Jameelah Calhoun

Jameelah CalhounShare

Global Head of Product Marketing, Eventbrite
Jameelah Calhoun currently serves as the Global Head of Product Marketing at Eventbrite, where she drives go-to-market and monetization efforts to launch new product experiences for both event crea...more
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Jameelah Calhoun
Jameelah Calhoun
Global Head of Product Marketing, Eventbrite | Formerly Amazon, Ex-AmexFebruary 8

The first 90 days are crucial to any job, but especially for new product marketing leaders. This is the time to establish your credibility, build relationships, and layout team roles that will set your function up for success for the months to come. Here’s how I break down my priorities by month:

First 30 days – Assess the current state and product roadmap

Look at my response below regarding the 3 prior deliverables that I review when joining a new company. But, in general, here the goal is to understand what the immediate internal pain points are. Start with looking at what audience research exists, reviewing existing customer messaging and landing pages, and understanding the acquisition funnel. You should also use this time to become intimately familiar with the product roadmap. From here, you should be able to identify some quick wins as well as some areas for strategic, step-change impact. Lastly, use your newness to inquire about current roles and responsibilities of product marketing and stakeholders’ thoughts on how that could evolve. This provides important intel for influencing RACIs down the line and identifying which people or functions may be aligned with your vision.

30-60 Days – Begin Establishing Processes and Adding Value

From your first 30 days, you should already have a sense of where some acute pain points from an external positioning and internal operations perspective. This period is now focused on showing value by getting in some quick wins. This could entail a quick messaging refresh, establishing a GTM tiering framework for different product releases, and/or some sales enablement collateral. This will be critical for gaining credibility and winning partnerships with other teams.

60-90 Days

By this time, you should be ready to roll out your team charter and RACI. Results come first from the quick wins, but you don’t want to wait too long to get your working model and flows aligned. This is the time to start to communicate your larger vision for product marketing. This step should likely come in 30-60 days if you are at a larger organization. But at a startup focusing on delivery in less controversial areas wholly owned by PMM first will set the right tone. Additionally, here’s where I would kick off a larger strategic initiative or big bet for your team, such as a revamp of the customer segmentation or a new market entry strategy.

Jameelah Calhoun
Jameelah Calhoun
Global Head of Product Marketing, Eventbrite | Formerly Amazon, Ex-AmexFebruary 8

Organization structures for the PMM team vary depending on your companies’ stage, customer base, and product suite. There are 4 basic approaches for designing PMM teams: 1) functional (i.e. sales enablement, monetization, GTM, product strategy), 2) product lines (i.e. subscriptions, retail), 3) customer segments (i.e. enterprise, small business, consumer), or 4) Lifecycle (i.e. acquisition, engagement, retention.)

When determining a new PMM team org structure, I think about these 3 questions:

1) What drives distinction in the sales/conversion cycle? For some companies that will be customer-based, such as selling to enterprise clients versus small business or business versus consumer for marketplaces. For others, the product drives the most distinction, such as a consumer subscription service versus consumer a la carte/retail. For other companies with smaller product suites and a less complex client base, it may be best to align against areas of the funnel (i.e. acquisition, engagement, retention). Lastly, depending on the functional areas that PMM teams are responsible for it may make sense to organize against these areas to recruit for specific skill sets.

2) What domain knowledge will be most important to develop and maintain within the team? Which team members will benefit most from collaboration? This again is often tied to the answer in question one. Sometimes deep expertise on one customer segment will be critical relative to deep expertise on one specific product or vice versa.

3) How are your stakeholder teams organized? Aligning closely with product management teams will smooth the team’s ability to become trusted and consistent partners with that team.

As PMM organizations become larger and more complex, I have often combined two of the organizational approaches for maximum impact. For example, organizing my PMM teams by product lines, but having dedicated functional PMM roles underneath each product line team.

Jameelah Calhoun
Jameelah Calhoun
Global Head of Product Marketing, Eventbrite | Formerly Amazon, Ex-AmexMarch 9

Segmentations and personas both have a role to play in informing product strategy and targeting for marketing.

