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Introduction to Product Marketing Management
Between understanding the market and the ideal audience, developing launch and communication strategies, and executing on marketing plans, a product marketing manager (PMM) is imperative to the success of any product-driven technology company. While not explicitly a technical role - coding isn’t required - product marketers are expected to have a high-level understanding of the tech that powers the products as well as tools to collect market intelligence, manage projects, and more.
If product marketing doesn’t require coding, how do these roles pay as compared to software engineering positions? While those writing the code are paid at a premium, marketing roles - especially at companies like Google, Amazon, Meta, and Microsoft - still offer compelling compensation.
However - it’s worth noting that the current economic landscape has impacted jobs across the tech industry, and product marketing is no exception; it can be tough to nail down a job and receive top dollar. Companies who previously exceeded the salary band for competitive candidates are now hesitant to offer even the high end of the band. This article will provide expert negotiation tips to help secure the role and compensation of your choice, even in a difficult market. You’ll walk away with a strong understanding of product marketing leveling structures at top companies, how to come out on top in recruiter conversations, and a handful of detailed negotiation scripts you can use right away.
Understanding Product Marketing Manager Levels
Before you can successfully negotiate your next offer, you’ll need a deep understanding of how product marketing professionals are leveled at various companies. Every tech company, from the smallest seed-round startups to the FAANG giants, has its own leveling structure. For example - Amazon hires most marketing professionals from L4 to L7 and Microsoft levels range from 59 (entry level) to 66.
Although each company has a specific naming convention, the levels typically fall into two standard groups: individual contributors (ICs) and leadership. Individual contributors handle the day-to-day work, while managers and other leaders oversee teams to ensure they achieve the necessary targets and goals. ICs are usually broken down between entry, mid, and senior level. A unique facet of product marketing is that the title “Product Marketing Manager” does not necessarily manage people (rather, they manage the marketing strategy, planning, and execution). Be sure you’re clear on the role you’re being offered - will you be responsible for managing a team or will you hold an IC role? People leadership roles may be designated as manager, team lead, or director, depending on experience level.
Whether IC or leader, each level comes with its own compensation band in addition to specific skill requirements and success measurements, so it’s important to understand the criteria an individual company uses to determine and assess levels.
Understanding Product Marketing Manager Offers
While there isn’t an exact formula across the board, product marketing offers at tech companies generally comprise similar components, with which you’ll want to be familiar prior to negotiating.
First, it’s helpful to understand how PMMs are paid and how that compares to other marketing roles. For example, product marketers earn more on average than content marketers - by up to $30k a year! Although both positions utilize similar skills and marketing fundamentals, a product marketer is much closer to the product, and those closer to the product tend to earn higher compensation. You see this with software engineering roles: as they are the closest to the product (they’re the ones building it, after all), they tend to earn the most. From there, you see product managers, designers, and even sales folks who are all close to the product in different ways. Product marketers are more directly involved with the product than, say, a content or brand marketer.
Product marketing also tends to be in higher demand than other types of marketing. This is due to the specialized experience required and it being a newer function (compared to other types of marketing) so fewer people have developed that expertise. That high demand impacts the compensation offered.
And finally, the work of a product marketing manager is easier to tie to a return on investment (ROI) than other roles. While a content marketer may track KPIs like views or subscribers, a PMM is reporting on conversion rates and marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) - which more closely lead to revenue for a company.
Base salary is standard in practically every job you’ll encounter, including product marketing. It’s the compensation you receive on your paycheck each pay period, and it’s static - the only change comes when you receive a pay increase. Any offer you receive will include a base, but because it’s the most consistently paid out, it’s also often less variable than other components.
Many tech companies offer signing bonuses to secure highly sought-out candidates, and although they're not a guaranteed component of an offer, you can always ask for one. They’re one of the easier levers for a company to pull. Signing bonuses are typically a one-time bonus paid out on your first check, but there are exceptions to that rule. For example, Amazon’s signing bonus is split out across your first two years on the job to help offset the company’s backloaded equity vesting schedule.
