The Path to Success: Insights of Marketing Specialist Ibrahim Bahonjic

The Path to Success: Insights of Marketing Specialist Ibrahim Bahonjic

Welcome to Marketer Interview, the leading blog where we dive deep into the minds of influential marketers and uncover their strategies, experiences, and insights.

In today’s interview, we have the pleasure of speaking with Ibrahim Bahonjic, a Marketing Specialist at Gamma Technologies.

Ibrahim is a self-proclaimed “generalist” marketer who thrives on building genuine relationships and finding solutions that provide value.

With his expertise in market research, consulting, content writing and strategy, social media marketing, and project management, Ibrahim has carved out a successful career in the ever-evolving marketing world.

Join us as we explore Ibrahim’s journey, career highlights, and invaluable advice for fellow marketers.

Can you tell us about your journey into the field of marketing?

Marketing has always been a part of my life.

I’ve always been fascinated with creating things for an audience and understanding what makes a great experience.

My start in marketing came from my childhood creating school projects (poster boards, flyers, writing works), comic books, videos, short stories, presentations, and other projects.

In hindsight, I understood the power of mass distribution of ideas that inspire reaction or “sell” new thinking to others early on.

Through high school, I had the opportunity to see marketing through first-hand experiences by doing things such as:

  • Fundraise for university field trips via Valentine’s Day custom mug pre-order sales during lunch periods
  • Organize a prom bus and use social media to get friends on board
  • Help a friend grow his eCommerce store and learn the power of data analytics and paid digital advertising via Facebook ads

All those moments gave me an excellent taste for business, and when I reached DePaul University, I didn’t have a defined business major.

I was tossed between international business and business administration, but I realized these areas weren’t it.

Like a sore thumb, I saw how marketing, primarily through the sales leadership and honors marketing program concentrations, was most relatable to my experiences.

Flash forward to today. I’ve been learning and working as a Marketing Specialist!

As a self-proclaimed “generalist” marketer, what advantages do you find in having a diverse skill set across various marketing disciplines?

The advantage of having diverse skill sets within marketing is that it helps you become a forever marketing student.

By getting your hands dirty or trying new disciplines, you must understand which channels make sense to generate and capture demand for your products/services.

Throughout my career, this helped me realize what skill sets I’m capable of and the areas I want to grow. In addition, by being tied to one specialized position, I have the freedom to learn and experiment.

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Could you share some of your most memorable projects or campaigns that highlight your ability to build genuine relationships and provide value to customers?

Throughout my college years, I had the opportunity to have various real-world consulting and sales-oriented projects in my studies.

One experience that stood out was helping a Swedish Tex-Mex food company called El Taco Truck develop market entry strategies for the German market.

Within my consulting team, I assisted with our marketing research efforts by:

  • Deeply understanding German food culture using Euromonitor Passport databases
  • Interviewing German-based colleagues and family members
  • Incorporating anthropologic studies & tools such as the Hofstede framework

These experiences allowed me to understand new cultures and bridge new cuisine partnerships. Leaders of El Taco Truck were inspired and appreciative of these connections.

Early in my professional career, one of the most memorable campaigns I was fortunate to be a part of was assisting in the exposure for a webinar campaign for SAE International which featured case studies from NASA and the RISE Research Institutes of Sweden.

The webinar topic involved reducing battery thermal runaways (battery fires) and how simulation can help develop battery packs before physical development.

This campaign used video promotion, email marketing to engage customers and webinar attendees before and post event, and other social media content to gain awareness!

This campaign resulted in over 2k impressions, 41% signup conversions and became that year’s #1 commercial webinar!

The entire experience was a collective effort between sales, engineering teams, and marketing to help raise the importance of these issues and build trust to test engineers & their teams to understand the value of simulation.

What methodologies and tools do you use to conduct effective market research and gather valuable insights?

To quote Sid Khaitan’s interview, it’s super important to get clarity on the specific tasks that align with overall business objectives before conducting research. Once those are clearly defined, you can then start conducting research.

The main tools for data and analytics come from our website, social media channels (YouTube, LinkedIn), past successful campaigns (and failures), and customer/prospect data from HubSpot & Salesforce.

From there, we take the above insights and see what content creation and go-to-market strategies that make sense.

For instance, what legacy customers appreciate in order to understand our offerings and overall brand better may differ for a newer audience. Overtime, certain marketing plays will be cut or further encouraged.

Most importantly, throughout this process, it’s vital to continue to collect insights such as qualitative data from our website request fills, primarily through self-attribution means such as the “How do you hear about us?” question, and note quantitative data points (views, likes, comments, number of registrations to events, others) to see what retains interests.

