Looking around at the demand generation efforts in the expo room at Dreamforce is a little like watching a catfight at a bar. Strangers stare as a group of loud, annoying ladies in glitzy outfits compete for attention. Most people are a little lost as they attempt to understand what’s going on. The argument, sparked by who knows what, always ends up concerning who looks better, or, if they can’t hear each other, they just battle over who is better at making loud cat noises (aka being loud and obnoxious).
Okay, maybe that’s not exactly like the Dreamforce expo scene. Still, I find that year after year, the room is becoming a tangled web of attention-hungry companies. Each one is desperately trying to stand out or somehow one-up the others. As entrepreneurs, we can all understand why.
In order to create demand for your business, you have to do something unique, flashy, valuable, new, or some mixture of all four. This is particularly true when the competition to be creative gets as fierce as it does at Dreamforce.
With all the ruckus, is it even possible to stand out anymore? Maybe you’re still on the fence about going/sponsoring, because you’re not sure it’s worth the money and you just don’t feel like getting in a catfight over the audience’s attention. Or maybe you’re desperately seeking a last minute strategy to ensure that you get some value out of your investment.
Well, below are five pieces of inspiration for you. Several are straight from top marketers who are sure to make a big splash at Dreamforce, and none of them are doing it by attempting to be the flashiest.
1. Random Acts of Kindness
Imagine you’re having a bad day. You didn’t wake up on time, you’re running late, hit traffic, and then your shoe breaks on the way in to a big meeting. You hobble into the nearest mall to grab something, ANYTHING, but you don’t see one option that isn’t fluorescent or outright ridiculous. Things aren’t going your way and you can’t wait for this day to be over. Then, out of nowhere, someone passes by and gives you a $5 bill.
This was an interesting strategy used by an enterprise company. Everyone in the company was wearing bright crimson red shirts (you couldn’t miss them). When they swung by they gave me a $5 bill. I didn’t have any information on them but it raised my curiosity. I wanted to find out which company it was.
When I found their booth near the end of the conference expo, I went to check them out. The random “act” of kindness got me to go over there. I sincerely wanted to learn more about what they did and how they positioned themselves in the industry.
Their mission truly supported the “serving the people” market. They showed their core values before I knew anything about the company, and that made me want to learn more.
What sort of “random act of kindness” could support or share your mission?
2. InsideView’s Demand Gen Strategy for Dreamforce
I had the pleasure of meeting Katie Vaudt a few weeks ago, and I took the opportunity to ask her about Insideview’s Dreamforce strategy for this year. Her answer was somewhat of a shock.
The strategy is unique and it’s a great way to attract your target audience in an overwhelming environment.
This is what she said:
“In a nutshell, our demand gen strategy is to create a place of refuge from the chaos that is Dreamforce and ultimately bring value back to the event. Anyone who has ever been to Dreamforce knows that the event is quite literally a jungle. Every year things get bigger and crazier, so its really difficult to top that year-over-year.
A few years ago we started to realize that the expo was becoming a little crowded and we weren’t seeing a ton of value from our sponsorship. In fact, many of us in marketing were actually beginning to dread Dreamforce. So we shifted our demand gen strategy, stopped sponsoring Dreamforce, and started our own 3-day event called the Open Lounge.
The Open Lounge is not only escape from the Dreamforce jungle, but also a place to network, learn, and unwind. This year we have amazing sponsors (Marketo, Adroll, Engagio, Terminus, and Everstring) and a speaker line-up that is out of this world. We want people to leave the Open Lounge feeling informed, inspired and refreshed.”
The Open Lounge will be offering sessions, Wi-Fi, meeting space, an espresso cart, & more, just two blocks from the DF Expo Hall. Find out more here.
3. Dreamforce Countdown Series
Dreamforce information, tips, and tricks are written up and spread across the Internet like lost pieces in a never-ending puzzle. Wouldn’t it be more convenient if everything were in one place?
Why not kill two birds with one stone by giving that information and also building anticipation? You can give your audience something of value by creating a “countdown series.” Leading up to the event, each day can be a new learning experience, filled with important information about Dreamforce. The series should be built to draw or entice your audience to meet you at your booth once you get to the actual event.
For example, use a podcast scavenger hunt in which you reveal a code at the end of every episode. Then, when Dreamforce comes around, encourage listeners to show up to your booth and speak a secret sentence in order to be entered in some sort of giveaway.
Another way of implementing this strategy is through a video series. You can measure the effectiveness of your video series via Vidyard.
4. Upgrade Your Experience: Apptus and Heinz Marketing
This year I’ve been observing a new trend. Some marketers are “pre-gaming” by offering contests ahead of time. Winners are rewarded with an “upgrade to their experience” at Dreamforce.
Two companies that are doing this really well are Apptus and Heinz Marketing. Check out those links to see their landing pages and how they are using great prizes that will benefit their specific audience (those attending Dreamforce) during the event. Prizes include things like suite upgrades, flight upgrades and more.
The offer to upgrade someone’s experience made my list of awesome tactics for two reasons. It isn’t product heavy and it serves people in ways that are unrelated to making a purchase of any kind. Once again, great marketing comes down to serving others.
These companies want to help attendees have the ultimate Dreamforce experience and it has nothing to do with “what” they offer. By making someone else’s experience memorable they will remember the company that helped them with that privilege.
5. Advice from a Pro
I am in awe with strategies Vidyard has implemented at various marketing conferences. I asked Jodi Cerretani’s what advice she has for newcomers and marketers who will be attending Dreamforce.
Here’s what Vidyard had to say:
“Push yourself to think about how to drive sales conversations, not just leads. With a massive event like Dreamforce, it’s easy to focus on capturing lead volume simply by giving away cool swag or running a fun campaign to drive booth traffic.
But how much success do you think your sales team is going to have after the event when all they can follow up with is something like, “Thanks for stopping by our booth and grabbing a [insert swag name]. Now, I’d love to talk to you about buying our (likely expensive and complicated) product/ service.” Instead, think of ways to incentivize and promote product exploration and engagement so that the transition into a sales conversation is organic and natural.”
Dreamforce is all about who you meet and network with – and with that is an overwhelming amount of fun. It’s more about the network you build than the hands-on training. Thousands of people, from ninety countries, come together and meet at Dreamforce. Why not make it worth remembering?
Which strategies are you using to make Dreamforce memorable this year?