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iTech Series Unplugged Interview with Natalia Marusic, EMEA Alliance Marketing Manager at Lenovo

Shayne Barretto

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iTech Series Unplugged Interview with Natalia Marusic

Natalia Marusic, EMEA Alliance Marketing Manager at Lenovo, discusses the complexities of GTM strategy, partner marketing, budget efficiency, the marketing technology stack, and more.

Natalia, we’re delighted to have you for this interview. Can you tell us about your journey as a marketing expert and your current role at Lenovo?

Thank you for having me. I’m thrilled to share my marketing career journey with you. I’ve always been eager to learn, and my career began over 15 years ago while I was still studying. I started at Ipsos Interactive Services, a market research company, where I worked on various projects.

After my time at Ipsos, I transitioned into B2B marketing in the IT sector, which I quickly fell in love with. This path led me to work with esteemed companies such as VMware, IBM, Bitdefender, Veeam, and now Lenovo. My passion lies in alliance marketing, a fascinating and complex field that blends business development with marketing. In my current role, I develop innovative demand generation and channel marketing programs with alliances.

From a go-to-market perspective, what are some of the key challenges and opportunities you’ve encountered in channel and partner marketing?

From a go-to-market perspective, channel and partner marketing present significant challenges and opportunities. Aligning the different visions and strategic priorities of multiple companies is crucial but challenging, as is coordinating teams with different processes and communication methods. Maintaining brand consistency across joint marketing efforts can also be tricky. However, partner marketing offers numerous benefits. By combining resources and expertise, partners can offer more comprehensive solutions, streamline efforts, and create more impactful campaigns. Pooled marketing budgets enable larger, more ambitious campaigns, and partnering often expands market reach by accessing a wider audience.

In summary, while there are challenges, the opportunities for alignment, collaboration, and joint value creation in channel and partner marketing often outweigh the hurdles, leading to greater market success. I’m a true believer in “Better Together”!

In terms of your marketing budget, how do you ensure you’re effectively utilizing the marketing funds allocated to you?

To effectively use the marketing funds, I focus on several key strategies. First and most importantly, align with sales and regional teams to identify market opportunities and set clear objectives. I prioritize quality over quantity for faster ROI with targeted, personalized campaigns and data-driven decisions. Regular performance reviews and adaptability are also crucial. Finally, fostering collaboration and open communication across teams ensures everyone is aligned and working towards shared goals, maximizing the impact of our marketing budget.

“Think outside the box, be creative, and explore innovative and unconventional marketing strategies”.

What advice would you give marketing leaders to encourage their teams to push beyond traditional marketing approaches and contribute within an integrated revenue organization structure?

Here’s some advice based on my experience: think outside the box, be creative, and explore innovative and unconventional marketing strategies. Innovation often leads to discovering low-cost, high-impact activities that yield surprising results. Always focus on ROI with a result-driven mindset. Be a marketer with sales thinking. Lastly, maintain open communication, encourage teamwork, and celebrate success!

From a go-to-market (GTM) alignment perspective, how do you ensure content development aligns with and supports specific sales needs?

From a GTM perspective, ensuring content development aligns with and supports specific sales needs begins with close collaboration between marketing and sales. Understanding technology solutions, current market challenges, and customer needs are crucial steps to ensure that content development supports the GTM sales strategy effectively.

Which metrics do you track most closely to measure the effectiveness of partner or alliance marketing campaigns?

Pipeline is the answer to all the questions. In addition to the pipeline, the key metrics including the number of high-quality leads, partner engagement, conversation rate, customer acquisition cost, and last but not least, the long-term relationship impact.

How do you or your teams integrate AI into your overall marketing technology stack?

I’m fortunate to be part of Lenovo, an innovative leader in the AI market. At Lenovo, we utilize a cutting-edge marketing tool called Studio AI, which we also make available externally. This solution guides our marketing and sales teams through the content creation process, using an LLM trained with our guidelines and IP, so it can read content briefs and generate original content like presentations, infographics, and campaign visuals in real time. With Studio AI, we are able to create assets for new products up to eight times faster than our previous methods, which has had a huge impact on how efficient we are.

Lenovo

Lenovo is a global technology leader known for its innovative products and solutions. Focused to deliver Smarter Technology for All, Lenovo has built on its success as the world’s largest PC company with a pocket-to cloud portfolio of AI-enabled, AI-ready, and AI-optimized devices (PCs, workstations, smartphones, tablets), infrastructure (server, storage, edge, high performance computing and software defined infrastructure), software, solutions, and services. Lenovo’s continued investment in world-changing innovation is building a more equitable, trustworthy, and smarter future for everyone, everywhere.

Natalia Marusic is a seasoned marketing professional with over 15 years of experience in marketing for top tech companies like VMware, IBM, Bitdefender, Veeam, and now Lenovo, where she serves as the EMEA Alliance Marketing Manager. She specializes in alliance marketing, blending business development with innovative marketing strategies. Passionate about achieving results and fostering strong partnerships, she excels in crafting effective GTM strategies, optimizing marketing budgets, and leveraging AI in marketing technology.

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