've always wanted to work with companies where I empathise on the product. Never once have I said yes to somebody else. So many of these overarching themes are there.
The other piece is yes, they can come from a marketing background, they can come from a product background. However, you know, I saw this great meme on product market just the other day. And it was an elephant and a zebra, or another animal, the elephant was the marketer and the zebra was product. And then they had this contorted version of this elephant and the zebra called the product marketing. That is not the case, right? That is not who we are. We're a completely separate entity.
And I think that is the biggest misconception, is that we're either product or marketing, we're neither. Depending on who we are, we're a subset of both, but probably the stepchild of neither, if that makes sense.
Interesting. Yeah. And you mentioned that you've worked in product teams and in marketing teams, which do you think is the best? I guess you've almost put forward an argument there for it being a standalone function entirely, not that within marketing or product.
I truly do believe that. I think that product marketing needs a seat at the table, I think we're completely agnostic. I've worked with both and what happens is as a product marketer, you sway one way or another depending on the team you're in. And I truly believe that the work needs to be 50/50 between product and marketing. So if you're part of the marketing team it may be 70/30 marketing, if you're on the product team, it may be 70/30 product. So product marketing needs to stay agnostic. It's not about one or the other it's where the need is and how we then facilitate that need.
What is a B2B product marketer's relationship with the product team?
And maybe you can touch on that a bit more about, at least now what you've experienced, how that relationship with a product team actually works. I think we so often talk about marketing being close to sales and the importance of sales and marketing alignment. Maybe that's more in an enterprise space, which I guess is kind of where you guys are to some extent, but at the same time in a more SaaS, product-led growth environments, I think marketing and product are naturally more in line.
So I guess it feels like it depends a little bit on the sales motion. Is it more enterprise? Is it more product led, self-serve, onboarding. What's your experience with that relationship with product rather than the relationship with sales, as is often the case when we talk about marketing?
I think if you are talking about a decade ago, the majority of the product teams were hesitant to have a product marketer because they didn't understand the scope of product marketing and they believed there would be an overlap between what they do and how they do it.
So as I come to any organisation, as I get in front of my product team, what we do is we go through and tell them what's in scope and out of scope for us. So for us, everything that's in scope is working with them to have a shared responsibility of research and analysis.
So which includes market and user research, competitor analysis, segmentation, those shared responsibilities between a product manager and a product marketer. Marketing strategy, launch, channel plans, are all responsibilities of the product marketing manager.
And then business objectives have shared responsibilities between product managers and product marketing managers. And where I come in is I set real boundaries between what it is that we're doing, what it is that we're not doing.
What's out of scope for us is defining the roadmap. We do not do data or user testing, we help facilitate it and we get all the insights. So this is where we come in and we say, this is where we define the scope. And this is how we would like to move forward.
Just to add one more piece of that. I'm certified in pragmatic marketing framework. And so are many of the product teams, so we really go that and the product team, I had a sigh of relief from them, thank God you guys are here to help us with this. It was a good natural progression for them to where they were to where we're going. In the past it always used to be like, we don't need you here, we've got this. Now they're more like, no we need you here, please help us with this. So times have changed and they have grown so it's really good to see.
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Should a B2B product marketer have a product or marketing background?
I was gonna ask you a difficult question, which was, if you were forced to hire a product marketer off the back of just two blind CVs, no interviews, but two strong CVs, one had come from a product background, one had come from a marketing background. It's never gonna happen in this situation, but is there one that you would lean more towards?
I'm gonna answer with what my need is at the moment for the team. If I had to pick that right now, currently, I would pick the marketing. My needs are more towards lead generation, the funnel, getting folks through from top all the way down and conversions.I need someone with that marketing ability for them to be able to do it.
If you ask me in six months, I say I want the product individual because as I told you, we're moving from marketing and strategy over to more research and business objectives. I would want that product individual. So, as I said earlier, it all depends on the need of the organisation when you come in and then you build a team out.
