Exploring Product Marketing Insights and Writing with Andrea Saez | Glasp Talk #10

Exploring Product Marketing Insights and Writing with Andrea Saez | Glasp Talk #10

This is the tenth session of Glasp Talk!

Glasp Talk delves deep into intimate interviews with luminaries from various fields, unraveling their genuine emotions, experiences, and the stories behind them.

Today's guest is Andrea Saez, a product marketing and management expert with over a decade of experience. Andrea has helped numerous companies grow through her product-thinking and scaling strategies expertise. She co-authored "The Product Momentum Gap," a book that challenges conventional product development approaches.

In this interview, Andrea shares her journey from working in an ice cream store to becoming a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Unmind. She discusses the importance of empathy in product development, her experiences in various roles, and how AI is transforming the industry. Andrea also provides insights into the challenges and successes she has encountered throughout her career, offering valuable advice for aspiring product managers and marketers. Join us as we explore the fascinating world of product marketing and management with Andrea Saez.


Read the summary:

Exploring Product Marketing Insights and Writing with Andrea Saez | Glasp Talk #10 | Video Summary and Q&A | Glasp
- Andrea S is a senior product marketing manager at Amind, co-author of a bestselling book, and has a decade of experience in product management and marketing. - She believes in constantly trying new things and learning from them, which has been valuable in her career. - Andrea’s career evolved from


Transcripts

Glasp: Welcome back to Glasp Talk. Today we have an amazing speaker, Andrea Saez. She is a product marketing and management professional with over a decade of experience. She is currently a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Unmind, a company creating a world where mental health is universally understood, natural, and celebrated. She is also the co-author of a bestselling book in application development on Amazon, "The Product Momentum Gap," and she has helped numerous companies achieve growth through her expertise in product thinking and scaling strategies. So today, we'd like to ask her all about product management and marketing, her career, and so on. Andrea, thank you for joining today.

Andrea Saez: Hey both. Yeah, thank you so much for having me here. I'm really excited.

Glasp: Thank you. So, first of all, I introduced you a little bit, but could you introduce yourself a bit to the audience who don't know you yet?

Andrea Saez: Sure. I mean, I think you kind of did a really good job. As you said, I am a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Unmind. I'm also co-author of the book "The Product Momentum Gap," and I've been working in product management and product marketing for a while now, well over a decade. I primarily worked with startups but also scale-ups and Series D and above companies. So, definitely quite a diverse exposure to all the levels that startups go through as they grow, expand their market shares, and get more customers. It's definitely been really interesting to see all the different stages.

Glasp: Yeah, very beautiful and very interesting career. It seems like from your LinkedIn profile, your career started as a web content manager or technical support specialist, then you moved on to product manager and product marketing manager and so on.

Andrea Saez: Yes, I tried a lot of different things. I think that's okay, and that's also kind of like the biggest lesson in product management and product marketing really is to keep trying, keep learning, until you figure things out, which is what I did. I started in web content management. Before that, I worked at an ice cream store, so I literally tried everything. I used to work at Apple, I used to fix computers, then I went into support, then I went into product management, and then I, by accident, fell into product marketing. So, try things until you get good at something basically.

Glasp: Interesting. And how has your career changed? I mean, you said product managers and product marketing managers need a variety of experiences that come to consolidate their career or experience eventually. How has your career developed over time, and what was a turning point if you remember?

Andrea Saez: Honestly, I wish I had a really smart answer, but it all happened by accident. The nature of working at startups is a lot of just picking up the things that others cannot pick up, if that makes any sense. I might have been working in support, but I was always writing articles, and naturally, those articles then turned into blog posts. That's how I kind of started getting exposed to the marketing world a little bit. I was also the first hire at one of the startups that I worked at, so naturally, being the first one there, you kind of learn to do a lot of different things. I've done sales, not very good coding, design, and a lot of different things because that's what you do at a startup. You get to wear a lot of different hats, do a lot of different things, and you might not be good at all those things, but that's how you learn, right?

Glasp: Yes, startups, yeah, we should wear so many hats all the time. That makes sense. But at the same time, as the company grows, your roles and responsibilities will change and maybe narrow down a little bit. Did that happen naturally?

