Product Marketing in B2B SAAS: AMA with Albert Qian

Albert Qian is a Product Marketing Manager at  SAS (San Mateo, California office), an AI and analytics SAAS company that provides a visualization platform and intelligent decision-making solutions to help enterprises draw better and faster insights from data. At SAS, he handles the Snowflake and Microsoft partnership integrations but is also responsible for product marketing of the company's products like Intelligent Decisioning Solution.

Prior to that, he worked at Oracle in Content marketing and studied at Santa Clara University, San Mateo, California.

Outside work, Albert is deeply passionate about communities, moderating a Facebook community named Albert's List of 45k+ professionals helping one another to find jobs and advance their careers in the California region.

Thank you so much for being here! As an icebreaker, would you like to share how your day looks like at SAS?

Yes! My typical day involves various tasks, from meeting with colleagues to discuss projects and strategy, to writing marketing assets, and thinking through marketing launch processes. It's a lot of thinking and can be very mentally strenuous.

Great to hear that. Just curious, what's your favorite part of the product launch process?

Yeah! So, I am a fan of writing content. I like content a lot because I think it's a main driver for how organizations engage with their customers. As a former content marketer, I have had a lot of fun writing blog posts, putting together webpages, and creating assets that mainly support sales.

Given that both Content marketers and Product managers, especially for product releases, have a lot in common when it comes to writing, how do you suggest folks improve their writing and storytelling? Feel free to share if you have any anecdotes.

Great question! I would say that improving your writing means that you need to write and read a lot. The art of writing is a skill acquired through practice, so I would recommend starting your own blog, creating comments around what you read, and commenting on what other people write too. As far as reading, I would recommend reading a wide variety of books to gain a larger vocabulary and become familiar with various styles. So, you should be reading non-fiction, fiction, biographical, and others so that you can harmonize these styles together to form your own.

Coming to reading, are there particular blogs you recommend, especially in B2B SAAS for product?

Yeah, I think there's a lot of diverse opinions when it comes to what you can read in the blogging world. Because product management encompasses so many areas, a variety of blogs should be within your RSS feed and email. My first favorite blog to read about product and really everything around it is Seth Godin. Seth has been a marketing and product guy for many years now and writes very simple and elegant blogs that really get to the point quickly without explaining too much. You might have heard of his books too, as he is a very influential voice.

I also enjoy reading the HubSpot blog. Though more marketing-focused, this blog does give ideas on how to focus on growth and marketing tactics. As someone who holds some of their certifications, I think knowing how funnels work is a very important part of how to build and sell a product.

How do you ideate on new features with your team? Could you please recommend any fun exercises or tips & tricks?

I like to ideate via whiteboarding. Just throw ideas out there and then evaluate. Early on in the ideation process, it's as important to have any ideas as it is to be energized to brainstorm.

Have you ever worked on products that are going to be used internally within the org? How different is it when it comes to marketing and general product management when you are building a product for internal users?

Back when I worked at Cisco as a contractor, I worked on a product called Cisco WebEx Social. It was their internal social networking and collaboration tool, and their intention was to eliminate email and have people be more social. There was a lot of internal resistance, but they did what they had to try and drive adoption. Marketing and product management internally focused on hosting office hours, internal newsletters, and town halls. I think building a product is still the same, except your customers are now your employees. You still need to make the right efforts.

We’re particularly interested in how your team overcomes the “internal resistance.” We are also seeing that in our org but pointing out some technical and legal reasons. I believe these are just nonexistent issues and can be overcome if marketed properly. Could you shed some more light on this?

Yeah - so the way we approached it was holding folks to using the solution and finding the right use cases. We also placed mission-critical content within the social networking platform to drive adoption. You also use a lot of compassion. You understand that people are frustrated, but you try to meet them where they are.

Given that you've worked for two major SAAS companies, can you share a few good practices about creating awareness and generating demand for an early-stage company? We observe that it's especially relatable to a lot of Product managers in early-stage companies who have to manage both product and marketing.

Good question there too. I think when you are so early on, it's important to find advocates and allies who can speak to you as a person and your idea. It's all about momentum and finding a vision and MVP that you can work with. Now is not the time to be complex but rather simple. Build value for people first (webinars, meetups, etc.) and then keep going from there. The tech community is always very friendly and willing to talk. Go meet people.

Can you touch a little bit about Albert's list - a community helping professionals in the Bay region and community building?

Yes, absolutely. Albert's List is a job search community with 48,600+ people in the San Francisco Bay Area. We help people build skills in job searching through boot-camps and in-person events and connect them with recruiters and hiring managers. You can check it out at

Before we leave, any advice for product and marketing professionals or anything you want to share in general?

Yeah - enjoy the ride and the adventure! It's a lot of roller coaster emotions, but the most important skill you will ever learn in your career is to be resilient. Know how to work with others, know that everything is not final, and that as one of the key leaders in your company you have a lot more influence than you do.

Want to join the next conversation? We’ll be having another Product Chat soon, get your invite to our Slack community to get all the details. See you inside.

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