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Jeff Hardison is the head of product marketing and brand & content teams at Calendly. Prior to Calendly, he has directed product marketing at Clearbit, HP, and InVision (where he also was the head director of self-serve revenue growth). His current passion is helping product-led growth and enterprise-sales teams work better together within SaaS companies. 

Topics Jeff can cover:

- Why is product marketing a quickly growing discipline in SaaS companies?

- What are some product-marketing tips from managing a team to executing on programs?

- How can product-led companies grow revenue by adding sales teams without sacrificing their PLG culture?

- How can struggling startups grow early revenue (in addition to large companies, Jeff has led marketing for acquired, small startups)?

Connect with Jeff on Twitter and Linkedin

  • GN

    Gustavo Nunes

    8 days ago #

    Hey, Jeff. Thanks for joining the community for this event. I have two questions for you:

    1) What are some growth experiments/ channels that have worked surprisingly well for you? Are there any channels that you feel are undervalued -- especially with so many companies going digital after the pandemics?

    2) What is your biggest growth challenge at Calendly right now and how are you tackling it?

    • JH

      Jeff H

      3 days ago #

      Hi, Gustavo!

      1a) I like to drive behaviors my best customers do. Create a segment of your best customers (they’re buying, engaged, upgrading, and referring you). Find out what they all do (at InVision, we called this the Atomic Use Case). Perhaps it’s create an account, link their calendar, and schedule 20 meetings in one week. Research -- talk to them! -- why they do those things in that order with that passion. Now, go try to encourage similar people to do those things using email, in-app messaging, content -- you name it.

      1b) Use customer data to NOT market to certain people. For example, don’t social advertise people who have opened your email marketing about the same thing. Don’t offer the “talk to sales” enterprise hand-raiser demo request to tiny companies. 3) Folks talk about using third-party business data, but I still think it’s utilized very little -- even by paying customers -- in B2B marketing. Talk to Cameron and Will over at Clearbit about Clearbit Advertising. Imagine shoving all kinds of info about your target B2B buyers into Facebook so that you can reach them with precision. That’s the tip of the iceberg.

      2) At Calendly, we’ve been blessed with millions of customers of all types -- from my yoga teachers to my plumber to my brother to a salesperson trying to set up a demo with me. And it’s pretty much the beauty of the product and its well-thought-out simplicity that’s created this flywheel. Now, we’re going upmarket to work with large companies with specific IT and admin needs, so we just launched Calendly for Enterprise for much larger companies needing things like SAML-based single-sign-on, SCIM, admin controls, and more. No matter how well you have product-led growth nailed, hiring and training salespeople to help huge customers think through these issues is the next superpower for all modern-day SaaS companies. Helping a PLG company go upmarket is my new passion.

  • PC

    Pedro Clivati

    8 days ago #

    Hey, Jeff - thank you for doing this.
    You have an incredible tracking recording, working with some of my fav products and companies so.. congrats on that.
    Most of them have this self-service sales approach in common and a lot of product marketing, so I'm guessing your work has a lot of intersection with other areas of the company (product development, sales, customer service). My question is how do you ensure that this cross-functional dynamic works smoothly and gain company-wide collaboration into your initiatives?

    • JH

      Jeff H

      3 days ago #

      Thanks, Pedro!

      Yes, that’s precisely where a lot of the work is when you're a PLG company growing beyond 200 employees: How do you get all of these disparate teams -- who don’t always get along well -- to work together for the growth of the company? One of the bosses I’ve learned the most from at two companies, Manav Khurana, used to say something along the lines of “Nearly any marketer can get a tiny startup to take off. But the real, hard work is motivating hundreds of people to help a larger company change and grow.” Given I have some wins in helping tiny startups grow and get acquired, at first I questioned this idea. But the more I thought about it I realized it was a shortcoming I needed to work on. How do I let go of my ego to do the right thing by hundreds of other employees in all kinds of departments: product, sales, customer success, operations, etc.?

      Therefore, I think the first step is to let go of your ego and have empathy for others in your company. Why is product management upset with sales? Why is sales upset with product? Why is marketing feeling disconnected from everyone? These are messy interpersonal dynamics happening in every product-led growth company that’s quickly growing. With empathy, you can now ask others to have empathy for the departments they’re wrestling with. Product marketing, when done correctly, is the department of empathy. Empathy for customers and empathy for your coworkers.

