Is Dreamforce Worth It?

Is Dreamforce Worth It?

Is Dreamforce Worth It?  (Wonder what this guy would say … must be hot in there!)

After attending this year’s Dreamforce, a number of friends and colleagues have asked whether Dreamforce is worth the investment of time and money.

Here are my thoughts after attending for the first time.

As an attendee (non-exhibitor)

  1. I think it is a worthwhile use of time for anyone involved in the industry, whether you are a marketer, executive, or software entrepreneur.  Any eager “student of the game” may find value, as the conference is a good place to soak in the latest thoughts, technologies, and trends.
  2. The quality of the conversations and information available are pretty high.  You can take part in a lot for free (although you won’t get meals and some other perks, but that’s not a big deal).
  3. The caliber of the speakers is very good.  For example, the Prime Minister of Haiti was there, along with Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook) and Marissa Mayer (Yahoo).  While money isn’t everything, it’s not every day that you get to participate in a session with billionaires, heads of state, and other people who are making a difference in the world via NGOs and other charitable organizations.

As an exhibitor

  1. It certainly seems like an investment worth considering.  Given that there are 130,000 attendees, one certainly has an opportunity to be in front of a lot of people.   However, I’ll reserve judgment on this until next year’s show (we intend to exhibit).
  2. I walked through at least 3 exhibit halls, but none were gigantic.  They were each manageable in the number of aisles to walk and absorb.  I believe there were 350 total exhibitors.   To me, this means that as a newcomer, it is not impossible to get good foot traffic and generate conversations.  How many of these turn into qualified opportunities remains to be seen.
  3. Because the aisles can get super-packed, it seems that companies who clearly state their value proposition (what they do for you) at eye-level or higher have an advantage.  In some cases, I could not see what a company did because there were simply too many people in the aisles.  However, if their value prop was placed in a location above everyone’s head, it was easier to decide whether or not to make a stop.

Overall, outside of getting the flu and having to stay within a few hundred feet of a bathroom (yuck), I had a great time at the show and am definitely eager to return next year as an exhibitor.  I would say that YES, Dreamforce is worth it and is an event that should be considered.

What about you?  Do you think the show is worth the investment of time as an attendee?  How about as an exhibitor?

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The State of Marketing Automation at Dreamforce 13

Marketing automation

One reason I spent time at last week’s Dreamforce was to gather insight around the state of marketing automation.  At MindFire, we’re refining our product/market fit, so it is of particular interest to see how others are positioning themselves, and how the market is responding to the recent acquisitions and IPOs.

Attending the show were Marketo, Pardot (as a part of Salesforce and ExactTarget), Act-on, and Silverpop.  Hubspot and Eloqua did not exhibit.

Here are a few highlights:

  • I asked multiple Pardot, ExactTarget, and Salesforce reps how each of their solutions fit together, and here’s what I gathered:
    • After ExactTarget acquired Pardot, the directive was to integrate Pardot into the Marketing Hub.  Some of this integration is evident directly within Marketing Hub.
    • When Salesforce acquired ExactTarget, the directive was given to move Pardot into the Salesforce Sales Cloud, and move Radian6 and Buddy Media into ExactTarget’s Marketing Hub — which was renamed “Marketing Cloud.”
    • Over time, Pardot will become a more seamless part of Salesforce, with a focus on B2B marketers who need to nurture and score leads.
    • ExactTarget, as the Marketing Cloud, is pushing the concept of a single view of the customer, to which a variety of media can be used to communicate, including web, email, social, and products (like your car).
  • While some of Pardot’s functionality and ExactTarget’s “Journey Builder” seem similar, the official line is that Pardot is focused on lead nurturing and scoring in the B2B realm, while Journey Builder is targeted at B2C use-cases where communicating with existing customers is the goal (although it works in B2B acquisition campaigns as well).  The ExactTarget product does not do scoring, although it doesn’t seem a far stretch that they would incorporate it.
  • It was interesting that very few of the ExactTarget reps could speak to the cost of the Marketing Cloud.  The closest I could get to an answer was $5-$10k for the social aspect (Buddy Media and Radian6).

In listening to folks at the Act-on and Pardot booths speak about their products, it was interesting to hear how few claimed to know much about their competition.  It was refreshing to hear their honesty (“You know, I really don’t know too much about Hubspot …“), but I was surprised that there wasn’t more organizational awareness of how to exploit their competition’s strengths and weaknesses.

With respect to the marketing automation space, what else stands out?  If you attended Dreamforce, what did you notice?

V2MOM: How SalesForce.com Went From Idea to Billion-Dollar SAAS Company

Marc's book on Salesforce.com and V2MOM

Marc’s book on Salesforce.com and V2MOM [Amazon]

One area that we spend a lot of time thinking about (and working to improve) is our ability to communicate our company’s direction in a way that aligns everyone.

We use the word “alignment” a lot around the office, and we’ve made a number of changes that have helped us improve in this area, like daily stand-ups (video example here).  Alignment is critical for start-ups and companies going through rapid growth.

In “Behind The Cloud“, Marc Benioff (co-founder of Salesforce.com), shared the V2MOM planning process he and his team used to grow Salesforce.com into the largest SaaS company in the world.

The acronym stands for vision, values, methods, obstacles, and metrics.  The purpose of V2MOM is to create alignment, from the leadership team out to every team member.

Here’s how the V2MOM process works:  Read more of this post

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