This post is based on an episode of MarketerHire's marketing operations webinar, MarketerLive. Scroll to the bottom for the full webinar video.
When Tamara Mendelsohn started at Eventbrite in 2009, the marketing org chart was pretty simple.
“There was one dot on it and it was me,” she told MarketerHire.
Now she serves as the CMO there, leading a team of over 60 people and collaborating closely with Eventbrite’s CPO, Casey Winters.
He started in the CPO role in 2019 — and he’s also had his fair share of experience in growth marketing. Before joining Eventbrite, Winters helped scale GrubHub from three cities to 1,000+.
Today, Mendelsohn and Winters’ multi-disciplinary team focuses on shared goals: bringing in event creators and sending sales marketing-qualified leads. Here’s the playbook they used to grow — and manage — their team.
It started with one marketer on organic social.
When Mendelsohn started at Eventbrite, the company was three years old and lean. “There was no real team and there was no real budget,” she said.
It was a challenge to build awareness and convince people to host events on the platform. She didn’t have the money — or, really, the infrastructure — for paid social ads. Facebook had just launched its ad platform in 2007, and Instagram wouldn’t start offering paid ads for a few years.
She turned to organic social instead.
“You could do a lot on social media, like Facebook, Twitter,” Mendelsohn said. “It was a great way to find and engage community.”
These days, TikTok might be the best platform for building organic branded communities. The #JohnDeere hashtag on TikTok has over 5 billion views — and the John Deere brand doesn’t even have a TikTok.
Next up — 4 key marketing hires.
When Eventbrite raised its first round of funding, Mendelsohn could hire a team.
She focused on growth and content first, hiring a growth marketer, SEO marketer, and designer. Next up? A product marketer.
Here’s why Mendelsohn picked the hires she did:
- Growth marketer: The term “growth marketer” had yet to be invented, though — back then, this was called an analyst role — but this hire “helped define what the funnel looked like and helped to figure out where and how to optimize the funnel,” Mendelsohn said.
- SEO marketer: Mendelsohn hired an SEO marketer next. “Because of the scale of the [Eventbrite] platform,” she said, “there was a huge opportunity to do acquisition through SEO.” No kidding: In 2017, Eventbrite used event tags to grow search traffic 100% YoY.
- Designer: A designer came next to help Mendelsohn’s team develop visual assets for the company. “I wanted to bring the brand … and the value proposition to life,” Mendelsohn said.
- Product marketer: After a while focused on growth and content, Eventbrite added a product marketer, “to really articulate the value proposition,” Mendelsohn said. This role started with research on the problems Eventbrite solved for customers, then focused on articulating that in a way that better resonated with their target audience.
They saved full-time headcount for proven channels.
Trial and error is a key part of a head of marketing’s job.
“You're exploring new ground, seeing if there's a water source, and if you plant a seed, will something grow?” Mendelsohn said.
“You're exploring new ground, seeing if there's a water source, and if you plant a seed, will something grow?”
When testing new ground, Mendelsohn and Winters have learned to wait to make a full-time hire until channels have proven themselves. In the testing stages, they experiment with freelancers or part-time hires.
That saves a lot of grief. For example: At one point, Mendelsohn started experimenting with direct mail, hoping mailers could encourage restaurants and local stores to host events through Eventbrite.
The results were disappointing. “I'm really glad I didn't hire a full-time person to do that,” Mendelsohn said.
Marketing and product split into two teams with one goal.
When Winters became Eventbrite’s CPO, a new org structure came along with him. Marketing and product divided into separate — but aligned — teams.
“Even though we're across different org structures,” Winters said, “we've really built this cross-functional team concept where we share the same goals.”
“We've really built this cross-functional team concept where we share the same goals.”
One core goal: bringing in event creators. Each side of the organization contributes in a different way.
What does the marketing team do?
Put simply, “marketing owns the creative,” Mendelsohn said. That team is divided into two groups, responsible for:
- Branding and design, which includes developing and testing creative visual assets
- Content and copy, and testing what messaging works
What does the product team do?
Growth marketers own this channel, though product managers play a big role too. Growth marketer responsibilities include:
- Performance marketing across Facebook Ads, Google AdWords and other channels.
- SEO, which ranges from product optimizations to link-building
- Conversion rate optimization for blog content, landing pages and more
Testing is central to the teams’ management of that cross-functional work. “There's a really fast feedback loop with the team on what's working,” Mendelsohn added.
Growth marketers became product managers.
At Eventbrite, growth marketers weren’t always product managers — and that created inefficiencies.
Eventbrite is a self-service product, and its sign-up flow belongs to the product team.
Early on, if the marketing team wanted to make a change to the sign-up page, or test new messaging in the welcome email flow, they’d need to test that manually before contacting the product team to ask for implementation.
“That was the big challenge that we just sort of accepted and dealt with for many years,” Mendelsohn said.
But eventually, misalignments between marketing and product became too frustrating for growth marketers — who had ideas they couldn’t implement on their own.
After testing more communication between product and growth, Eventbrite handed growth marketers product management responsibility. That worked.
“The model that we have now solves for all of those problems,” Mendelsohn said. “There's a lot more fluidity within the team, and there's no risk of competing priorities.”
“There's a lot more fluidity within the team, and there's no risk of competing priorities.”
They hired based on individual impact — not unicorn-packed resumes.
Just because a job candidate has experience at the hottest, fastest-growing startups, that doesn’t mean they’ll bring that growth to you.
Mendelsohn and Winters have learned that lesson, so when they see a resume stuffed with hypergrowth startups, they ask two questions:
- Can you describe a program you launched that had a measurable impact on marketing’s success?
- How did you measure that impact? What was the measurement strategy you used?
These questions shouldn’t be hard for anyone good at their job to answer, Mendelsohn said.
“In order to really understand what to do as a marketer, they need to have figured out how to measure impact and how to understand the impact of the work that they did,” she added.
They put the brakes on pandemic burnout.
Mendelsohn and Winters have taken a growth marketing approach to preventing burnout on their teams during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We identified the problem: people are feeling more burned out,” Mendelsohn said. “They're not taking the time that they need to take care of themselves. So, what are some experiments we can run to see what moves the needle?”
"What are some experiments we can run to see what moves the needle?”
This approach included failed experiments, like blocking off a few hours for focused work time. The blocks were ignored, and meetings got scheduled anyway. But there have also been successful ones, like a monthly mental wellness day where the entire company takes the day off work.
“That’s something the team has really galvanized around to the point where we’ve decided to institute it permanently,” Mendelsohn said. “Now we’re using that moving forward.”
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