The critical thing to note here is you don’t need the most complex tech stacks or tools to do this!

Understanding your prospect and customer needs and having them directly aligned with sales development inspire your decision-making and should drive company growth.

How do you approach content creation and ensure it aligns with the marketing objectives?

Like the research question above, content creation must align with company objectives.

Within my organization at GT, our engineers and sales team have various product developments and capabilities that deserve proper exposure to our target audiences.

Within my team, we prioritize all the product and application developments that customers and prospects alike find value or want to learn more about, and we structure content around those.

I manage our blog and customer email newsletter efforts and work closely with our engineering teams to help refine and publish their works.

Most importantly, I make sure the content we put out is suitable from an SEO standpoint and enables prospects and customers to gain new learnings from these works.

Which social media platforms have you found most effective for your marketing campaigns?

When it comes to social media, it’s all about fully aligning with your target audiences and knowing what content best serves their needs.

For us, LinkedIn and Youtube have been my firm’s best-performing social media channels.

LinkedIn is our strongest platform that enables current customers and new followers to gain immediate insights on new product developments through various content (new videos, blogs, website content updates, and others), event promotion, highlights of our company culture, and more.

YouTube is a growing and evolving platform that allows current and new users to get educated by our application experts and customers sharing their experiences via recordings from our company conferences.

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Can you share an example of a complex project you managed and how you ensured its timely completion?

Last April, I had the opportunity to lead event coordination efforts at the SAE World Congress Experience (WCX) in Detroit, Michigan.

Over 15 of my colleagues participated as organizers, chairpersons, presenters, or authors at technical sessions while I, sales leaders, and other colleagues managed our company booth at the exhibition area.

This meant having to prep and drive booth materials to the event, ensuring our looping slides were up-to-date, ensuring our booth had enough educational materials or resources to aid those visiting us, and overall logistics were in order.

To maintain organization, weeks before and leading to the event, I scheduled multiple group meetings of all the attendees to ensure we had proper booth coverage and an overall strong presence throughout the event.

I can proudly say we achieved all that and then some. It was an honor to witness one of our founding members, Dr. Syed Wahiduzzaman, receive SAE International’s highest level of membership, SAE Fellow.

Our technical sessions had a great reception and sparked active conversations with new and familiar faces.

What are some of the critical challenges you face as a marketing specialist?

The critical challenge as a marketing specialist is making specific required tasks and projects constantly prioritized.

With a lean team of three, we have to be scrappy and make sound decisions to stay efficient as a unit.

It’s easy to be pulled away from tasks that may not add value in the long term. However, daily communication and collaboration with my team are essential for our success.

What tools and software do you rely on to enhance your marketing efforts?

Regarding everything marketing, I enjoy taking courses and learning new marketing insights from HubSpot Academy.

Outside of that, I enjoy watching YouTube videos and watching/listening to podcasts. Revenue Vitals from Refine Labs and Blake Strozyk’s Driving Efficient Growth are some of my favorites!

The tools and software I use to enhance my day-to-day marketing efforts: are Google Analytics (learning GA4 sure will be a process), Canva, Camtasia, and TeamUp for daily content & event organization.

I use HubSpot form reports to gain qualitative & quantitative prospects and customer insights. I use Social Blade for social media analytics and YouTube’s channel analytics.

Last but not least, you can’t avoid the “elephant in the room,” Chat-GPT! This tool is excellent for content inspiration and generation.

What advice would you give aspiring marketers just starting their careers in the field?

Be a generalist!

Put yourself in new marketing environments where you can grow and learn multiple skill sets. However, especially in today’s Chat-GPT and AI world, these automated tools can hinder having specialized skill sets.

Having the ability to be broad always allows you to be flexible and adapt to changes in the industry. But, of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t recognize your strengths and maximize your talents when available (i.e., paid ads, SEO, and others).

Overtime, you become a servant leader who can assist your organization’s cross-department needs and use insights to strengthen your marketing efforts.

Lastly, are there any other marketing professionals you recommend us to reach out to for future interviews?

Too many to list!

Many mentioned are not “marketers” by official job titles, but each mentioned has great marketing ideologies and overall execution approaches for go-to-market (GTM).

I’ll recommend you reach out to Aatif Shaikh, Jay Holloway, Connor Mudd, Allie Carey, Amber Farooqui, Jillian Hampston, Connor Skelly, Alex Sofronas, Jamaal James, Jakub Rudnik, Stuart (Stu) Schisgall, and Jim Philips.

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