Interview: Jason Maynard, NetSuite

During the SuiteWorld business festival in Las Vegas, caught up with Jason Maynard, SVP of marketing and strategy at NetSuite, to discuss sector disruption, effective marketing strategies and going global.

NetSuite, the global cloud business management software company, was acquired by Oracle in 2016, when the tech giant began running NetSuite as a dedicated business unit.

Here, at the organisation’s annual SuiteWorld convention in Las Vegas, we talk to NetSuite SVP of marketing and strategy Jason Maynard on the requirement for companies to retain a global outlook, the key marketing considerations for scale businesses, and how organisations can best balance managing core strategy with driving innovation.

What is the goal of SuiteWorld?

The goal of SuiteWorld in our eighth year is to connect our customers with the people who build products and services. We are holding hundreds of business sessions and around 80 per cent of them have a customer in the session. People go to a session and they hear from one of our product people but they also see how a business implements what we do.

People come here to learn and we all learn in different ways. We’re creating a sense of community and building that connection where you have a problem as a business, you’re trying to solve it, and how you go about solving it.

What is the main barrier to growth you see for businesses today?

Going global is a huge theme in business today. The shift towards globalisation is happening sooner and sooner. We looked at the number of customers that were buying our OneWorld (NetSuite’s global operations platform) product in 2017 compared to 2007, and it was 36 times as many.

That’s partially because we’re growing as a company, but whether you’re in the UK, US, Singapore, or elsewhere, you’re probably buying components for your end product from places other than just your country, you’re probably selling in other places, or you’ve got a workforce elsewhere. Being global is how you compete now.

What are the big challenges of going global for a scale-up?

The biggest challenge isn’t always legal, or tax, or compliance, it’s how you retain your culture when you expand internationally. How do you make sure the DNA of your company is the same in Asia as in London, or Los Angeles? Wherever you are situated, it’s what you can keep what makes you unique.

It’s the cultural things that often get you into trouble. If you expand too fast it’s hard to preserve whatever made you different in one area. You need to keep that special edge you have when you go into new markets. You don’t want to have your new people teaching your new people.

As for us, there were all these questions that arose when we were acquired; people want to know what’s going to change. The theme [at SuiteWorld] last year was Next Starts Now – the message that this is just the beginning, not the end. Fast forward 12 months and everything has played out as expected; more international locations, more R&D for our verticals. I report to [Netsuite executive vice president] Jim McGeever, and Jim reports straight to [Oracle CEO] Mark Hurd; Oracle is running a flat structure with NetSuite as a dedicated business unit.

As a VP of marketing, what general advice do you have for scale-ups on marketing their product and maximising exposure?

The first thing you have to do is understand the category you’re playing in. Are you the incumbent or not? Most of the time you’re trying to pioneer something new, and in that case you have to be crystal clear on how your value proposition resonates; what makes you different or unique. You don’t want to compete on someone else’s playing field. How do you define the rules on your positioning to highlight that you’re solving the problem the market has?

A lot of companies fail when they think they can compete in a category based on the merits of just their product. There’s a lot of ‘me too-ism’ out there.

How much of a growth company’s attention should be on innovation rather than just day-to-day functions?

In our business, we always have to do the basic things that keep the lights on, in turns of running the business, aligning with sales, making sure marketing is generating awareness and demand and lead volume, but you’ve got to manage your business so that you’ve always got 10-15 per cent of your budget focused on the big bets you can make to leap ahead of the competition, and be able to run the two in parallel.

You’ve got to have certain people on your team whose sole purpose is to figure out how to win the next war. You can’t have someone in charge of running global PR on Monday to Thursday and then on Friday (s)he’s got to figure out the next entirely brand new thing the company is going to do in two years, that person needs to focus on what’s happening right now.

If you want to make the big change in your business you have to have a dedicated small team whose sole purpose is to make those bets and decisions that are not encumbered by what you’re doing today.

How do you achieve that?

When you’re a small company it’s got to be your founders who drive innovation. That’s the magic of entrepreneurship, the ability to use the left brain and right brain simultaneously; not just to bring home the bacon but also to fire it up in the pan! That’s what makes entrepreneurs amazing. When you do scale, it’s not entrepreneurship in the same way as starting something, but it’s that adaptability that’s key. What makes someone an entrepreneur? It’s someone not afraid of uncertainty, with an ability to manage change.

Further reading on company growth


John Bromley

John was Head of Digital Media at's previous owner Vitesse Media from 2016 to 2018.