One of the insightful things that has been said to me recently came from an independent consultant working at a major FMCG client. He said: “The problem here is that we have some people who are world-class at marketing to the masses, but they haven’t got a clue about how to speak to a customer.”
Customer centricity comes down to your people, organisational culture, and your ability to delight customers through innovation and service, the co-founders of Eventbrite claim.
According to Kevin and Julia Hartz, the online event registration company’s success to date has been derived from hiring people with the right mindset, who understand inherently what the success of the company is in the eye of our customer.
“Customer centricity is part of our culture – it’s ingrained in everything we do and comes from our early DNA,” Julia told CMO. “I now understand how potent and important that is. When you start a company, the things you choose to focus on will really present themselves years later.”
Kevin added Eventbrite takes its inspiration and go-to market strategy from Zappos and Amazon, “which put the customer first and everything else second”.
“An important component of marketing is around delighting your current customers. Because of the nature of the connected social world, your customers are going to speaking very publicly and broadly about you,” he pointed out. “Taking care of your customers and investing in customer centric initiatives is really the best marketing a brand can do.”
Kevin and Julia Hartz were in Australia this week to officially launch Eventbrite’s new office in Melbourne. The decision to set-up shop locally reflects both the substantial organic growth being experienced in Australia, as well as the company’s ambitious global expansion efforts.
Eventbrite has supported more than 75,000 events in Australia to date, 53 per cent of which were posted during 2013. It has also processed 3 million tickets to Australian events, half of which ($40 million) occurred last year.
“Eventbrite has actually been global from day one because of the self-service nature of our platform, as well as our integration with PayPal, and we’ve seen this incredible organic growth in Australia,” Julia said. “It has always been on our radar, but we haven’t had the resources or strategy to be able to come into the country and give it the love it deserves. That moment is now.”
Kevin said Australia represented 4 per cent of Eventbrite’s total business in the past year. The largest event categories are conferences, seminars, sales and music-related events, while the fastest growing areas include sports endurance events such as Tough Mudder, festivals and food-related events.
“It speaks to the robust and mature nature of the market, the nature of the culture, that we saw this grassroots adoption of the platform here,” Kevin claimed. “As a marketer, you go where the adoption is. When your customers tell you that there is this desire for adoption and it’s happening organically without spending the media dollars, it’s very exciting and a natural move for us.”
Eventbrite was founded in the US in 2006 and is based on a ‘freemium’ services model. It has processed more than $2 billion in gross ticket sales to date and raised $140 million in capital investment. This included a $60 million injection last September, which will help both international expansion efforts as well as build out services available through the platform.
One such feature is reserved seating, which launched in March and is available to organisers of any-sized event for free.
The company actively started investing in building an international footprint and operations since 2012. Julia said it is looking to hire sales, marketing and business development employees who can build the Australian business and broaden its audience reach.
The Australian office is about providing better service, which she claimed wasn’t always the strong suit of the historical ticketing industry. “We want to get on the ground and talk to customers and understand them,” she said. “We also want to help larger events to find the platform. So it’s all about focusing on the customers – the organisers and the consumers.”
It’s also about nurturing what is a highly localised business, Kevin said. “Events are inherently local… that’s an important aspect of what our local teams will be involved in.”
As well as international expansion, Eventbrite is investing in additional services to help end consumers find hyper-local events to participate in. Traditionally, the business concentrated on the event organisers, but has realised attendees are an increasingly vital part of the model, Julia said.
“We were just marketing Eventbrite as a platform to sell tickets to an event, but over time what happened was consumers started to come back to our sites to find things to do,” she said. “That has become a core part of our growth. Consumers want to find new live experiences, and we’re able to show them results based on what we know about them and then they buy more tickets to the event, and eventually become organisers. It’s a virtuous cycle that drives our growth.”
While many start-ups are inherently disruptive and customer centric, the challenge is how to retain that dynamic culture as they grow and scale internationally. Both Julia and Kevin welcomed the challenge.
“People have a lot of pre-conceived notions of what a company should do when they get bigger. My day job is to debunk those and make sure we stay true to how we are as we build this company,” Julia said. “It’s a great challenge but not impossible. There are companies that have done it – just look at Amazon.
“You must be really truthful about why your company has been successful. For Eventbrite, it’s part of the beginnings of a love brand. Our mission is to efficiently build a global market place that people love. It’s the headline that the entire company is working towards achieving. That love piece is as important as the efficiency, and those two are as important as what we’re building in the middle, which is this global market place.”
As a way of measuring customer centricity, Eventbrite has also recently adopted the Net Promoter Score system. “We used to only track it in organisers and quite passively, and now we’re tracking it in a much more aggressive way on consumers, organisers and our Britelings [employees],” Julia said.
“At the end of this year we will have some interesting trend data across everyone we serve and we’ll be able to glean a lot from that and use it as a directional point for us to ensure we’re doing what we said we were going to do.
“This is to create an engaging workplace with passionate people, to delight our organisers with innovation, and actually be of use to consumers when they are looking to find new experiences to attend.”