How Eventbrite’s Demand Generation Team Thinks Big, Drives Revenue, and Develops Careers
Eventbrite’s Demand Generation team is an ambitious, tight-knit squad. Within the company, they’re known as overachievers who beat their goals, plan months in advance, and have a comprehensive strategy deck for every decision they make. But if you ask the team what they’re proudest of, they invariably land on the same value: individual development.
In the last four years, the team — which does everything from content and events to account-based marketing and lead generation — has grown marketing’s pipeline contribution by more than 1000%, created three completely new-to-Eventbrite functions, and launched marketing programs in the Netherlands and Spain. All the while, they’ve kept laser-focused on career development opportunities for individual team members.
So how does this team keep their eye on the big picture and their individual career paths?
Fighting stagnation, pursuing “firsts”
Shalin Bhandari has excelled in multiple marketing roles during her four years at Eventbrite. First hired as a marketing operations specialist, she was promoted to marketing operations manager — and then switched roles entirely, becoming the company’s first-ever account-based marketer.
Shalin Bhandari prepares a direct mailer for an ABM program
“At every step in my career at Eventbrite, I’ve been the first one to do something,” she says. “There is always a need for someone to step up and take on a bigger challenge as the team has grown. Since there are so many needs on this team and so many challenges, I’ve been able to take those on myself.”
Chris Appelgren joined when Eventbrite acquired music ticketing powerhouse Ticketfly in 2017, and has already had front-row seats to many team “firsts.” Chris brought more than a decade of impressive marketing experience with him — which was quickly put into action.
“When I joined the Demand Generation team, I was immediately given the opportunity to launch a new program, creating an online educational course for event marketers,” says Chris. “Because this was the first time Eventbrite did this, I got to figure out the best functionality for it, create content, and determine the best way to own that.”
Chris Appelgren contemplates the future
While Chris’s deep marketing knowledge made him an immediately valuable contributor, he still finds the work engaging and challenging. “I feel in many ways I’m still learning, despite my past experience, because this team is so mature,” says Chris. “Still, I’m excited about the path I might take to build my plan and career on this team.”
Alyssa Torres started on the three-person marketing ops team three years ago, shifted to a role as a channel marketer, and joined Shalin on the account based marketing team this year. Exploring all of these roles allowed her to discover work she’s truly passionate about.
“We all spend time on things that we’re interested in, but that aren’t in our job description,” she explains. “Our leadership encourages everyone to look outside of what you’re doing, to see if you’re happy in your role or want to shift your focus. At certain points I’ve had my bosses come and say, ‘You’re excelling at this particular thing and you should concentrate on it more to see if it’s a focus you want to pursue.’”
Sheena Sharma, the team’s Director of Programs, agrees. “Eventbrite is at a size where if you have an interest in another area, you can put that in your career development plan and every door opens to you. No one is hesitant or resistant. There’s really a spirit of ‘This person wants to learn something, and we should help them with that.’”
Sheena has seen quite a bit of change through her two and a half years at Eventbrite. Under her leadership, the team added functions like email marketing, lead generation, and field marketing. Next, she’s taking on a new challenge: an entirely new team within Demand Generation, which will be focused on the team’s goals, overall strategy, and program management.
Sheena Sharma looks on while a teammate edits her contributions to an instructional video
“I’ve never worked in such an open-minded, collaborative environment,” says Sheena. “We really do have the support of our leadership, giving us opportunities to both move laterally and to be promoted.”
Starting early, thinking big
Micha Hershman was hired three years ago to lead the brand-new Demand Generation team. From the get-go, he knew he had to think big, and that growing his team has to start with the individuals within. That means encouraging them to think big about their own careers.
“Turnover is unpleasant and inefficient — I want to invest time developing individuals, not hiring,” says Micha. “So part of our strategy is definitely to hire people who can grow, and who believe in the values and mission of this organization — that means investing a lot in each other and making sure we’re doing what we can to make each other happy here.”
Rachel Grate exemplifies the kind of rapid-fire growth Micha looks for in his team. Rachel started as an intern at Eventbrite in 2014, and was hired after earning her degree in English the following year. In 2017, having developed her passion for editing into an impressive skill, she started managing the Eventbrite blog and their stable of English-language freelance writers. Next, she took on two ambitious new projects — working with teammates to launch a pilot of an educational program and a program for partner content marketing.