You should also be aware that the terms of your offer may dictate a clawback policy - if you leave the company before a designated time frame, you’ll be on the hook to pay back the bonus either in full or at a prorated amount. While one year is typical, it’s not unheard of to see a longer clawback period; TikTok, for example, recently updated theirs to two years. The specifics will be listed in your offer letter, so make sure you’re clear on the conditions before signing.
Many large tech companies offer signing bonuses as high as $150k-$200k for engineering roles, but can a PMM expect the same amount? Unfortunately, no - typical PMM signing bonuses at large tech companies max out around $50k-$75k. However, it’s always worth asking for a higher amount than you believe is possible So, if you get a senior- or director-level product marketing offer or are leaving a significant bonus or equity amount on the table by leaving your current role, we’d recommend asking for a $100k signing bonus (just be ready for the company to come back with a lower amount). What you’re doing here is “anchoring” high to ensure the signing bonus you do end up with is as high as possible.
Some companies offer annual bonuses, which can take different forms in different organizations. Some companies pay an annual bonus based on the company’s achievement of goals (revenue, sales, etc). Others pay out a bonus based on a combination of company and individual employee performance (this structure is more common). As a PMM, individual performance could be measured on KPIs like click-through rate, user retention rate, or customer acquisition rate - or the feedback you receive during the performance review process.
Either way, you’ll typically see a target bonus that is equal to 5-30% of your annual salary; the key here is that it is indeed a “target” and not something that is often guaranteed. It’s also worth noting that some companies only offer annual bonuses to specific levels or role types. For example - we recently helped a candidate uplevel their offer from a startup from Senior Manager to Director and with that change, their bonus changed from “target” to “guaranteed.”
Equity - RSUs vs. Stock Options
Most jobs in the tech industry, including PMMs, include equity in their offer packages. Often provided in the form of either restricted stock units (RSUs) or stock options (ISOs or NSOs), equity is stock in the company.
Publicly traded companies - like Meta, Google, Microsoft, or Amazon - generally offer RSUs, meaning the company awards you shares at no cost to you (aside from taxes). The stock market and the economy cause RSUs to shift up and down in value, but because they are tangible shares, they will retain some amount of cash value. It is possible for a privately-held company to offer RSUs, but it’s rare. Companies like TikTok, Snowflake, and Airtable do this - the shares come at no cost to you, but because they aren’t liquid shares they’re not easily sold.
The other common type of equity is stock options, which are frequently awarded by startups or pre-IPO companies. In essence, a stock option is the right to purchase (or “exercise”) a number of shares at a certain price (called the “strike price,” often much lower than the eventual price at IPO). The benefit here is that you could see a strong upside if the company goes public, but on the other hand, if the company never reaches an IPO you could be left with equity that isn’t worth much at all. This is something you’ll want to weigh as you consider different offers. For more on startup offers, check out our guides to Series A and Series B startup compensation.
Whichever type of equity you receive, it will come with a “vesting schedule,” which is the timeframe within which the company will pay out your shares. Just like you don’t receive 100% of your annual salary on your first day, you don’t receive 100% of your equity right away, either (plus, the vesting schedule helps keep the amount of your equity more stable as the stock market rises and falls). Instead, your equity will be paid out on a schedule; the most frequent is a payout of 25% per year for a four-year period.
Often, this includes a one-year cliff, which means you’re obligated to stay at the company for a full year before you receive the first portion of your stock. While this is a common vesting schedule, it’s not universal, and plenty of large companies have different philosophies. One common example of this is Amazon’s vesting schedule, which pays out 5% of the equity in your first year, 15% in your second, and 40% each in your third and fourth years. Regardless of the specific vesting schedule, you need to remain at the company for the entirety of the vesting period to receive all of the equity awarded to you. Vesting schedules are not typically negotiable, especially at large companies, since equity is subject to a company’s board and/or the stock market.
