Micha Hershman: Q&A Session

Q&A Session: Micha Hershman

The Micha Hershman Q&A Session is happening on Tuesday 7th of June 2016 at 8AM PST (11AM-12PM EST)

Student of Leadership and Management. Content, Inbound, Demand Generation, Marketing Operations, Brand Positioning & Social Media Strategist . ENTJ.
Nerd media omnivore in love with pop-art, comics, Sci Fi and movies. Punk rocker. Adventurer. Krav Maga practitioner. Lifelong vegetarian and foodie.
Sr. Director of Inbound Marketing and Demand Generation at Eventbrite.
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Micha Hershman – Senior Director of Demand Generation and Inbound Marketing at EventbriteTranscript

Micha Hershman is the Senior Director of Demand Generation and Inbound Marketing at Eventbrite.

The Q&A Session with Micha was held on June 7th, 2016. This transcript has been edited for punctuation, grammar, etc.

AAAAAAAlright people, let’s give a warm welcome to Micha Hershman of Eventbrite, here to answer anything you got. Let ‘er rip!

Good to be here, among the GENIUSES!!!!

What do you think is the biggest mistake marketers make when planning/promoting an event?

Great question! I think the biggest mistake marketers make when planning/promoting an event is in lead time. That is to say, not giving yourself enough time to id your objectives, build a strategy and a tactical calendar. It can be tough when you’re running four events a month. Without a solid plan, you’re more likely to crumble when sh*t hits the fan. That’s true for event marketing, digital marketing, etc.

When you guys sponsored events when you were trying to setup new markets, what rules did you follow where number of invites results in number of attendees?

Great question! I apologize, but I’ve been at Eventbrite for just over a year and can’t speak with specificity to what the founders did when they were bootstrapping.

Hey Micha, can you please tell – what technology stack did you use to build such a good platform what was the evolution of tech stack and did you try to outsource some parts of the system?

The tech stack we’ve built is complex. I can speak with authority to our demand gen/inbound marketing/markops stack (as it sits on my team).Salesforce + Marketo are the big guns. Infer and in-house solutions for predictive analytics. Much more to say on the subject when we have some time.

What is your position in Eventbrite, and what are the top three tasks in your day-to-day?

I oversee demand generation, inbound marketing and content. It’s about a 14-person full-time team, plus a handful of agencies and contractors. My top 3 tasks – 1) support and develop my team 2) build strategic plans 3) connect the dots between people and functions.

Is there a dev team dedicated to building your marketing stack vs the site in general, or do you just pull them when needed?

We have dev support from engineering and ops. Where they can’t keep up with our velocity (and that’s FAST!) we use approved, outside contractors.

As a manager of 14 people + agencies/etc., how do you keep on top of it all without working 80-hr weeks? Or is that the secret? 😉

I work 55-60 hours every week.I’m a GTD guy and live by the rules outlined in that book. I also swear by Death By Meeting to keep the team and myself running at 110 miles an hour in our meetings.

Inbound marketing specifically being? What does Eventbrite or your 14-person-team mainly focus on – organic vs paid online marketing? Or is it a mixture?

My team supports both organic and paid. We’d say that we support the long tail (self-service) and high value (sales customers). Our primary focus is acquiring, nurturing and converting high value prospects, regardless of channel.

Do you analyze cost per acquisition/sale/lead? Cost per conversion?

Regarding CPA / CPL, we do manage to it carefully…particularly our paid media team.

What resources would you recommend for demand generation?

Good, big question! The resources I’d cite for demand generation are more categorical than they are specific. At least to start: CRM + email + blog/resources + social + paid media. That covers 95% of our needs.

Does your team use Eventbrite for internal meetings?

Nope – too many meetings, too many of us 😉

We use Google.

Do you leverage UGC in your organic and/or paid strategies?

We’re exploring UGC, but as our focus is on acquiring high value prospects, it’s not a priority. These are pros with big budgets and are less long-tail / consumer oriented. Our consumer team gets a little closer to UGC than we do.

