CMO Insights: Gaidar Magdanurov, CMO of Acronis

Gaidar

May 6, 2019

This week’s guest on CMO Insights is Gaidar Magdanurov, CMO of Acronis.

In this video, Gaidar talks about:

  • The evergrowing and super connected marketing world.
  • The marketer’s role is changing and evolving due to marketing technology.
  • Gaining key insights by focusing on the customer journey from the customer’s perspective.

Learn more about Gaidar from his LinkedIn profile and follow Acronis on Twitter.

For more great CMO interviews like this one, please check out our other CMO Insights Videos or our YouTube channel.

Full Transcript

Jeff Pedowitz:

Hi, welcome to Revenue Marketing Television, the CMO Insights Series. I’m your host, Jeff Pedowitz, President and CEO of the Pedowitz Group. So as our guest, we have Gaidar Magdanurov, who is Chief Marketing Officer at Acronis. Gaidar, welcome to the show.

Gaidar Magdanurov:

Thank you for letting me, Jeff.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Pleasure to have you. So we were talking about a lot of fun stuff before the interview started. One of the last things that you told me was you’re, you almost have your pilot’s license.

Gaidar Magdanurov:

Yeah, I’m working on it. So, you know, I don’t have a lot of time to actually spend enough time on my taking my flight lessons. So it’s taking, taking a while. So I’m looking for probably may next year to get it and then I’ll be flying around with my family. So

Jeff Pedowitz:

What’s harder when learning have a fly a plane or figuring out how to be a great marketer, especially with all this technology

Gaidar Magdanurov:

That’s kind of, you don’t, it’s kind of different, but I think there are a lot of things that are similar. So what’s difficult about flying a plane is that you have to do many things at the same time. So you’re controlling the Yorkie. The riders you’re looking at, the instruments is Kenny for traffic. So you’re doing a lot of things at the same time. And if you are not giving attention to all of those things together, you may die. So in marketing, you know, slightly different if you’re not paying attention to something, you may lose your job, at least you know, dying. But at the end of the day the thing is that you have to be able to look at many things at the same time, not hyper focusing on one thing. Otherwise you fail at your job.

Jeff Pedowitz:

That’s a good perspective. Yeah. We try and tell our customers a lot that, Hey, look, if no one’s going to die here, so now I can really tell them that, Hey, listen I talk to Gidar, he flies planes. You could really die doing that. You’re not going to die just sending out a bed, email. But, but all that being said cause you’ve been doing this for awhile now. And do you think that marketing has gotten harder over the years?

Gaidar Magdanurov:

I would say it’s, it’s getting different. So the hardest part I would say is connected that there is definitely more competition, especially in this super connected it world. You’re competing with everybody and everybody has access to the same tools and tools are replacing a lot of work that used to be a card core marketing expertise. So for example, in the past you do customer segmentation. You have some very wise guy who is looking at your customer segments, selecting the groups of customers and then coming up with some messages. Now we can have an AI based system that will send different messages to different types of customers and based on the responses it will automatically segment the customer for the future campaign. So you don’t even have to do anything with that. And what I’m seeing now, especially using the, using those automation tools is that sometimes you cannot even control it.

Gaidar Magdanurov:

So the system decides who is getting what kind of message, what kind of cadence and you are not in of the nurturing is any more like that. You designed it and it just works. It actually just the content you add there and then the system decides if we are showing it to the particular role in the company or we’re not showing to a particular role in that company. So from that perspective, marketing is definitely getting harder because there is more competition. But the symptom is getting more interesting because you, instead of just doing this day to day job of trying to figure out things, you can be very creative and come up with new ideas. And if you really want to compete and and fight against competition, you have to come up with something new. So I would say it’s more harder and more interesting.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So do you think that I missed an interesting, I mean there’s, I see some parallels there, right? If machines can start to do the segmentation, the analysis, figure out what the offer the sand, it’s a lot of ways what happened to manufacturing jobs, right? With robotics and automation. So our people is our marketers job’s in jeopardy or are they just changing or both?

Gaidar Magdanurov:

I think they are changing. So in the past we have different roles and people would be specializing on one segment or one special field of marketing. But now everybody should be a generalist. You have to understand what are the other thing that are happening around you. So you can be just a PR person, a communications person, analyst, relationship person and internal communication. You have to understand the tools, the other parts of marketing and how can you contribute to those parts of marketing machines will take control over the simple things. So marketing operations will be easier. Segmentation will be easier. Testing messages, testing websites is much easier now, but coming up with new ideas that requires a, like a broad vision towards what is happening around.