Equity may not be as prominent a part of a product marketing offer as it would an engineering offer, but you should still anticipate receiving stock in any offer from a tech company. The higher you go in your career, the larger a component equity will play in your overall compensation.
If you’d like to learn more about the different types of equity and gather startup-specific equity negotiation tips, check out our blog post here.
Other Common Offer Components
While compensation is the first thing most folks think of when it comes to product marketer job offers, there are other pieces to be aware of. Things like paid time off (PTO), health insurance coverage, 401(k) or other retirement plan match, and overall flexibility are all worth considering as you make a negotiation plan. You may also find companies who will sponsor an employment visa or green card sponsorship, but this tends to be seen less frequently for non-core-tech roles.
The specifics of these offer components will vary company to company, largely depending on company size, stage, and other factors. While the largest companies may have more cash on hand, they also tend to have more standardized processes and procedures, which can mean less flexibility. For example, it may be easier to negotiate for more PTO at a small company, while a larger company might have more wiggle room when it comes to increasing the signing bonus. Larger companies likely also offer stronger insurance benefits or retirement matching.
Don’t forget about workplace flexibility; even as many companies require a full return-to-office (or at least hybrid), they may still be willing to negotiate remote work for a stellar candidate.
Product Marketing Manager Offer Process
It’s helpful to understand the process from interview to offer. The exact interview process varies by company and by role, but regardless of the specifics, the interview is a time for the company to determine your fit within a given role and organization. It’s imperative that you do the same and make sure you gather all the necessary information to figure out if it’s the right place for you.
We recommend evaluating your opportunities by referring to these five pillars of career fulfillment:
Purpose: We need to do work that gives us meaning greater than ourselves.
Learning: We need to learn and build skills (hard and soft) that help us craft our career.
Growth: We need to have goals and believe we’re on the path to achieving them.
Balance: We need to protect our personal life, family, finances, and mental health.
Relationship: We need to belong and feel connected to the people we work with.
After finishing all of the interviews, the hiring manager and the rest of the interview panel debrief on next steps, and this is often when they assess your leveling, as well. You may have interviewed for a specific level (for example, a Senior Product Marketing Manager) and have prior skills and experience to back it up, but it’s not unheard of to be offered a different level based on interview performance. Should that happen and you’re unhappy with the proposed level, it’s possible to push back!
We recommend addressing it directly with the hiring manager - the worst that happens is they say no. Know that if you’re being considered for a higher level at an external opportunity (or even at your current company), that can be leveraged as justification to come into this role at a higher level. If a hiring manager is open to “upleveling” you, they may ask you to do a few additional interviews. This is a good sign!
Once a final decision to present you an offer has been made, the recruiter and hiring manager seek approval for the official details; these approvals can include finance, company executives, or a hiring committee (like at Google).
You Got An Offer - Now What?
While going through your interviews and learning about how each company structures their offers, it’s important to set aside some time to get clarity on what you need (both in terms of the role - with the pillars we mentioned above - and monetary compensation). Even better, being clear on this before you start your job search will allow you to fully assess each opportunity as they come.
We recommend thinking about a few different numbers, detailed below:
Your Walk-Away Number: This is the absolute lowest you could accept. If offered anything less, you’d walk away. This number might be equivalent to your current salary, or to what is required to maintain your standard of living. Be realistic about what you could accept, but remember to not sell yourself short.
Your Target Number: This is the number you’d be really happy with. Maybe it’s a 20% increase from what you earn today, or maybe it’s the number that would allow you to start saving to buy a house - it’s different for everyone, but important to figure out. Think through the value of the skills and experience you bring to the table as well as what compensation is in line with your lifestyle, expenses, and desires.
Your Aspiration Point: What number would make you sign the offer on the spot? That’s your aspiration point. We recommend starting high and working your way down: would you sign immediately for a million dollars? $900k? $800k? While you may not realistically expect to receive your aspirational number right off the bat, knowing what it is will help you structure your negotiations.