  • AF

    Andrew from Bookmark

    8 days ago #

    Hey Jeff, quick question.

    What are some marketing strategies you and the team at Calendly used on social media to grow your product? Also, did you find them to be more or less successful in some ways than traditional marketing strategies?

    All the best from the team at Bookmark.com.

    • JH

      Jeff H

      3 days ago #

      Hi, Andrew. We’re fortunate: Many of Calendy’s millions of customers talk on social media about Calendly by themselves -- without urging. Go to search.twitter.com and search for “I love Calendly” and you’ll see a wide selection of people talking. Calendly customers are pretty independently minded, so I think it’d be difficult to “strategize” them into talking on social. We’re very lucky to have them talking on their own.

      That said, one of my favorite “growth hacks” is actually quite old: listen to customers. I like to watch all of the tweets about Calendly each day and try to determine where the trends are. Which problems are they having that we've already created a feature for? This helps me see where the education gaps are. Which feature requests do they have that aren't on the roadmap? I can package 10 of the same request up for customer-development insights.

      I’m actually on Twitter regularly responding to questions from customers with GIFs I’ve created and Help Articles I dig up. It allows me to feel the pain of the customer and experiment with ways to address that pain that we can try to scale and automate later.

  • George ©️hilton

    8 days ago #

    Pricing seems to have been taken away from the marketing department. How can in-house and agency marketers re-establish their influence and take back responsibility for product or service pricing?

    • JH

      Jeff H

      3 days ago #

      Hi, George. As a fan of pricing work, I love this question. Well, good news is, I think pricing is coming back to the marketing department. Don’t know about everyone else, but I’ve been involved with 3X the pricing projects in the last five years than I had in the previous five. I think one thing that is spurring this return to having marketing handle pricing is that SaaS employees are better "schooled" than in other time periods, and the textbooks say that (product) marketing owns Product, Price, Place, Promotion. So, people leave business school or wherever, join a SaaS company, have a pricing project, and ask “Doesn’t marketing own this?” And when someone doesn’t know who in marketing owns something, who do they turn to? Product marketing. Second, old-school software pricing was largely determined by whatever Sales wanted to charge (which was variable). Now, our product-led growth pricing is public on the website. To get that right, we need to do research so that we're not constantly changing pricing that's public. Who should be eager to help with pricing research when everyone else is busy with other research? Marketing.

      If you want to be more involved in pricing, my recommendation is to voluntarily do research. Research competitor’s pricing and report back. Interview 10 customers and non-customers about your pricing on video and report back with snippets of the customer video interviews in a spreadsheet.

  • NM

    Nick Marcatelli

    7 days ago #

    hi Jeff, thanks for taking my question(s): how much do you think Organic Search and SEO are important for user acquisitions, both in general and specifically for Calendly?

    • JH

      Jeff H

      3 days ago #

      I know this sounds trite -- “build it and they will come" -- but Calendly’s product IS the No. 1 acquisition tool for the company. Hands-down. That said, the early marketing team at Calendly did an excellent job of creating content that scores really well for search terms we really care about. Trying various searches with the word "scheduling" and you'll see our content perform quite well.

      One of the things that keeps me up at night isn’t SEO for user acquisition, but instead SEO for current user activation. Let’s say you are a customer and you're struggling to find a feature that addresses your issue. You Google “Adding Times to Email with Calendly." What shows up? Hopefully, a current and accurate help article or something. Not some outdated third-party advice from three years ago or whatever. I want existing customers to have a great searching experience too.

  • CH

    Chris Harget

    7 days ago #

    How do you efficiently hunt for prospects when there's no standard buyer job title for your new technology?

    • JH

      Jeff H

      3 days ago #

      Hi, Chris. Let's say your product is a translation-software service. All kinds of people in many different companies can use that, right? But let's say that you have only 10 customers. One of the things I like to do in that early-growth situation is study our existing customers who are happy and engaged (according to customer-data analysis). If you find more than one customer with the same job title or industry, interview them. Why are they both using your service? For what? What benefit do they get even if it's anecdotal? Go tell that story. Happy customers -- even two -- beget happy customers.