So every person in marketing should be very much alert about what’s going on in the market and within their organization. And extremely detailed oriented towards what is what is the current task and what are the achievements that we were working towards. So I, I believe that from, from, from this perspective, machines will definitely replace some of the functions and the people who will be irrelevant to the market will be the people who know different functions and who are, who know what’s going on behind this black box of AI working for marketing.

Jeff Pedowitz:

That’s a, that’s a very good insight. So it, customer experience, everyone talks about that now. I mean, not that it’s new or anything, right? Having a good customer experience important for a while, but how do you truly deliver a good customer experience and make it operational, right? I mean, what company is not going to say they don’t want to put their customer first, but then to actually make that happen through all your channels and touch points and communications and reinforce your brand and deliver something that’s authentic. How do you go about doing that?

Gaidar Magdanurov:

You know, my personal opinion is the, the most complicated thing in marketing. Because what we see a lot of people in marketing, they tend to look at any problem from their own perspective. So Willow, our pro Lama product, we know everything about a product. And we tried to push all the information by the product towards the customer, but customer may not be even ready to accept that information. And I cannot say that we are doing the best job with that. We are constantly striving to improve. But the way we doing that is we are trying to look at anything we do from the customer perspective. So when we think about Acronis marketing, it’s basically about getting customers to be informed and educated. So we’re thinking, okay, what can we give to a customer? So that will be interesting and useful for them even if they’re not going to buy our solution or choose our solution for a particular project.

But, how can we educate them about something? And if they bought the product and then way way down the customer life cycle, they already bought the product and very loyal customer, how can we keep them interested in our product? And our market is a little bit challenging because people pay us money not to see our software because we about data protection. We actually about cyber protection. So if you don’t see a Kronos, it means that everything’s great. Nothing happens on your system. So in our case less people that use our products the better. But at the same time, this is a challenge because you have to explain people why there still value in the product. How can we optimize their business processes or help them to store more data or protect data or share data. So do something useful for the business. So the only way for us to solve this problem is to constantly think about it from my perspective, what would I do if I would be in the customer shoes and to do that with just talking to customers.

So I’m a, as a CMO or how we call it an apprentice, an MO Acronis marketing officer. We, I talk with customers all the time. So my goal is to have at least one conversation with customer per day, sometimes more than one. So I’m constantly talking to customers of different products and collecting feedback on how they perceive a cornice and how they perceive our products, what are the current issues. And quite often I see that we’re totally happy. Everything great. You have the best product in the world. What would like to recommend you, but it seems like we’re not getting enough information from you about where are you heading, what are you doing, what is your strategy, what are their vision? So that tells me that we should be more open and communicate to customers about what we see will happen in the future.

Jeff Pedowitz:

I love that. So in addition to that, have you gotten any key insights by talking to your customers over the last year that you might not have? No. If you didn’t reach out.

Gaidar Magdanurov:

Actually, almost every time I talk to the customers I learned something new. At least if I, if I heard something interesting from a customer, I would ask multiple other customers. And my own rule is like rule of 20. So I need to speak at least to 20 customers to confirm that this is something that they see. And I got a lot of insights and for our particular industry and, and, and we’d global companies that would present in different countries and in different countries, the it market is slightly different. But if, if we talk specifically about the U S market, what I was hearing about customers specifically in the context of data storage, data protection backup the customer, thinking about how to use data to drive value for the business. So it’s not just having a copy of your data, accessible copy that you can quickly use to recover. So you’re not losing time and money. But it’s rather how can we also use that copy to deliver our value? Meaning that I have data that is not on my production system and somewhere else. So why don’t I use it to analyze it because I don’t have to interact with my production assistant. I can do anything on my cold storage. So customers are looking towards that direction. What other value we can get from the copy of the data.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Interesting. So now how do you, once you get the feedback, so is it just you talking to the customer? So do you have other people on your team and within sales and within product also talking with the customer?

Gaidar Magdanurov:

Yeah. I encourage everybody to talk about the product with customers, partners all the time. So it’s me and my team, a lot of people in my team talking to customers. Every time I hear something interesting I will pull somebody from a specific department, get them on a call together with me and we’ll get product management or salespeople depending on the function that can contribute the particular conversation. And in our company we encourage everybody just staying in touch with customers. So product management, product development, team, marketing team, sales team, even backend team finance team talking to customers. I love that.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So if you look at your whole mix of marketing programs and campaigns, how much is weighted towards net new with top of funnel and then how much is geared towards lifecycle marketing like onboarding and loyalty and advocacy and et cetera.