Do you find being accurate with your marketing statements is a hallmark of your campaigns? Kind of like a first impression type of thing?

We focus on accuracy and reflecting our brand very, very carefully. That’s primarily through providing content with REAL value to our prospects – no hard sell at first.

Do you believe content is king or design is king (having a concrete CTA on an online sales page with tested UI/UX to get said CTA)?

It’s a hot topic of debate for us. Starts with KILLER, valuable content. Then we decide if it’s tier 1 (needing a ton of design support) or tier 2 (something we can knock together ourselves). We also go outside our design team to agencies for extended, specialized support on video and infographics, etc.

What up and coming platforms do you see Eventbrite investing in? Will Snapchat be a big part of your marketing mix?

We’re always, always, always bringing on new tech and exploring new channels. Three meetings a week to explore. Snapchat is interesting, but not super clear how we’d use it to acquire, nurture or convert high value event organizers yet. We’re very interested in developments in the social, retargeting and predictive analytics/content space.

Do you have legal reviews of your marketing before it goes out? Or just fly with it?

We get legal and product marketing involved when we are making claims about our product. Most of our efforts are customer focused, helping them try to find solutions to common problems. For that, all content gets approved by our managing editor, myself and sometimes our CMO.

What’s the best paid channel that’s converting for you? Facebook FTW?

Tough one to answer. We’re constantly testing channels – right now we’re focused on driving engagement (read: clicks) to our content. LinkedIn is turning out to be a big winner there with Twitter and Facebook right behind it.

What are some of the most memorable events for you? Will Eventbrite segment into other aspects of events?

Tough one to answer! Memorable events tend to be the big, buzzy ones with lots of $$ associated. Personally, I dig that Eventbrite supports the full range – from massive summer music festivals to off the wall San Francisco arts events. PianoFight, here in SF, is a very cool, left of center venue that has some great programming on its three stages. I dig what they do…

How do you promote content on LinkedIn? Do you post to groups?

We do lots of organic and some paid posting on LinkedIn. We think there is tremendous upside in the organic, community discussions and are exploring that. Personally, I’m very active in those spaces and do what I can to make sure our best pieces are reflected in the groups I engage with.

What is your team’s background? Do you look for hiring people with SEO/SEM/inbound experience? Do you have any “managers” who have never actually marketed a product inbound?

I’m very proud of the fact that my team’s background is diverse and cross-functional: liberal arts degrees, broad marketing experience, lots of technology, critical thinkers and GREAT WRITERS – whether that’s a blog post or a strategy overview.We do have inbound/SEM/SEO experience, and we do hire for it – tends to come from small startups or SMB roles where they “had to do it all.” I’m looking for well-rounded, scrappy entrepreneurs who can communicate well and get sh*t done…regardless of the challenge.

What do you think of the Jobs to Be Done methodology vs Customer Personas etc.?

I don’t know the JtBD methodology well. I can speak to personas and say we utilize them, but don’t constrain ourselves entirely by them. We aim at a persona and tweak based on (nearly) real-time results.

Do you tend to find that your larger clients come from LinkedIn while smaller self-serve clients come from Facebook?

You’d think, but it’s not black and white. Our larger customers tend to be looking for solutions online (inbound) where our smaller customers tend to come from seasonal lead gen (outbound).

Follow up on LinkedIn as an acquisition channel. Are you running ads? If yes, what types? Or are you using it to target specific people via sales?

We do run ads, as well as share organic content. Our BDRs and AEs leverage sales navigator as a comms channel (especially when email doesn’t work).

Do you track if a large client is slowing down event creation? (Do you have alarm bells if a large accounts performance goes down?)

Our account management team is badass and does a great job of being hands on, service oriented for our largest customers. We’re not as sophisticated as we want to be on automation and alerts, but we do have solid fundamental programs in place. We also leverage these people and tools to ensure we do outreach to our best customers before their contracts expire, to ensure a high renewal rate.

What’s your process for nurturing larger clients?