Andrea Saez: Yeah, I think that's how I got into product marketing actually. As the companies that I was with grew, I started finding a very specific niche. At the time, we didn't know it was called product marketing, but it was a very interesting role between product and marketing. I worked very closely with the product team, but I wasn't fully into product. I also worked very closely with the marketing team, but I wasn't fully marketing. We called it a lot of very weird things at the time. Eventually, somebody approached me and said, "Hey, would you like to be a product marketer?" I was like, "Oh, what is that?" They ran me through everything, and I was like, "Oh, those are all the things that I do now. I just didn't know that that's what it was called."

Glasp: That's interesting. You didn't know the word for product marketing. How did you learn that role and what kind of resources did you use?

Andrea Saez: Like I said, I didn't know until it was the CEO of Airfocus who approached me and said, "Hey, I would love for you to come join us as a product marketing manager." I was like, "I don't know what that is," and he said, "No, it's all the things that you've been doing." Then I started doing a little bit of research and realized that these are all the things I had been doing. I had been doing the job for about five years at that point without knowing that was the job I was doing. If anything, it was enlightening, and it was really great to find a name for it and find a group of people doing the same thing. I always felt like I didn't really have a role or a job, just kind of doing a little bit of everything. Then I realized it's actually a really strategic role, super strategic, very close to product, building a bridge with the rest of the organization, a lot about communicating and articulating that value. It touched on a lot of my strengths, writing and communicating, creativity, and strategy. The more I got into it, the more I appreciated it.

Glasp: I see. In terms of a product marketing manager's job or team orchestration, have you seen any common mistakes or gaps between product teams, marketing teams, designers, developers? Do you have any advice?

Andrea Saez: I think the product marketing role is still very misunderstood. People see it as purely a marketing role, which is incorrect because it's not. People see it as a sales enablement role, which again, it's not. It has elements of that for sure, but it is a very strategic role. Any product team or design team either looking to bring in a new PMM or already has one and they're feeling like it's not working well, my advice would be to bring that PMM into the conversation from the very beginning and close that gap. That's where most issues happen, the product marketer not being exposed to all the strategic stuff they should be exposed to and working closely with the product team.

Glasp: When you say from the early stage, if it's a two-person startup or three-person startup and there's no PMM, at what stage do you think it makes sense to have a PMM? From five people?

Andrea Saez: That's a great question. I would say when the product manager can no longer do it on their own. Unpopular or popular opinion, I don't know, but in early-stage startups when you're three to five people, the product manager can handle a lot of the responsibilities that a product marketer would do. Knowing how to articulate value, market research, user research, high-level go-to-market activities like writing release notes and blog posts about features. As a product manager, you should be able to do a lot of those things. I know, K, I see your posts all the time; that's exactly what I'm talking about. Creating those videos, showing features, that is a product marketer role in a smaller startup. But when you're growing, inevitably one person doing all that is a lot. You can't think about strategy, content, product campaigns, educating your sales and marketing teams, and building the product. Right now, I work with five product managers and a VP of product, a whole marketing and sales team, and we have two PMMs in my team. I manage another PMM, and even then, it feels like we don't have enough people. So, a good time to hire a product marketer is perhaps once you've passed Series A, your team is growing, scaling, and the product manager can't do everything on their own. That is the right time to bring in someone else to help.

Glasp: Just curious, at your company, how many people are working?

Andrea Saez: I think we're 150 now.

Glasp: 150, and two PMMs?

Andrea Saez: Yeah.

Glasp: Interesting. Also related to product management and team orchestration, in a big team, there are a lot of features from sales, marketing, and engineering teams. How do you decide which feature to build next?

Andrea Saez: That, I think, is the one problem every product manager in the world has. I don't think it matters the size of your team; you're always going to have the problem of how to decide. The first thing we do is focus on our OKRs and what our OKRs are. We have a North Star, and each team has their product-level OKRs or marketing OKRs. As feedback comes in, we need to decide what the common theme is within this feedback. If there is a particular idea or problem we identify, does it link to the OKRs we have? If it doesn't, it gets reassessed later in the next quarter. But it does all have to link back to our business OKRs and how we're trying to impact them.

