What we look for: Outbound Product Marketing

Yeah, I've been offline for a little while but wanted to continue to share info with you on what we look for here. I think I mentioned before that we developed some profiles of candidates that tend to fit well at Microsoft. These profiles focus on what someone is doing right now. I've already spoken (blogged) about management consulting and inbound product management. So thought it would be a good time to talk about the outbound side.

There are a number of different types of outbound roles here at Microsoft and people who do these kinds of jobs are typically titled product management or marketing manager (there are variations on these titles as well). Marketing roles can sit in a few different types of organizations.

In Product Groups

Many people in marketing roles are aligned with a specific product. Sometimes these people have responsibility for both inbound and outbound work (this happens more often in smaller product groups or in niche marketing roles). For you MBAs out there, you know about the 4Ps, right? People in the product groups generally have responsibility for the go-to-market framework for their products. They look at the type of marketing that needs to take place for their product.

In the subsidiaries

Then there are people that are responsible for marketing within their geographies AND within customer or audience segments. A few weeks back, you saw my interview with Chris Weber. This is the kind of marketing his team does. They work in the US subsidiary (the US Business Marketing Office is the sub marketing organization for the US) on go-to-market strategy in server platforms. This is kind of where the rubber meets the road from a marketing standpoint. These people have the close connection with the audiences and determine how we are going to execute.

In the Central Marketing Group

The CMG is the place where the marketing "specialists" sit. Typically, when I try and describe how marketing works at Microsoft, I draw a triangle. On one corner are the product groups, on another the BMO and on the third the CMG. Because all of these organizations work together to get marketing done here. The CMG is a diverse organization responsible for PR, Advertising, Events, Market Research and Branding. These were roles that, at one time, sat among the product groups. By having them in one organization, we can create consistencies in our messaging and economies of scale in the work that we do (I'm sure there are a bunch of other reasons to have this work centralized).

An easy way to describe how these organizations work together is to think about how we market a product (I'm going to over-simplify here). During the product development phase a product group may enlist the help of our market research team (CMG) to segment potential customers. As the product progresses, the product group works with the BMO to develop a marketing strategy that hits the right audience(s). Part of that strategy might be advertising (CMG), PR (CMG), or developing some new product branding, etc. Market research (CMG) may also be asked to do some advertising response testing or brand awareness research during the marketing process. Product management (product groups) may go out to evangelize the product(s) working with PR, events, etc. There are a lot of other pieces to this marketing equation, but you get the point that all 3 types of organizations work closely together to get it done.

So, for an outbound marketing professional considering Microsoft, you may want to think about which type of organization you might fit into (this will help you narrow down the list of roles and provide some context to the job descriptions out there). If your background is focused on marketing a technology product and you sit closely to product management (the work you do fits within the framework of product development), then you would probably want to consider a product group here. If the work you have done is closely aligned with an audience segment (like business decision makers, IT Pros, developers or consumer), you may want to check out our BMO organizations. There is a lot of cross over between product group work and BMO work (for example, some product groups may also have marketers focused on strategy for specific customer segments), in that people who have worked on one type of group can and have moved to another. If you are a specialist...you are a PR manager, a market researcher, you have managed advertising strategy, etc., then the best potential fit would be the Central Marketing Group.

With regard to other profiles, I've talked about tech versus non-tech. We do hire a lot of  marketers who have significant experience in the tech space simply because that's our business here. We also look at folks that have come out of other industries like consumer packaged goods. What we are looking for in these folks are string marketing fundamentals and, often, customer segment experience in the consumer space. We also realize that a number of great MBAs work in the consumer space right out of school so there's some great talent there. 

I hope this helps you understand what the outbound space here looks like. Again, I've had to generalize here so don't be surprised if you find segment marketing roles in product groups or product manager roles in the BMO...we've had to be flexible in order to address what is going on in the market. But at least what I've explained here should provide some clarity and help you think about how we get marketing done here.



Comments (13)

  1. Sean Kent says:

    Hey Heather – did you recently hire my wife’s cousin and her husband (her cousin’s husband, not my wife’s, as that would be me)? Their names are Keith & Heidi Taylor. Both came from product marketing at Intel in Oregon.

  2. Heather says:

    Hi Sean, it wasn’t me…I don’t take candidates through to the offer/hire stage. I hand them off to the recruiters well before that. It’s cool when we hire a husband and wife both…less stress for them in terms of the trailing spouse having to find a new job also.

  3. Heather – Thanks for putting together the Microsoft networking ‘express’ in Mountain View last week. Nice job. Sorry you couldn’t attend. I was looking forward to putting a face to a name.

    My take from the event: MS = good company; Redmond = ‘yea, could live there’; Opportunities = many and challenging; hiring process = daunting.

    Any advice?

    I’ve got a couple hundred skilled marketers in my organization. Let’s see if we can close some deals. Ed.

  4. Russ Moon says:



    Place (distribution)


  5. Heather says:

    Ed, thanks for the feedback on the event. This time I ended up just being responsible for getting people there, but typically, would go to the event as well. The timing on this one was tough and given that we had so many other people attending, I passed on flying down. Anyway, glad it went well. All of the Microsoft folks felt it was great and there were some good potential candidates there.

    As far as helping people find opportunities here, I guess just make sure they send me their resume. The process in and of itself isn’t that daunting. It’s just that we cannot phone interview every person that applies so I think the not hearing back (and trusting that the recruiter really got the resume to the right people) is hardest for candidates. At the very least, I can assure you all that I will review each resume and route to the appropriate recruiters and get the resume into our system here. Feel free to share out my e-mail address: heathham@microsoft.com

  6. Pradeep says:

    Heather – I have an assertive premise and then a question (or two) for you.

