There’s a lot of noise that comes with Dreamforce every year. With the conference attracting over 150,000 people to San Francisco for one week, constant promotion that starts 6 months prior to the actual conference start date, Dreamforce can be a big cash burn if you don’t get anything in return. Sounds challenging right? Well, we couldn’t make that mistake this year.
So, as a startup founder, what canyou do to stand out at a big conference like Dreamforce when you’re up against those big booths and marketing dollars that are spent by massive companies on the trade floor?
It was all about winning with mind over money.
Here are our highlights.
First off, our budget was a far cry from that of most of the vendors on the floor. What we lacked in budget, we made up for in creativity. Nothing gets you foot traffic to a booth like some really cool creative $hit.
What did we come up with you ask? Read on...
Without a great team the rest doesn’t matter. We have awesome tech and a solid team. They were well trained (using our tech of course), confident and ready to go with a 1, 3 or 10 min conversation and able to give a custom demo to anyone who passed by our booth.
The Creative swag
- Hangover Pills - Think about your past DF experiences. Wouldn’t you love to have a hangover-free morning after the many parties you went to? It’s the best gift, the gift of a productive and nausea-free conference day. Just ask two of our two members.
- Suede-like notebooks - Nothing feels better than writing in a good quality notebook. To be completely honest, I didn’t think notebooks would be that popular. They were and I stood corrected.
- Backpacks for dolls - #1 Everyone loves miniature things. #2 Most DF attendees have kids. A tiny backpack that can fit on dolls & plushies was a killer booth lure.
You know, the kind that are clever and make people say “I need to collect all of ‘em ” - like McDonalds Monopoly stickers. (Read them closely.)
This was one of my personal fave’s. History, sarcasm, humour and creative - that’s a cocktail party I’ll stay at. If you don’t get the play on words, ask a Dreamforce junkie.
Benioff fans couldn’t walk by the booth without getting a picture with it.
There was a sticker and t-shirt that got us in a bit of trouble. We had this amazing t-shirt of all the previous Dreamfest bands in funko-pop style - but the Benioff and Parker in the middle was too much “likeness” of the Salesforce branding - oooops!.
It’s now a collector’s item.
We also made the artists into stickers:
The Sales Cloud Demo Jam
This was the epitome of David and Goliath. We were invited to compete in the Sales Cloud Demo Jam at Dreamforce against the Titans of the ecosystem. Including Conga. Docusign. Five9. Aircall. And Vlocity.
And we won!
Having won the Sales Cloud Demo Jam, we were entered into the finals - the Mega Demo Jam. All of the winners from the different cloud competitions were facing off. This was a completely different challenge - we knew our tech could stand against the giants of the sales cloud competition, but how would we stack against Marketing Cloud apps? Or Service Cloud apps?
We came in strong and confident, having just won against some of the top companies in the sales world, with a refined pitch from the previous day.
And then we WON THE MEGA DEMO JAM too!
One thing we learned from the previous year is there’s a lot more going on at Dreamforce than what’s at Moscone. There are a number of niche side events targeted towards specific people that can be well worth your time and money.
This year, we did the Sales Enablement Soiree, hosted by the Highspot team.
Having just come off a press announcement from John Barrows partnering with LevelJump, we had this amazing sold-out session with top Trainers and Enablers:
- John Barrows, CEO of JBarrows Training
- Danielle Berry, Sr. Dir. Enablement @ Salesforce
- Hang Black, Sr. Dir. WW Sales Enablement @ 8x8
- Doug Landis, Growth Partner @ Emergence Capital
- Dominique Levin, Managing Partner @ Winning By Design
- Jen Burns, Head of Global Sales Enablement @ Revinate
- Richard Harris, Dir. Sales Enablement @ Sales Hacker
- David Priemer, Founder & Chief Sales Strategist of Cerebral Selling
Our guests received a ton of value, having one-on-one time with some of the best in the industry.
Last year, we received a ton of awareness from a video that Cory Bray and I did after Dreamforce ended. It was a satire on trade show booth etiquette and badge scanning. If you’ve ever walked a show floor or have been on booth duty - it’s a good laugh. Check it out here:
This year, after the Soiree was over, Cory and I reprised our roles in our ongoing badge scan soap opera:
Go In With A Plan, And Execute Flawlessly
As a startup, you won’t always have the cash or team to make the impact you want. It’s important to go in with clear expectations and goals.
We won’t know for sure what the ROI will be for another few months as we’re following up with all the greatness that just happened.
But the one thing that’s for sure - we had a great plan, and we executed flawlessly. As a startup, execution is sometimes the only thing you can control.
Make sure your team is ready, and you’re giving it 100% with the resources you have.