Why are product marketing salaries higher than general B2B marketing managers?
Makes sense. And budgets, salaries we touched on a little bit. You said that, and this has been my experience too, that maybe salaries are a little bit higher than the rest of the marketing landscape. Is that just a simple supply and demand problem whereby there aren't enough good, qualified people there and those that are commanding a higher salary?
I believe so. I think it's a supply/demand, but I also believe that the expertise of discipline is also quite niche in this sense. So it does require a lot more from an individual. So I do believe that we as product marketers do a little bit more than your atypical marketing manager only cause our scope and our responsibilities are far broader and more varying than the individual. Not to say they're more important or anything I'm just saying that we vary more in terms of what we do.
And so with that in mind, we've talked a bit about background already, but do you think someone coming from a more generalist... I mean, this is a topic we cover a lot, but like, generalist background, specialist background, is it better to be specialist earlier in your career and then broaden out or vice versa?
And I guess a similar question could be asked of the product marketing role. Is it more useful if someone's had a long history of more generalist, top level marketing roles or actually coming from a content or digital marketing, demand gen type role and can then broaden out into product marketing?
That's a good question. And I've sort of seen this throughout my career when I've hired folks straight out of college. I gave them the ability to be generalists and let them understand. One of my former colleagues comes to mind. She came in as a product marketing manager, but as we exposed her to more digital marketing, she fell in love with it and this is what she's doing. And she realised product marketing wasn't for her but you as a leader need to be aware of your colleagues and who they really are, and that really was what makes it true.
To me, you come in, I wanna make you the best professional that you are, not the best product marketer, not the best generalist, not anything, it's what you desire to be. I think that really will be the telltale for everyone, and yeah she's thriving right now as a digital market, but you know, she just couldn't fall in love with product marketing and that's okay.
Yeah. It makes sense. Every now and then we have to recognise where our strengths are and play to those strengths as much as we can. It sounds great that you're able to provide that environment because I think a lot of bosses may not be as generous as to provide that environment where change or accepting that is okay. It can be difficult sometimes.
At the end of the day, you have to be true to yourself.
How is B2B product marketing all encompassing?
I was gonna talk a bit about where product marketing fits into an overall marketing strategy. But I feel like you summarised that really well from the beginning. I think it's quite clear that your belief is that it, to some extent, overarches everything. It's not a channel, it's not a discipline that just falls under one part of an overall go to market strategy. It's actually all encompassing across everything that you do.
It is yeah, it's really all encompassing. And I think one of the big challenges that we have is sometimes we do become very spread thin. So just by the nature of the job, understanding the market, understanding the customers, understanding the product, understanding the vision for the companies, the business objectives for the organisation, you do become somewhat spread thin and you may be pulled to various different directions.
So I truly do believe that being in one or the other, it's a great start. But eventually I think as organisations mature and as a discipline matures, we truly do need to see that too, because we have a very different purview, in how we think about the business and our objectives.
It's very different from marketing which is very much revenue generation. Product is very much development and innovation generated. So we want to make sure that we take all of that and help where we can. So I truly do believe that we are an entity of our own within our organisation. I know we're getting there and Salesforce is a great example of such product marketing.
How can you measure the success of B2B product marketing?
Yeah. And your point there around measured on revenue or leads is an interesting one. Because I guess it naturally begs the question, how do you measure the success of product marketing, particularly if it is a standalone function?
It's a great question. I've always struggled with this, right? Because some of our KPIs are quite nebulous, and I truly a fan of the amount of content being created, it's all about the impact. So I've thought about this, and what the KPIs really are for product marketer is win rates of our clients within specific products and what we've been able to do.
Conversion rates, right? I'm not looking at leads, but I'm looking at the conversions from top of the funnel down all the way to buy in rates. I'm looking at analyst relations, how are we getting in front of the analysts, are they talking about us on various different vantage points as to what our products and our solutions can really bring to the market.
