Dear SaaStr: Does It Make Sense For Your First Marketing Hire Be a Product Marketer?


Strong Disagree.  It does not make any sense, 99 times out of 100.  And you can see in this short clip, the CMOs of Zapier and HubSpot agree 😉

Generally, the CEO or another founder will hack being both the head of product, and head of product marketing, at least until a few million in ARR, often longer.

You definitely need do need senior product marketing experience as you truly scale, often at least by $8m-$10m ARR.  Because you need help in Product Marketing and positioning generally once things get complicated.

But … you need a VP of Demand Gen and/or Growth as early as $20k in MRR. That’s far, far, far earlier.  And the product usually isn’t all that complicated in the earlier days. 

You need help in Demand Gen as soon as you have even a tiny stream of growing customers. And the hire should be almost immediately accretive.

Net net, here’s my #1 suggestion:

For your first Head/VP of Marketing, do not hire someone with a VP of Product Marketing, Communications, or Corporate Marketing Background.  You don’t need that in the earlier days.  You need someone that knows how to get you leads.  For real.

And make sure they truly have experience building pipeline and know how to do. Not just that they’ll hire someone on their team to do it.  That never works.

More here: I Hired My VP of Marketing at $20k MRR. It Wasn’t a Week Too Early.

And a classic related post here:

Hire the Right Type of VP Marketing — Or You’ll Just End Up With a Bunch of Blue Pens with Your Logo On Them

(grow image from here)

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