SalesTechStar Interview with Maryna Gaidak, Marketing Specialist at Ajustee
Marketing specialist Maryna Gaidak joins us in the SalesTechStar interview to discuss her journey in B2B marketing and sales while also sharing interesting takeaways and learnings from her time in the industry.
Catch the excerpts to grab more insights and tips on Marketing and Sales:
Can you tell us a little about yourself Maryna (including your hobbies!) and your biggest sales and marketing learnings/takeaways from your professional journey so far?
I was born and raised in Ukraine, and I consider it a huge privilege because I was basically bilingual by birth. From an early age, I was fluent in both Russian and Ukrainian, the last one also made it easy to understand Polish.
At the age of 15, I became a finalist of a US Department of State-sponsored exchange program (FLEX – future leaders exchange) and was hosted by an amazing American family in Wichita, KS.
I spent a year going to American high school and living the life of an American teenager. Learned English and absorbed the experience of a multicultural environment. A truly life-changing experience. After coming back to Ukraine from my exchange year I added one more language to my skills bucket – English.
I started learning marketing in college, and after the first year, I felt like it was time for another challenge and applied to study Mandarin Chinese at Kyiv National Linguistics University. By now I can say with confidence that I’ve lived and worked in all 4 business corners of the world – the United States, China, Europe (Ukraine) and the Middle East (Israel).
I think my marketing & sales journey started the day I got accepted to college. I was studying hard but always felt the urge to apply everything I learn to practice immediately, so I was constantly looking for opportunities to use my skills. From the age of 19, I found myself involved in marketing. In the early stages of my career, when I was still a student, I worked part-time mainly in traditional marketing with physical products. I marketed and sold heavy machinery like wire bending machines internationally – from the US and Europe to China, traveling across the globe, closing deals and leading negotiations in 4 languages. This multicultural experience taught me the first principle of localization and targeting the right audiences through first available marketing collateral like sales brochures, ad placements in physical trade magazines and so on.
Once the internet “took over the world” I was able to quickly translate all the basic principles of marketing and sales I learned in college and at work into digital form, and this is where I understood that the journey has only just started.
I consider my work to be my main passion, but whenever I get free time from strategy and constantly upgrading myself as a professional, I love to bake, play piano and travel.
What are the top 5 B2B Sales/Marketing Strategies that you follow as best practices for most of your campaigns?
B2U (Business to User) Marketing – end users are everything, even when you’re a solid B2B. A lot of the times we get to shape our own industries, educate the public and create the need for our solutions, so it’s not always about that decision-maker. Get your product in front of your end-users, who might not necessarily be the decision-makers when it comes to sales (software developers in our case at the moment). Let them see it work. There Is no SWAT on this planet that will give you a better understanding of what you’re dealing with.
Thought leadership. Stop selling and start teaching. Your team’s talent is your best resource. Spot those gems, help them tell everyone about their work from the inside. It will contribute to the authenticity of the brand and the product, which will eventually lead to better exposure and sales.
Solution selling. In a B2B environment, people are busy, so focusing on identifying the needs of the prospect by asking the right questions and listening before talking is the key to winning their attention over. Offer simple solutions to complex challenges, don’t sell a product.
Account-based selling & account-based marketing. Every account should be treated as a separate entity with its unique needs. The “one fits all” doesn’t work here. Sometimes it involves working with multiple stakeholders within your prospect’s company so the approach should be tailored and personalized.
Build brand awareness. Dominate the content space to reach the “I know that company” point. This will allow you to skip the consideration stage in the process your prospect would need to go through during initial purchase research.
Can you tell us about some of your biggest marketing and sales challenges at Ajustee and how you and your team optimize processes to win over those challenges?
Ajustee is like any other startup, but quite unique at the same time. While going through all the typical steps of a young establishing company, due to the peculiarities of our solution, the biggest challenge we are facing is resistance to change.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, as long as we can get ourselves in from of the end user’s eyes, they see the value 1 minute into the demo, however, the need for it doesn’t lie on the surface. Application configuration management often gets neglected or is being handled in a highly unproductive and costly manner in a lot of organizations of all sizes.