Glasp: Can I ask more? You can estimate or expect a feature will increase a KPI or OKR in advance, but the estimation is always not right. We expect a feature to increase sign-ups, but later on, we find it doesn't. Do you have any tips on estimating how a feature or service will impact an OKR?

Andrea Saez: To be honest, there's no tips. Sometimes you just have to do the research and see what happens. A great example is we thought we needed to focus on a feature last quarter. The team did research, built wireframes, and we were sure it was going to be great. Then user research showed it was the wrong feature or solving the wrong problem. My biggest tip would be to do the research and be wrong early before you build the whole feature and realize after six months that nobody wants it. It's great to see the team taking the time to gather initial feedback, build a wireframe of the solution, and quickly realize if it's not right. If you can be wrong early, that's the time to be wrong.

Glasp: That makes sense. If developers can build it in three or four hours, we can build and test it. Depending on the team size, if the team is small, we couldn't afford time and money to research. Just build it, ship it, and see how it goes.

Andrea Saez: Exactly. Low code, no code, wireframes, Figma, whatever takes the least amount of time to learn from. You're right; do that before building something for six months. Gather feedback, learn from it, and iterate.

Glasp: Do you have an opposite example, where you didn't know if something would work but it turned out great?

Andrea Saez: Yes, a long time ago, we had a feedback mechanism where people could give a thumbs up, thumbs down, or neutral and write feedback. The buttons weren't accessible; they were red and green with no alt text. Someone said they were colorblind and couldn't tell the difference. It took us three or four hours to change it, and we got unexpected feedback from people thanking us. The change increased engagement with that feature. Quick wins can have big impacts. I always encourage the marketing team and product marketing team to do quick impactful changes if they have the time and space.

Glasp: Totally makes sense. Nowadays, people are obsessed with using AI. How has your work as a PM or PMM changed because of AI? Does your team or company use any AI tools?

Andrea Saez: We use AI quite a lot. We've also built an AI, which is helpful. In terms of using it every day, it's enabled team members who don't have time to write blog posts to do that faster. Engineers who want to share their work but aren't comfortable writing can lean on AI. It's growing their confidence. They edit the AI work themselves now. On the other end, we've built an AI coach for mental health and well-being. You can ask it for tips, and it points you to resources. It speaks over 50 languages and is super smart. The prompt is built by our clinical psychologists. It reroutes people having a mental health crisis to a helpline and resources. It's like a coach guiding you through tricky situations at work.

Glasp: Interesting. Did it increase KPIs? Has it impacted the company or product team's KPIs? How has people's behavior and adoption changed over the last two years?

Andrea Saez: People are adopting AI more and feel more comfortable with it, but there's still a group that doesn't trust it. There are two polarizing ends: those who trust it too much and those who don't trust it at all. Both ends are wrong. If you don't trust it, you'll get left behind. AI is developing quickly, and you have to learn to use it to your benefit. Those who trust it too much might not question some of its answers. AI tends to hallucinate and give confident but incorrect answers. You need to adopt it and engage with it but also use your common sense to question it.

Glasp: Totally makes sense. What tools do you personally or your team use for workflow, note-taking, and knowledge management?

Andrea Saez: We use Notion a lot. We're fully on Figma and FigJam. Our AI coach is GPT-based. Personally, I use GPT, Gemini, and Claude. I'll use all three to double-check things and see if they come up with different words or ideas. Sometimes I'll compare the quality for fun.

Glasp: Have you seen differences when you use the same prompt with them?

Andrea Saez: Definitely. Gemini is really good at short, concise answers, like creating catchy ideas for a landing page. GPT is better with long-form content but not as good with marketing stuff. Claude hasn't been better than either of the other two for me. I often go between Gemini and GPT. For example, for naming a new feature, I put information into Gemini, copied the results into a FigJam board, and used that as a baseline for our ideation session. It helps kick off the ideation process.

Glasp: AI in ideation phase and blogging, translation, and ideation. Interesting use cases. You are publishing a new book. What made you decide to write a book about product management?

Andrea Saez: Like many things in my life, it was an accident. I was working closely with Dave Martin, my co-author. We had been writing a series of blog posts for about three or four months. I saw a common thread and thought we might have material for a book. Dave quickly agreed. Before committing to the book, we wrote a white paper called "Product Market Fit is Dead," tested the idea, and got good feedback. Then we wrote the book.