Gaidar Magdanurov:

I would say that it is changing cause we were changing the strategy of the company dramatically. We S we started as a typical software company selling box products. And now we transitioned towards the cloud company where we deliver a platform for service providers. And then they in turn deliver the services to customers. So last year or this year I was my focus was on working with existing customer base, so it was bottom of the funnel people who already interested in our solutions or even existing customers. And the idea was to move them towards the solution that is better for them solution that they can get through service providers because there’s a win-win situation. They’re buying the solution from service providers. Service providers can offer better pricing because they buy hardware and bulk so they can offer lower cost, a lower total cost of ownership, the end customer and for the customer using the sole software on a subscription model, they don’t have to pay up front and they can scale as you go though there’s a win-win situation.

So we’re working with those customers to, to drive them towards the service provider, provider channel and the next year I’m changing my focus towards the acquisition of new customers. And I would say that those people will be about 50 50, 50% toward the net new customer acquisition and 50% on existing customer life cycle. And the situation that we have a lot of customers, we serve more than 500,000 businesses around the world and a lot of them are steel on the kind of older platform or perpetual software that they use. And our goal is to get them towards the cloud model and service, provide provider model and building that channel. So that’s why I still have significant amount of time.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Look at all the companies it’s worked for, right? Adobe, Oracle, SAP. As this company has moved to the cloud, it’s a, it’s good for everybody, right? I mean it’s good for the customer. Certainly it’s good business for sure. How are you measured? So w what is your philosophy? Do you and your team accountable for it?

Gaidar Magdanurov:

So I have three major, major goals. One is definitely the pipeline. I will look at the marketing source pipeline and marketing influenced pipeline. And the metrics may be a bit complicated and sophisticated, but in reality is just how many leads did we drive, how many opportunities we created, and then how many opportunities were influenced and different ways it can be supersizing the deal helping say sales to shorten the cycle or just allowing sales to upsell or cross sell to two particular customer. So pipeline is one metric.

The second important metric for us, because we are partner driven company, most of our businesses is closed through partners and one of my metrics are driving business or partners in the way that our sales are not involved. We call it run rate business that happening without our sales team attention. And that’s the second thing that is important for us. And the third one is of course, brand awareness and that we measure it through surveys, through mentions, reviews in the media, through customer feedbacks social media and stuff like that.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Good stuff. And it didn’t do drive those metrics down through your team. So they held the held responsible for the same things as well.

Gaidar Magdanurov:

Yeah. So the way we do setting target, we exited setting targets in our company. We have executive levels, core art with a number of metrics influencing the business. So almost every exec if contribute to all of the metrics, but some of those metrics, I’m more marketing driven. So those metrics and my responsibility and then cascading it down. And when I said targets to the people, one level will mean what what I’m doing as I’m looking at the two sets of metrics, there’s always important metrics. So the number that should be growing and then the quality. So let’s say if it’s a pipeline, there should be conversion rate. If it’s organic traffic to the website, again, conversion rate. If it’s trials, then it’s activation rate. So every time there’s volume metric and the quality metric that is assigned to it, and then all the target is that coming down to people in my organization, the old kind of assemble and the same scorecard that I would use to represent to executive team so everybody somehow contributes to the end result.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Excellent. Well, a lot, a lot, a lot of great things going on over there. Thank you so much for being on the program today and good luck with that pilot license. I think that’s, that’s really cool. Thank you. Alright, I’m going to change the marketing person. We’ll just squeeze it in, in between all the other craziness we got going on. But yeah, I love it.

Gaidar Magdanurov:

You know, the way I found time for it as basically I wake up like 5:00 AM in the morning, I go to the airport and I’m flying for an hour probably once or twice a week. I drive to the office, so I show up early and at the same time I had an hour in, so it’s pretty good. The only problem is with new England weather, though.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Sure. A good way to clear the head. I mean, most of us just go for a cup of coffee. You’re like, no, I’ll just, I’ll just go fly my plane. That’s good.

Gaidar Magdanurov:

Yeah, Yeah.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Love it. Well, thank you Gaidar. I really appreciate it.

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