SoftTech VC Roundtable: Tamara Mendelsohn, VP Marketing at Eventbrite

We’ve launched a speaker series at SoftTech VC for our portfolio company founders and executives. Over the next year, we’ll invite experts and friends to speak to an intimate audience about a wide variety of topics. While much of the content will be “off the record” to encourage open dialog, here’s a peek into our inaugural event featuring Tamara Mendelsohn, VP of Marketing at Eventbrite.

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Tamara Mendelsohn, VP Marketing at Eventbrite[/caption]

Not many marketers begin as a startup’s first marketing hire and go on to build and lead a 60+ person global marketing team over five years. Tamara broke the mold, joining Eventbrite after earning her MBA at MIT Sloan School of Management to focus on community and over time building out a cross-functional, cross-continent marketing organization. We were excited to pick her brain. Top of mind to the early stage founders and marketing leaders in the room was understanding how Tamara grew a marketing organization from scratch — beginning with what she did first when the possibilities were endless but the budgets were small. Here’s a summary of the three phased approach Tamara first used to clearly define Eventbrite’s positioning — one of the many lessons she shared.

Phase One — Building the Foundation
Define and developing your positioning in the market. Start by listing your own understanding of product positioning. Next, survey early customers with the following questions:

1) What do you love about the product?

2) Why did you initially use it?

3) What’s the greatest benefit you get today?

Segment and weigh responses differently, paying close attention to the users who are getting the most value from your current product. Then conduct interviews with at least 20–30 users. As you begin to hear the same messages over and over again from your users, use these to identify key themes and value propositions that resonate with your audience.

Phase Two — Test, Test, Test
Put into action the positioning you identified with a series of tests. For example, create three different messages with headlines and copy. Set up a series of tests with a small buy on Google or Facebook to see which messages performed best with your audience. Tamara ran a search campaign to test click-thru rates on ad copy that linked corresponding landing pages The core positioning that resonated best with Eventbrite’s early users was an “all-in-one solution” since in the early days they were primarily replacing manual processes that spanned email, excel, and offline.

Phase Three — Lean In to What Works
Finally, when you identify messaging and channels that work, lean in by putting resources towards these learnings. Put a budget in place and hire someone to run programs full time. Tamara not only identified Eventbrite’s core value propositions, she also uncovered the power of her customer’s voices. As a result, her first marketing hire was a writer to focus on content marketing and promoting customer’s stories on social media. Next, she brought on board a designer to do early work on the brand; a marketing-focused designer helped EventBrite maintain its brand identity in hyper-growth.

A HUGE thanks to Tamara for sharing this and many other practical lessons learned from the trenches of building Eventbrite’s marketing organization from the ground up.