Our focus right now is around showing our audience, and the industry in general, that the hidden threat is and has been harming them. Improper settings storage and management cause money loss and pose security threats to sensitive corporate data. Ajustee comes in the game as an extremely smart and flexible solution that goes beyond anything existing. And the best thing about it – it’s a startup! The team’s agility allows bringing new initiatives to life within weeks, this is truly empowering.
According to you, what are the top 5 things that B2B Marketing and Sales leaders should always keep in mind when planning a Strategy for a new Tech tool/new Tech Product?
What you might think you’re promoting/selling might not convey the right message. Be open-minded. I can keep repeating this over and over – listen before talking. Before spending lots of time building campaigns and content, spending tons of money on promotions, test your messaging and offers. If you were lucky to get it right from the first time, please let me know 😊
Define your tactics. With the number of platforms and ways to promote nearly everything nowadays, it’s important not to get too distracted. Identifying the specific tactics and marketing channels beforehand will save you tons of time. What works for one company won’t necessarily work for another.
Content is king. If you’ve been in the business long enough this is old news, but most importantly – you get to decide what kind will fit your specific needs. According to the latest trends, B2B environment is reaching out to long reads more and more in search of truly insightful and useful information.
Value first. As exciting as making the first million for your company may seem, don’t try to chase money first. Such an approach might become a costly strategic mistake. Reverse the strategy and deliver value to millions of users in the first place.
Stay up to date. Even if you were lucky enough to enter the space with the lower competition it’s not the time to relax. On the contrary, things move faster than we think, so watching out for competitors or those who might potentially enter the arena is highly important. Industry news and updates should become a daily routine.
Can you tell us about some of your biggest and most successful sales or marketing initiatives/campaigns from your professional journey?
During my work at ironSource I was honored to be a part of a prominent professional team, and together we were crafting the strategy for launching a new cybersecurity solution. As challenging as it was given market saturation, learning from a team of first-class lead generation professionals helped me significantly contribute to the successful product launch.
The unique approach to positioning and branding helped us stand out from the crowd while being backed by top cybersecurity talent helped to form important partnerships with industry’s thought leaders like OPSWAT within a few months after launch.
What’s your smartest sales/marketing/leadership/productivity hack that you’d like to share with the audience?
I think most digital professionals are facing similar challenges. Whatever it is you do – sales, marketing, product managing, it eventually comes down to mastering multi-tasking and time management. One thing that helps me navigate the ever-growing list of various tasks is categorizing my work. There is research & strategy, there’s a lot of writing involved, there’s an analytics and there are creative processes.
Unlike routine tasks, creativity doesn’t always obey the schedules and deadlines. It’s important to find your own balance and understand what time is better for a particular kind of activity – reading, writing, working with numbers or working on new ideas. Without separating your work into different categories, it might be easy to get lost.
Tag (mention/write about) the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read!
Yam Regev, Co-Founder, CMO at Zest.is
Your favorite Sales/SalesTech quote
“The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.” — Tom Fishburne, Founder & CEO, Marketoonist
“It’s important to remember your competitor is only one mouse click away.” — Douglas Warner III, Former CEO, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co
“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchil
“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” – Steve Jobs
Tell us about some of the top sales/salestech/martech/other events that you’ll be participating in (as a speaker or guest!) in 2020!
We’re just at the beginning of our way and lots of great initiatives are planned, once we’re ready to go “offline” in a public arena you’ll be the first to know!
Ajustee was founded by two like minded partners who wanted to find a solution to a perpetual complexity of managing software configurations. Driven by years of experience in app development, product management and leading teams, they met in the right place at the right time. Combining business courage and passion to technology enabled both of them to partner with industry’s top tech talent, and developed applications and Ajustee kicked off.
Maryna is an experienced marketer with a demonstrated history of over 6 years implementing cross-functional marketing in the digital and over 5 more years in offline industries. Skilled in managing marketing teams, strategic planning and leading online and offline brand promotion activities. Strong in media and communication. A seasoned professional with international experience and in multilingual environments, as well as a committed team player and competent leader.