Business professionals in beanbag chairs – Dreamforce Plaza

4 Key Marketing Lessons Learned at Dreamforce 2012

This was my first year at Dreamforce, and let me say it is an event that I highly recommend you go to if given the chance. Full of energy, industry experts, inspiring motivational speakers, and of course the entertainment and parties; it is the must-attend event of the year for any business professional. Most of the sessions I attended focused on marketing, sales process, and reporting. I also tried to make it to most of the keynotes. As a marketer I thought I’d give a summary of some of the marketing lessons I learned from my time at Dreamforce:

Business professionals in beanbag chairs – Dreamforce Plaza

Business professionals in beanbag chairs – Dreamforce Plaza

#1 The most successful people have a plan, but aren’t afraid to ditch it when it isn’t working.

From the sessions on advanced content strategy to the sessions on optimizing your sales process from lead to close; the message that resonated with me most is that it is really important to have a plan and a plan that everyone in your organization can understand and get behind.

For database marketers, this means documenting your processes. Define what a lead is, what an MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) is, what a SAL (Sales Accepted Lead) is, and what an opportunity is for your organization. These definitions can change, but it is important that your entire organization understand your process so that you’re all on the same page, talking the same language. Be transparent with all departments in your company with how you are measuring things.

Create a plan for lead nurturing, clearly define the different buying stages and appropriate content for each stage, but don’t be afraid to change these plans when prospects aren’t clicking through or moving through the buying stages. As Mike Tyson says, “Everyone has a plan, until they get hit.” Be purposeful, but flexible.

#2 Don’t let limited resources stop you or your business from being successful.

As Anthony Robbins mentioned in his keynote speech, “Lack of resources is never the problem, the problem is a lack of resourcefulness.” There are lots of expensive tools to help your business succeed, but when it comes down to it, doing the best with what you’ve been given can always lead to success. Let’s face it, most of the time marketing is thought of as a cost center, so marketers are constantly having to prove their value.

In the session on “Online Marketing for Bootstrappers,” I learned that you can do a lot with very little. Don’t have marketing automation? Use tools like Unbounce and Mailchimp to capture and segment your prospects. Have a limitied PPC budget? Measure what’s working and what’s not and focus your money on those keywords that bring you the most qualified prospects. Are you a 1-man marketing operation? Remember to keep your focus on the tasks that directly affect the bottom line. Using templates and an easily modifiable WordPress theme can create an effective online presence in no time.

#3 Take a holistic approach to everything you do. Each thing you do should build on the last thing you did.

In marketing departments large and small, sometimes we get caught up in doing our own thing, not realizing that each role is part of a marketing machine. One way to combat this is to take an agile process to your marketing efforts. Have daily “stand-up” meetings where you take a quick five minutes to suss out your team’s day and any barriers that exist to get projects moving forward. Have each team member be part of the overall strategy. Include members from other departments especially in regards to content for your company blog and real-time data on customer pain points.

One thing that I learned in the session on “Advanced Content Strategies,” was how important it is to include top executives in your social marketing efforts. At Dreamforce by and large the message became “Business is Social.” Social media has become not just one job for one person at your company, it is everyone’s job, especially top executives. Since buyers make a lot of decisions prior to even speaking to someone at your company, it is important to have different voices within your company share their knowledge, this fosters trust and makes your company a thought leader.

#4 Make the customer the hero. Don’t take all the credit.

Another great lesson I learned from Dreamforce was the importance of customer service and transparency. Let’s face it, with enough resources your product or service can be copied, your best staff hired away; the only true competitive advantage you have is your company’s culture. Providing stellar customer service from sending the right messages at the right time, providing thought leadership, assisting your customer through the buying cycle, and going out of your way to serve your customers is what will make you successful in the new “social” world.

People are already sharing their opinions of you online, so why not give them something to talk about? Provide case studies that show off your customers and how you helped them solve their toughest problems, don’t just talk about your product’s features and benefits. Another important lesson, please don’t use a ton of marketing language or internal jargon in your marketing communications. Just because your e-mails are automated, doesn’t mean they have to sound like it, be personable and human, this will go a long way in creating a relationship with your prospects and customers.