How do you determine what’s reasonable? First, you’ll want to research market data. It’s easy to think about the cost of living (especially with the cost of everything increasing seemingly endlessly!) but that actually doesn’t factor into compensation as much as you might think. Instead, a company looks at the market rate for product marketers in a given area; that doesn’t mean cost of living isn’t personally important, but companies typically don’t alter offers based on that reasoning.
To gather market data, you can use sites or apps like Team Blind, Fishbowl, H1B Salary Database, Levels.fyi, and even Glassdoor (while their accuracy for technical roles is low, it’s a bit better for less technical positions and can be a helpful way to gather context on employee experiences at a given company). You can also search for job postings in states whose laws require companies to include pay ranges (Colorado, New York, Washington).
Be aware that these ranges are a helpful starting point but not always exact. Some companies may share a lower range (something like $90k-$130k when the true range is $100k-$200k), post only the midpoint of the salary band, or even include an extremely broad range. A posting at Netflix recently advertised a range of $90,000 to $900,000 per year!
Once you’ve landed on your three numbers, it’s time to figure out what you want to ask for. Unfortunately, negotiation isn’t as simple as just asking for a number and receiving it (see more below for tips on structuring your ask). If you’re offered $100k and you come back with an ask for $150k, it’s likely the company will offer something in the middle. Avoid the back-and-forth by “anchoring,” or shooting closer to your aspirational number, which will lead to a worst case scenario of something in the middle and a best case scenario of getting what you asked for!
Remember, again, that salary is only one part of an offer, so you’ll need to know what’s most important to you. Think about the different components and how you rank them. Are you enticed by equity because it lets you benefit from the company’s growth? Do you prioritize the stability of a higher base salary? Or do you feel like as long as your bills are paid, what’s most important is ample paid time off and flexible work? You don’t necessarily have to sacrifice one component for another, but it’s worth having an idea of what matters most to you.
How Is A Product Marketing Offer Determined?
Another key to a successful negotiation is understanding what actually goes into determining an offer. You know that your interview performance and previous experience impact which level you’ll be offered. As each level has an associated salary band (and often an associated amount of equity and performance bonus eligibility), the level you’re placed at will determine your salary range. Your experience and interview performance can impact where you fall within that range (for example, someone who is leveled at a senior position but would be considered “new” to that level may receive an offer on the lower end of the range).
Your education can, in some cases, also impact your offer. Many companies only pay more for an advanced degree if they ask for it (you may see a job posted with a Master’s degree listed as a preferred qualification, and if you have one, you can use that as leverage for a higher offer), but if you have an MBA (advanced business and marketing knowledge!) or a Computer Science degree (the ability to deeply understand the technical aspects of the product!), you may have additional leverage.
While we noted that cost of living doesn’t usually factor into an offer, location can play a role. Companies choose whether they anchor their pay to a single location (for example, a company who pays New York City salaries to everyone, even if they work in Texas) or offer location-dependent pay (meaning you earn pay based on the local market rate even if your company is headquartered in the Bay Area). If a company pays based on location and your area has a lower market rate for marketing roles, you can still ask for more! Remember that you’re doing the same work as someone in an area with a higher market rate.
Finally, some companies use competing offers to determine what they want to pay. Even if a company doesn’t do this intentionally, you can use to your advantage any higher offers you have - and even being in the interview process with a company whose compensation is higher can be a boon.
What Are the Most Negotiable Aspects of a Product Marketing Manager Offer?
Between base, equity, and bonus (signing and performance/annual), the most negotiable aspects of an offer are usually the equity grant or the signing bonus. Companies don’t want to pay out more guaranteed cash on a consistent basis, so offering more equity (it’s more variable) or a higher sign-on (it’s a one-time payment) are attractive options.
That said, almost everything is worth asking about (although it’s unlikely that an annual bonus percentage would be negotiable unless your level is changed) - and if you hit a dead end when it comes to higher compensation, consider asking for more flexibility (remote work, different hours) or something else that’s important to you (like education reimbursement).