    Assertive Premise – Disassociate yourself from MSFT recruiting for a moment.

    <Open Assertive Premise>

    Question – What drives a person? Is it the euphoria you get from

    a) doing what they do well, only better?


    b) Venturing new ground?

    While the former has its leverage-points in past-experience, and hence abilities to create economies of scope and design better processes, ideas, solutions, thought processes in the same field – is that what drives one?

    Or is it the insatiable need to always break new ground and progress with learning and experience…..

    A baseball player hits a million hits in practice before making that homerun in a game…. Does that make him happy – or would a baseball player climbing everest or having a hole in one in golf make him happier?

    It could be the classic generalist/specialist case mapped to Maslow’s theories if you will.

    On that thought…. and if you could associate yourself back to the org… 🙂

    <Close Assertive Premise>

    * If one wants to venture new ground and leverage past experiences indirectly – how does the recruitment process at Microsoft support that?

    For example – Given a strong enterprise server background – and an obvious fit with say, Chris Weber’s BMO group – is there such a generalist-rotational kinda work being experimented where one across BU’s/products on a regular basis or is it already currently in place at Microsoft? Would it be in the future?

  7. Heather says:

    Pradeep…I’m not sure I am the right person to provide a standard answer to your first question (or was that a rhetorical question?). I think people are motivated by different things and can be motivated by both doing what they do well AND breaking new ground. Perhaps this is what separates human from animals. Animals are only motivated by their most basic needs…food, shelter, procreation, etc (I think this is where you were going with your reference to Maslow). Thankfully, humans (well, most of them anyway) are much more complicated, not just in our ability to reason and therefore have more sophisticated motivations but also in the ability to find that motivation from a number of different places (frankly, the food thing still works for me).

    Putting my recruiter hat back on (which is honestly more comfortable and fashionable than my phychologist/sociologist hat…I’m just saying), we look for both. The motivation to perform based on what you know is what makes someone a good fit for a JOB. The desire to break new ground makes them a good fit for Microsoft (and also potentially a good fit for a role in emerging markets, for example).

    There’s no process, per se, to vet these different motivation factors during the recruitment cycle other than actually interviewing people and getting a sense for what motivates them. Once someone gets into Microsoft, though, there’s a lot of opportunity to move around and change organizations, roles, etc. It’s not mandated (and trust me, it’s very possible to stay in the same role and have it seem "new" just based on what is going on in the market, stage of product lifecycle, etc.), but we do encourage people to think about a long term career at Microsoft and the value of rounding out your skillset by working in different roles, orgs, etc. So the rotational aspect of a career at Microsoft is driven by the individual with the help of his/her manager. But it’s encouraged, not mandated.

    I’m not sure if that was what you were looking for Pradeep…did I answer your question?

  8. Pradeep says:

    Heather –

    Couldn’t help suppress a chuckle on the psychologist/sociologist para – but I really did ask a rhetorical qn. Woe be on this media which suppresses the tone. Sweet of you to answer it though.

    Here is the qn I was trying to ask:

    Some industries/companies like Singapore Airlines, McKinsey, GE ensure that there is a Special Generalist – job. Where every 3-4 yrs (time duration depends on the company) you are made to move to another role. The choice to be a "generalist" or not is ofcourse there and even if one chose not to be – one can always move….

    But the question i was trying to raise was – for a person who knew he/she was a "generalist" and needed new roles, new teams and new challenges to work on every 4-5 yrs – would that be solely on their initiative with help of his/her manager or is there such a position.

    A generalist is not a corporate-nomad as my description could depict. Think of a Da vinci – the guy was a scientist, a scultor, a painter, a writer, sociologist, an entrepreneur and an alumnus of the Illuminati!

    Knowing that a good percentage of ppl at firms like MSFT, McKinsey, GE are top notch, I was wondering abt this qn.

  9. Heather says:

    On their own initiative, however high performers often get "tapped" to step into new roles. So it’s often encouraged but not really a program.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Product Marketing.com on inbound versus outbound

  11. Pradeep says:


    hope thanksgiving was great for you.

    Here’s a silly question for you:

    You do call BMO a Microsoft subsidiary and CMG as the "marketing specialist" group. Maybe I am reading too much into it – but as a marketing person CMG seems "more pristine" by that description.

    Or did you just mean that CMG is corporate marketing (mkt research, branding and MarCom) for the firm and therefore a horizontal organization.

    Product Marketing is obviously a vertical and BMO is the Strategy/MarCom/Marketing group that Product Teams leverage to GTM?

    Visualizing CMG could be the core, PG radially outward activities with BMO being the arrow-heads to reach the customer.

  12. Heather says:

    Pradeep-I meant that CMG is corporate marketing. I consider the marketers within the organization as specialists from my standpoint as a recruiter. Yes, the BMO is leverages by the product groups for GTM. Each major sub/region has a BMO so that GTM activiites are localized by sub. I see it as a triangle. CMG/BGs/BMOs

  13. Craig Matthews says:

    Dear Heather,

    Thanks for a very thoughtful article. Very lucid.

    Just to clarify some key differences between CMG and BMO — it appears to me that CMG is an external facing marketing division, whereas BMO is more of an internal group?

    Also, CMG works on functions that are more like marketing at other firms, core marketing if you will, whereas BMO works on product-related engineering type stuff?

    Can you perhaps talk a bit about what each organization looks for — in an Experienced Hire, not a fresh grad.



    P.S. While submitting this comment, I saw the following error message croak about 5-6 times, but I’m persistent 🙂 —

    "System.Web.HttpException: Server Too Busy"

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