Glasp: How long was the article? Was it a prototype?

Andrea Saez: Yes, it was a prototype for the book. The white paper is about seven pages. It's still on Product Hunt if you look it up. Once we got the feedback, we went ahead with the book. The book writing itself took about 10 months.

Glasp: Could you tell us the details of the book?

Andrea Saez: Of course. The book is called "The Product Momentum Gap." It focuses on organizational alignment, ensuring alignment from the top down to marketing, support, and sales. It's about aligning around key user behaviors to influence business growth and communicate value. If your team isn't aligned around those behaviors, you experience the product momentum gap. Your team is building something, but your customer base or marketing isn't aligned. Closing that gap involves aligning user behaviors from the C-level down to marketing, ensuring a great customer experience and scalability.

Glasp: Thank you for the great advice. We resonate with what you mentioned about common mistakes in startups. Building something but not aligning with customers or marketing teams.

Andrea Saez: It happens to everybody. Teams grow fast, and you don't have time to communicate. The book is about organizational alignment. We have templates for meetings and workshops to align around user behaviors, measure them, and communicate them. Product management and product marketing should work closely together.

Glasp: Thank you. You started with publishing articles online and turned it into a book. How was your career and past experience in online publishing?

Andrea Saez: It doesn't feel like a huge step from one to the other because I've always been writing. But writing a book is very different from writing an article. With an article, if you're wrong, you can delete or update it. With a book, if you're wrong, it's hard to correct. A funny example is a bad spelling mistake in the printed copy of our book. It's self-published, so we can update it on Amazon, but I have a printed copy with a mistake. Writing a book is more emotional. It's like building a product, with a lot of iterations. Feedback can be harsh because you're so dedicated to building it. About three weeks before publishing, we completely tore the book apart and put it back together. It was 10 months of work to rip it apart and reshuffle it, but it made the book better.

Glasp: How did you spend the 10 months? Planning, writing?

Andrea Saez: The first four months were mirror sessions to decide what to talk about and the structure. We wrote a little, came together, revised, and repeated. The next six months were intense writing and breaks. I had a full-time job, so I could only do so much. Sometimes you need to step back from the problem. We spent about a month on feedback, then ripped the book apart and put it back together in August. It went live in September. If I write another book, I'd get feedback earlier, but you need to show the whole narrative together. It was an interesting experience.

Glasp: What's the final moment you decided to go with the final version?

Andrea Saez: After getting feedback and ripping it apart, I took a week and a half off. The psychological and mental stress was too much. Dave, my co-author, took the book, rearranged it, and sent it back to me. When I saw the new structure, it was so much better. I trusted him with the process. It was great to have someone there to support me and look at the puzzle differently. We leaned on each other throughout the process. Having someone who thinks differently is invaluable.

Glasp: Beautiful. Thank you. Our audience includes aspiring product managers, product marketing managers, and writers. Do you have any advice for them?

Andrea Saez: Be kind to yourself and be patient. I found what I love to do by trying different things and being patient. You're never too late to pivot in your career. Try new things. I never saw myself as a writer or a product marketer, but here I am. Be kind to yourself and don't be afraid to try new things. You never know where it might lead.

Glasp: Makes sense. Be open-minded too. Before ending our talk, since Glasp is a platform where people accumulate digital legacy for others, what kind of legacy or impact do you want to leave behind?

Andrea Saez: That's a big question. I think empathy. Practicing empathy is something we don't talk about enough in product management. Empathy for others, yourself, knowing when to take a break, step back, take risks. Being wrong is part of the process. If you're never wrong, you're not learning. Being wrong is something to be celebrated because you learn from it. Practicing empathy is key.

Glasp: Beautiful. It's all about the process and learning. Thank you, Andrea, for joining us today at Glasp Talk. We really enjoyed and learned a lot from the conversation with you.

Andrea Saez: Thank you for inviting me.


Follow Andrea Saez on social:

Twitter

Share Your Excitement

Ready to highlight and find good content?

Glasp is a social web highlighter that people can highlight and organize quotes and thoughts from the web, and access other like-minded people’s learning.

Start Highlighting