If you’re not happy with the level you’re offered, don’t give up hope. Ask the recruiter to explain the difference in day-to-day work and impact from this level to the next, then use that information to compare your experience against both levels. Request to talk with the hiring manager, then use that time to understand why they leveled you where they did and whether there is any flexibility. If you still feel you have been misleveled after these conversations, speak up - some companies will allow you to undergo an additional interview to prove your skills! As we’ve covered, compensation is tied to your level, so a higher level equals higher compensation. Even if the uplevel request is ultimately denied, just going through the process of asking can uncover justification to pay you more.
How to Negotiate
You already know that a major part of successfully marketing a product is understanding the audience and customer, and negotiation is no different. From the start, you should engage in strategic conversations to understand the needs of the company, what they offer, and how your experience lines up. Strong communication is key.
It’s likely that early in each interview process, a recruiter will ask what compensation you're targeting. How much should you share? First, it’s important to understand the reason for the question: recruiters want to know if the role aligns with what you’re looking for (in terms of the work itself and the compensation package). That said, you can reach that alignment without showing your hand. Instead, encourage the recruiter to provide the first number. You can do this by saying something along the lines of, “I’m not sure I know enough yet about the role or company to make a strong determination. Is there a range budgeted for this position?” In some states, employers are required to answer if you ask about pay (California is one). Once you know the range, you can respond accordingly - whether that’s agreeing to move forward or stating that you actually require a higher number and asking if the pay is negotiable.
We only recommend sharing your target if you’re moving from a high-paying industry to one that pays less (for example, moving from a FAANG company to a not-for-profit), in which situation it may make sense to share a number to provide an anchor.
(Note: if you’re ever asked about your current salary, know that it’s illegal in many states for an employer to request this information. Even if not prohibited by law, you’re under no obligation to answer.)
After you receive an offer, take some time to go over the details. You’ll be asked when the recruiter can expect a response from you, but know there is usually less urgency than it appears. We recommend you take a few hours away from the offer and let your emotions settle before diving into analysis. You can tell the recruiter, “Thank you for these details! I’d like to take some time to review everything/discuss with my family and then come back with my thoughts.” This is something they hear often and will not be a surprise.
When you start to consider the details, refer back to the numbers you determined earlier and ask yourself if this offer aligns with your aspirational or target compensation. Are the components you care about present? Is anything missing? This will help you figure out what to ask for.
Then, once you know what you’d like to request, determine your rationale. Remember what you know about how offers are crafted and use that to back up your request. Do you want to reiterate the higher education or specialized skills you bring? Provide market data in favor of higher compensation? Reference your competing (higher) offers? If there is evidence you should come in at a higher level, now is the time to make that argument.
Be sure to consider whether there is anything you’ll be losing by leaving your current company. Even if your current job doesn’t pay as well, are you walking away from unlimited PTO, remote work, or a bonus payout? Make sure to include this in your request. And remember that there are always trade-offs; if something is missing from your offer (like a retirement match) and they won’t budge, ask for more of something else to make up for it (like a signing bonus).
At the end of the day, you and the company have the same goal: you as their newest PMM. They selected you from a pool of talented candidates and they want you to join them. Plus, it costs a lot of time, money, and energy to recruit and hire someone, so they have a vested interest in making this work. While it can be nerve wracking to negotiate, especially if you really want the job, try not to worry - if you negotiate respectfully, it’s highly unlikely any reasonable company would rescind the offer.
With your offer in hand, an understanding of your ask, and the rationale to back it up, you’re ready for the next step: a conversation with the hiring manager. We recommend having this conversation to ask any questions you couldn’t during your interviews and to continue solidifying a strong relationship. Our recommendation is to come to the meeting with an “impact roadmap” or “30/60/90 day plan” to show the hiring manager how you plan to approach the new role. They’ll see your passion for the work, get visibility into how you’re thinking about success in the role, and will be more bought-in and thus more likely to support your request for higher compensation.