From a sales enablement standpoint, it's the asset utilisation, which is really interesting. But think about all the different assets we create, it's not the quantity of the assets but the quality of the asset that is being used and furthering the conversation. Deal cycles, how do we reduce the deal cycles to make sure that they're the most optimum and enable the team and win loss ratio is really what I look at.
From a marketing standpoint, what I'm looking at is the performance of our campaigns. How are they performing, site traffic is another big one for us and conversion funnel again for us. And from a product standpoint, it's the adoption of the product. I never say we own the roadmap, we just show them and pull out the insights that influence it. But adoption of the product, launches and how successful they've been. What are the features and what sort of adoption they look at and then the churn rate within each of those features and within the product is what we look for.
How does B2B product marketing differ between startups and enterprises?
So again, quite a wide set of metrics, spanning lots of different things, I guess that reflection we've talked about, which is great. We talked a bit earlier about, I guess that relationship with product maybe differing, depending on whether you're in a product led growth environment where you're selling $10 a month subscriptions that people can just create an account and get going versus, quarter a million a year deal in a very enterprise six month sales journey. How do you see product marketing differ across those two ends of the spectrum of sales motion?
Yeah. Alex, I think one things that we help product do is help them prioritise their product releases. So to me, a product or capability, it's not about the generation of the revenue that it can bring in, but it's the impact it has on the individual or that client. So what I look for is the impact that product has on the organisation and on our clients and our customer base.
And the way we speak to the product team is all about your features there, I need you to classify this feature by an impact category. Category 1,2 or 3. So what does that mean? Impact one, the largest, most evolving hits all of the buckets that I've said. It's a new product that is going great for revenue, also great to build customer, everything that we want, it's great. Impact 3 is bug fixes.
And then the severity of these impacts really also impact the communication we do, the go to market launches we have, everything that goes around it, really sets off with this impact and the priority that we put on for each of these capabilities.
Makes sense. I feel like I've learned a lot, cause I've always had lots of questions around the product marketing role and sometimes I'll admit, struggled understanding when and where it fits in. And I think you've said some, some insights there. So thank you. Maybe a few final questions that we can wrap up with. An interesting one I always ask is any favourite kinda tool or technology that you're working with at the moment?
Uberflip. Content journey optimisation. As a product marketer, this is a tool that this must have, right? We work within the marketing team, we need to prioritise that and as we think about the funnel, as we think about the conversions, this is a tool that needs use.
And the biggest challenge? I have a feeling you might say hiring a great product marketer.
I was going to say that but then I've realised that that would be the easy cop out. So I'm gonna take the harder one, which is the ability for us to manage all the new technology that has now come in within the MarTech stack, right?
If you just go ahead and look for them, there's so many different tools, so many great tools which are out there, and the question is where do you prioritise? Where do you need to go? And you know, I think that gets overwhelming. Two decades ago there were maybe 4, 5, 10. Now everything is a top 50 MarTech technology that you must have. How do we prioritise that?
And ending on a positive, looking forward, what are you most excited about in the world of B2B product marketing?
Innovation. Things that we're able to do now, we couldn't do a decade ago and that's what I'm excited about. The insights! I'm a data junkie, so the insights that we can get from all these different MarTech tools that I've spoken about, it's phenomenal. It's really helping us understand that buyer, understand that journey and making us more impactful with how we go to market as product marketers, what content types are really relevant, where do we want to put this? How do we want to go about it? It's so exciting to be able to have all the information at your hand and the ability to synthesise it.
Cool. Exciting looking forwards. Who knows, someone listening to this may well be in touch and you may find your next product marketer.
I surely hope so.
It's happened before, believe it or not, through the podcast. It has happened before, so could happen again, but thanks again Rohan for sharing, it's been a pleasure talking.
It's been a pleasure here as well. Thank you so much, Alex.
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