Defining segments is more of quantitative exercise with a primary goal of optimizing your business and operating model. Typically, I couple an external prospect survey with internal data on how existing customers interact with your product. You're looking for attributes that are correlated with customer outcomes and behaviors. Some key dimensions for segmentation include purchase behaviors, customer barriers to entry (i.e. switching costs), demographics, and jobs to be done. Note that most companies will have multiple segmentations to drive different business decisions, such as retention segmentations identifying high attrition risk segments versus market segmentations which are focus on prioritizing who is your addressable market.

Defining personas tends to be more of qualitative exercise leveraging focus groups and customer interviews. In this case, some of the important dimensions can include lifestyle, attitudes, and motivations that humanizes the segment(s) you are trying to reach. These help inform marketing messaging, creative, and tone that ensures your company can connect with real human beings versus statistics.

Jameelah Calhoun
Jameelah Calhoun
Global Head of Product Marketing, Eventbrite | Formerly Amazon, Ex-AmexMarch 8

Customer insights are the bedrock of any product marketing function. There are 4 key steps when planning research: 1) knowing your objectives, 2) establishing your hypotheses, 3) discerning which methodology will deliver the right inputs to drive your decisions, and 4) articulating the 'so what'. 

1) Establish your top 2 learning objectives for the exercise. It may be helpful to gather input from key stakeholders on how this study may inform their function. For example, you may be looking to determine the dimensions on which a customer segment evaluates product quality and the segment's willingness to pay. You are likely to find out more than 2 insights while executing research, but it is important to focus your questions and methods on solving a couple of larger objectives. 

2) Synthesize any existing relevant customer research, external papers, and internal customer behavior analysis that can help you establish a baseline on what is understood about your research question today. Use this information to write out your hypotheses. This is an important check to ensure that your selected methodology can actually prove or disprove your hypothesis. 

3) There are many market research tools that product marketers can leverage, ranging from qualitative to quantitative. I have used everything from large sample quantitative surveys to simply having conversations with friends and family. In general, I find that quantitative methodologies like surveys are great for establishing systematic drivers of purchase behavior and customer use cases. Qualitative studies like focus groups provide insight into nuanced elements such as customers' emotional connection to products or their reaction to the tone of messaging or testing new concepts. Once you pick a method, it's time to execute.

4) Articulate your findings with the following: 1) consumer insight, 2) how it changes product or GTM strategy decisions, and 3) further questions that have been raised. It is not a bad outcome to surface new customer questions or dimensions coming out of the research. It usually means you are heading down the right path to uncover something really compelling. 

Jameelah Calhoun
Jameelah Calhoun
Global Head of Product Marketing, Eventbrite | Formerly Amazon, Ex-AmexMarch 9

Thanks for this awesome question! The great news is that there are many pathways and many skillsets that can lead to a successful career in product marketing. In my case, I started my career as a financial analyst and consultant. These skills have been invaluable for me as product marketing requires you to quickly understand large customer data sets and distill insights as well as being able to think strategically about short term and long term market trends. As I've gone deeper into product management and marketing, this fundamental training has still served me well. This is all to say focus on the transferable skills that you want to develop in your career trajectory to get into product marketing or that you want to demonstrate in your interviews for a product marketing role.

For product marketing, here's what I emphasize:

* Customer empathy and insights

* Synthesizing data into action steps

* Communication and influencing 

* Project management

* Building business cases

Additionally, product marketers thrive on enthusiasm for products, ideas and communication. Come to your interviews prepared with ideas on how you would change their product and why. Conduct your own mini-market research exercise by asking friends and family who use the product for input. The interview is the first opportunity to put your product marketing hat on and show what you are can do. 

Good luck!

Jameelah Calhoun
Jameelah Calhoun
Global Head of Product Marketing, Eventbrite | Formerly Amazon, Ex-AmexMarch 9

I focus on creating a collaborative environment with market research, user research, and analytics teams as they provide critical inputs for product marketing to function. PMM owns defining the research objectives and the business questions, while the research and analytics teams are the subject matter experts on defining the specific methodologies and taking the lead on execution. There is of course input throughout from PMM, but we leverage the expertise of our research teams to ensure we get high quality results from our efforts. 