Finally, set up a call with the recruiter. Keep it short and to the point, with something like,
“Thank you again for sending over the offer details! I reviewed everything over the last few days, and based on what I’d need to walk away from my current company and the offer I have from [Company B], I’d be happy to sign with [Company A] today if you can get the compensation to [desired amount].”
Then, even if it feels awkward, stop talking! Don’t try to justify or explain any further; if the recruiter needs more context, they’ll ask.
If your request goes beyond increased total compensation - for example, you want a higher base and more equity, or you’re happy with the base but a signing bonus and more PTO - try something like this,
“Thank you again for sending over the offer details! I took some time to review everything, and while I’m excited by the team and the role, I’m struggling with walking away from the 10 weeks of PTO offered by my current employer. I will also be missing out on my annual bonus at [current company] if I leave now, so if [company A] is able to add a signing bonus of [dollar amount] and an additional two weeks of vacation, I’d be excited to sign.”
It may help to frame this as an “excitement sandwich”: starting the conversation by reiterating your interest, stating your reservations and what’s holding you back from accepting, then finally sharing your excitement to sign if they can meet your terms. This simple formula covers all of your bases: it’s apparent you’d like to join the company, but it’s also clear you need them to sweeten the deal.
If you’re nervously thinking, “Wait, I have to do all of this over the phone?!” we get it. But yes, negotiating via a live conversation is much more effective than doing so via email. An email negotiation carries more risk, drags the process out longer with more back and forth (and room for misinterpretation), and lacks the rapport you can build in a live conversation. However, if it’s between an email negotiation or no negotiation at all, go with email - just be mindful of how you do it (we’ve got tips here).
Don’t worry that negotiating will cause you to lose the offer. Companies only rescind offers if you demonstrate yourself to be a liability to the company (making offensive statements or proving yourself to be dangerous) or if their needs change (which means your role would have been at risk of a layoff anyway). If you are respectful, reasonable, and timely in your negotiations, no legitimate company will rescind your offer. After all, they want to hire you based on your skill and talent, and they’re likely expecting you to advocate for yourself! The chance you’ll lose an offer from respectful negotiation is below .05%, and if you fall into that .05%, it’s not a company you’d want to work for.
Mistakes to Avoid
Knowing how to negotiate is important, but it also must be said that there are some things not to do. We want to help you avoid some common negotiation mistakes.
Mistake #1: Not negotiating at all - A surefire way to lose out on a higher offer is by not even trying to negotiate. Companies expect you to negotiate and it’s never easier to negotiate than at the offer stage. Even if your first offer came in higher than you expected, consider asking for additional flexibility or a small sign-on bonus.
Mistake #2: Negotiating without a clear strategy - Because negotiation isn’t as simple as just “asking for more,” you’ll need a strong point of view and a specific request that is backed up by data. Make sure you’re prepared for your conversations by being familiar with the components of the offer, how offers are determined, and the reasons for your request. Building - and sticking to - a strategy leads to a stronger deal.
Mistake #3: Trying to negotiate after signing the offer - One reason it’s important to stick to the strategy is to avoid buyer’s remorse. Once you sign the offer, you’ve effectively agreed to the terms as-is and committed to joining the company. If you go back on your word and try to negotiate post-signing, it will appear as though you signed in bad faith and will be ineffective. Since you already agreed to the terms, the company isn’t likely to offer more. The time to negotiate is always before you accept.
Mistake #4: Negotiating based only on what you want - Of course your financial needs and desires are important - you’re working to earn a living, after all. But there are two sides involved here and the goal is to reach a mutual agreement, so you’re unlikely to succeed if you only focus on what’s in it for you.
Negotiation isn’t easy and takes practice, but it’s worth it. Coming to terms both you and your future employer are happy with will start your new role on the right foot and set you up for increased success in your career. If you’re looking for more hands-on support, we’re available; sign up for a call with a Rora negotiation coach!