My team is focused on automation. We 1) capture the prospect’s information 2) assess their volume/value 3) route them into multichannel nurture paths that have been hand-tooled for high value customers in their vertical. Meanwhile, we’re hitting them with content in the social channels they live and retargeting them with content relative to their pain point, everywhere they go on the web.Once they have “raised a hand” by engaging with our content, we route them quickly to strategic BDRs by vertical for human 1:1.

Do you have a concentrated marketing team for onboarding and retaining customers? Or is this a priority shared by the other marketers on your team?

Yep! We sure do! Two acquisition teams, one onboarding team and two retention teams.My team touches all that, but our focus is really on how we build content into technology frameworks that drive and measure behavior.

So, by “your focus,” you mean your team is the one that creates content, and the marketing operations to measure the effectiveness of that?

Pretty much. My team is broken into three sub-teams – 1) content strategy and production, 2) demand generation / campaign deployment, 3) marketing operations.

How do you find a balance between onboarding via email and in-app tours/notifications?

GREAT question and a delicate balance. My team focuses on lead gen, lead capture, nurture and conversion of prospects. Onboarding is technically managed by a different team (as they are customers at that point). We work very closely with that team to share content, prospect data, storytelling threads, etc.

You must have a huge amount of data from event registrations/account creations – what are your top priorities with that data?

BINGO! We are a marketplace (supply and demand) and have truly unique access to data about millions and millions of events. Our capacity to leverage this is one of the keys to our growth and ability to make our customers happy!

How does Eventbrite manage internal knowledge / new processes? Do you use an internal wiki, for instance?

Yep! We do have an internal wiki, google docs, CMS systems and – best of all – well run standups, staff meetings and strategic planning sessions. Our culture is pretty seriously devoted to learning and growth. We ‘ve got a deep commitment to onboarding, training and opportunities to learn. That’s thanks to our CEO, who’s been focused on it for years… It’s transformative for your team AND has a powerful impact on reducing churn and associated costs… Easier said than done, though…

Do you have programmers assigned to your department, or do you have to make a ticket for features you want, and devs jump on as prioritized?

ENG resources are the most precious thing of all. We do have a small team focused on supporting organizer acquisition, but it tends to be product-focused development. We use a ticketing system and some great personal relationships to move most of our marketing projects along. That said, a big focus of acquiring new tech is ensuring that we (marketing) can deploy and support it without much help.We do also use contractors, when we can’t get what we need. It’s move fast, or die, you know…

What are some of your fav marketing tools?

I’m digging Infer for predictive analytics, Hello Bar for configurable, Word Press promotional power, Crazy Egg for web optimization, and BuzzSumo to figure out what content our competitors are producing that’s resonating with prospects.

Weirdest reason you’ve seen someone get fired from Eventbrite?

LOL. Not sure HR would want me talking about that… Actually, no weird reasons. Sorry for the totally boring answer! I thought back on my career and can’t think of many – firing decisions tend to be pretty good ones.

Do you currently have a plan to offer a more branded/white label event planning or registration solution?

I’d be remiss speaking to this, as it’s 1) not my area of expertise and 2) probably something super-secret! My apologies!

What has been the most successful re-engagement campaign(s) you’ve run?

We’re doing a campaign now that’s pretty cool: 1) clean up the database 2) augment with additional firmographic data 3) segment carefully by sub-vertical 4) ship our best performing content via email 5) serve non-openers & non-engaged leads content via retargeting 6) hand off signs of life to our BDR team. It’s not sexy, but it’s strategic, data-driven and ruthlessly efficient.

Do you find your classic evergreen content pieces to give you more leads than fresh newsy pieces?

GREAT question. We do tend to see more engagement with our recent work…because it’s better and we’re promoting it heavily. That said, our evergreen, decision-stage content just ROCKS, week in, week out…with zero promotion.

Will you come back to Online Geniuses, or was this just to promote Eventbrite?

I’ll be around! For me, this is more about talking about fun stuff like tech, content and business process. And a little personal branding in there…

Parting words of advice: take the time to articulate a plan – even a one pager – before you get to work. It’s worth the time to get strategic!!!!

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