  • JL

    Julien Le Coupanec

    6 days ago #

    Hey Jeff.

    1/ How can I encourage people to book a discovery demo with Calendly when they register on my platform. I close people I would not have closed without a demo.

    2/ I increased this ratio by illustrating the calendly widget on my website. Don’t know if it is related but people seems to book more demos. You can take a look here :) https://www.prospectwith.com/

    • JH

      Jeff H

      3 days ago #

      Hi, Julien. I love that you're adding Calendly to your website! I think some of our most successful customers either add Calendly to their website or to their emails. Great work!

  • AT

    Andres Torres

    6 days ago #

    Hey Jeff,
    I have just a couple of questions for you:

    1. How is Calendly approaching the task of personalization of user’s experience, and what have been the biggest challenges in that space?

    2. What data are you using and how are you using it to discover actionable insights?

    Thank you!

    • JH

      Jeff H

      3 days ago #

      Hi, Andres. I think customer data platforms (e.g., Lytics) are essential for personalization, so I'll talk about them.

      What I like about customer data platforms is they focus on using first-party data -- data your company already owns about a customer such as your marketing-site usage data, email marketing clicks, CRM purchase history, etc. -- to enable you to personalize not only marketing, but also user experience. Atlassian, for example, used Lytics to personalize customers' experiences in their SaaS products.

      Imagine using machine learning to automatically notice which employee in a customer account is the most engaged user, and then giving that user -- out of dozens at that account -- a different experience than the admin who purchased the product? That's the kind of automated personalization I like.

  • GK

    Gosia Kieszkowska

    5 days ago #

    Hi Jeff,

    What do you think about referral programs as a way to grow revenue? How would you recommend starting such a program to maximize its chances for success?

    Thank you!

    • JH

      Jeff H

      3 days ago #

      For me, I really weigh each client individually before proposing a referral program. Some go really well, and some, well, you learn you should spend your time elsewhere. One of the things I recommend doing is "things that don't scale" such as reaching out to your ICP (ideal customer profile) accounts and manually seeing if they'd be interested in referring you business. Do that with 10 ICP customers and measure the results before you ask engineering to build something that automates the referral process.

  • RF

    Robert Ferguson

    5 days ago #

    Hello there Jeff, I have a question for you. As technologies continue to emerge, what are the things a marketer should consider before showing the product to the public?

    • JH

      Jeff H

      3 days ago #

      Hi, Robert. This is a big question! Here's a short answer: I recommend finding 10 - 20 companies that you can demo your product to privately. Get their feedback. See if they'd be willing to test your product over a period of months and give you more feedback that you'll use to further develop the product. Do this before you go "public" with the product to give yourself more peace of mind.

  • DS

    Dmitry Sergeev

    5 days ago #

    Jeff, thanks for doing this.
    What would be your TOP marketing strategy hacks for SaaS startups with consulting element in Enterprise/TOP SMB segments?

    thanks a lot!!

  • DS

    Dmitry Sergeev

    5 days ago #

    Jeff, this is the second question from Dmitry :)
    How the digital marketing landscape will be impacted in 2022, when third-party cookies will not be supported in most major browsers on the Internet. But marketers will still need consent to use the tracking technologies?

    thank you!

    • JH

      Jeff H

      3 days ago #

      Hi, Dmitry. As I mentioned earlier in a different post, we're lucky that we still have first-party data -- data that we own about customers such as how they interact with our website, email marketing, etc. No matter what happens with third-party data, we can still use this first-party data to personalize experiences for our customers.

  • SE

    Seek Ex

    4 days ago #

    What would be the biggest growth challenge in a startup ?

    • JH

      Jeff H

      3 days ago #

      Hi, Seek Ex. I think it really depends on the startup!

      However, after consulting with dozens of startups, I'd say the main challenge startup founders have is overthinking things.

      Hundreds of successful starts have kickstarted growth by identifying a pain, creating a product to solve it, and then asking some companies to try the product and give them feedback. And then those founders make sure to quickly implement that feedback -- particularly if more than two companies suggest it. Next, they tell those testers' success stories to the world to attract more customers. Sounds so easy, but egos and fear get in the way of implementing such a tried-and-true growth strategy.

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