Jameelah Calhoun
Jameelah Calhoun
Global Head of Product Marketing, Eventbrite | Formerly Amazon, Ex-AmexMarch 9

Thanks for asking this question. The exercise of defining your competitive set is a critical, but at times under-emphasized aspect of conducting research. There are three primary modes for competitive research: 1) optimization, 2) growth and 3) exploration.

1) Optimization is the most narrow mode. This is meant to identify how you are positioned relative to direct competitors, who are in the same industry and product family as your company. This is where your win/loss interviews become important.
2) Growth mode is where you would look at direct and indirect competitors, who may share an industry, but are in a different product family or vice versa. The goal here is to understand how to expand your addressable market and seek product adjacencies.
3) Lastly exploration mode is the widest lens. Here I focus on the customer jobs to be done. Anything that enables the customer to achieve that job (the substitutes) can be informative on customer barriers to entry for the most difficult prospects to acquire and provide a source of ideas for exploration of new business verticals. These substitutes may be in the informal economy (such as borrowing from a friend or hitchhiking) depending on the industry that you are in.

All of these are important. Depending on where your company is in its growth cycle it may need a different balance of each. For example, very mature companies may focus on exploration and growth mode, while new entrants may focus primarily on optimization and growth.

Jameelah Calhoun
Jameelah Calhoun
Global Head of Product Marketing, Eventbrite | Formerly Amazon, Ex-AmexFebruary 8

As I mentioned in the question regarding your first 90 days, the first 30 days are all about establishing a baseline and assessing the current product marketing status. The first 3 things that I look for when onboarding are:

1) Audience strategy and research. Here I want to understand what’s known about the customer and their jobs-to-be-done. Specifically, personas and segmentation as well as any research related to acquisition and why customers purchase the product. This may also include any prior win/loss interviews and doing your own quick interviews with sales.

2) Current messaging. Look at as much of the customer-facing messaging as possible. This includes highly trafficked landing pages, sales collateral, recent campaigns, and messaging hierarchy templates.

3) Funnel and Lifecycle Performance Data. Here I am looking to understand what the major drop-off points are and the shape of the customer lifecycle. This helps identify areas for potential quick wins and gives you an early perspective on the typical sales or conversion cycle.

Jameelah Calhoun
Jameelah Calhoun
Global Head of Product Marketing, Eventbrite | Formerly Amazon, Ex-AmexFebruary 8

Simple is always better when bringing stakeholders on the journey for a product launch. I typically structure my presentations around the What? When? Who? Why? How? and Where? in that order. This framework is straightforward but covers the most critical questions that matter for the launch. Additionally, this approach can apply to a 1-pager and a 30 slide deck.

What? - What is launching? What is the monetization strategy/price points?

When? - What is the release timeline? What are the phases of the GTM?

Who? - Who is the target audience? Who are the priority segments?

Why? - Why will they love it? What is the conversion thesis?

How? - How will this be positioned? What are the messaging pillars?

Where? - What channels will be essential to reach the target audience? What are the entry points to the acquisition funnel?

Jameelah Calhoun
Jameelah Calhoun
Global Head of Product Marketing, Eventbrite | Formerly Amazon, Ex-AmexMarch 9

Your leadership will be focused on the ROI of the budget and time spent developing personas. The most salient metric for these exercises will be customer acquisition costs. I would look at trends in customer acquisition costs over time, across segments, and across channels. This helps illuminate where there are pockets of inefficiency. On the qualitative side, it can also be valuable to gather sentiment from your customer-facing teams (i.e. sales and customer service) on how the lack of personalization and clarity of their target segments has increased complexity for their roles. Lastly, it can be helpful to pilot personas after a small study. At the beginning, you may try developing just one or two personas for a very clear target and adapt your marketing and scripts accordingly as an a/b test. This can yield some initial data to support the value that a broader, more rigorous exercise would bring to your organization. 

Credentials & Highlights
Global Head of Product Marketing at Eventbrite
Formerly Amazon, Ex-Amex
Top Product Marketing Mentor List
Product Marketing AMA Contributor
Lives In New York, NY
Knows About Consumer Product Marketing, Competitive Positioning, Product Launches, Enterprise Pro...more