Madison Stein, Alyssa Torres, Josephine Wick, and Shalin Bhandari in a team storytelling workshop
“I’m on my third career development plan now,” she says. “It’s a really structured approach in which you have three conversations with your manager, focused on your one-year, three-year and five to ten-year plans. You discuss the skills or experiences you really need to make those next steps and then map out specific projects you can take on or activities you can do to get those skills and put deadlines on that.”
For Christy Huggins, who leads the team’s channel marketing function, thinking big meant shifting her work managing social media to expand along with the growth of the Demand Generation team.
“My role has really grown as this team has, I’ve built a social media strategy as the content we produce has changed,” she says. “Then it became about replicating that strategy all across the map, adapting what we’ve learned here in the U.S. market to the local markets and cultures. The speed at which the company has grown means that my role has demanded that I constantly think bigger about my role as we grow and expand as a company.”
Margaret Jones, who leads the team’s content marketing function, has had a similar journey. “My first challenge here was quality standards and consistency on our team in North America,” she explains. “Now that we’re thinking globally, all that work of building those practices and that infrastructure needs to be applied to international markets. That’s a whole new challenge, and it forces you to let go a little bit — if you aren’t fluent in the native language, how can you ensure quality without reading every word yourself? How do you create a global content marketing organization that’s efficient, without losing local relevance?” Big, difficult questions like that, Margaret says, keep her motivated and engaged with her role.
As Micha describes it, the future of the team depends on big thinking. “This year we scrapped a whole strategy and came up with a new one, growing from a team of 5 to 17. We integrated the functions of marketing, events, and a brand team…while fulfilling our mission and generating business for the sales team,” says Micha. “We used to be purely North America focused and now we have responsibility with markets in the Netherlands, Brazil, Australia, and Spain.”
Building closeness without claustrophobia
“One of our biggest strengths is the way we work together,” says Alyssa. “I’ve never been on a team where people were this close and work so well together. Because of that we all know what everyone’s working on and have each other’s backs. I know that if I need help, I can bounce ideas off of anyone — I don’t ever feel like a lone wolf.”
That closeness is intentional. “We bring in people who we see potential in — people who have demonstrated growth, and who we believe can keep growing,” says Micha.”You can’t set that strategy without people being willing to accept feedback. We emphasize communication here to the point that it’s not just that we want to hear your point of view, you are required to have a point of view and to share it.”
Rachel Grate, Heather Ezelle, Micha Hershman, and Madison Stein enjoy a classic Demand Gen ice cream break
Margaret appreciates the challenge to think beyond her role, and to develop skills she can use for the rest of her career. “When I think about how I’ve grown here, I think about the soft skills I’ve learned — like how important it is to learn how to give a good presentation, how to manage up, and how to show leadership. I’ve learned so much about how to empower the people I work with, how to nurture a constant feedback loop, and how to connect our work with Eventbrite’s growth.”
But it isn’t all structured feedback and alignment. “We genuinely enjoy spending time together,” says Micha. “It helps that the work itself is consistently challenging and interesting, but we also find time to break out of our routines together — not just for formal work offsites, but also to do fun, impromptu things as a team.”
Sheena Sharma and Dylan Fitzpatrick in front of their spray painted art at a team offsite
Sheena says that team bonding makes a big difference. “I spend a lot of time at work, and the reason I keep coming back is that we’ve built a team culture of compassion and fun,” she says. “It’s not that we’re out raging every night and best friends in off hours — but we do laugh a lot.”
That camaraderie has obvious benefits: the group communicates thoughtfully and constructively, conflicts are quickly surfaced and examined, and individual successes are credited to the whole team.
A team picnic (with casual sports) at Alamo Square Park in San Francisco
“When it comes to goals, we don’t track things by individual, we do it by team,” explains Rachel. “One person doesn’t need to get stressed out about their individual goal — if we’re behind, someone is always willing to step up. It isn’t just my project that I want to succeed, but our project, that we all want to succeed.”
Interested in joining the team? Apply here!
How Eventbrite's Demand Generation Team Thinks Big, Drives Revenue, and Develops Careers was originally published in Briteling Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.