Yesterday I attended Salesforce.com’s 2011 DreamForce in San Francisco, their annual event for customers, partners and press. If you’ve never attended DreamForce, I highly recommend doing so. It is marketing theater of the highest order, not only entertaining, but also full of lessons about how to do these kind of events. In Marc Benioff’s hands, Salesforce is much more than just a SAAS CRM and an internal Facebook-like app (Chatter), SalesForce is a platform, and the future of enterprise computing. If you watch closely, Benioff does three things very well at his event:
- Paint an attractive vision. Whether he can pull it off or not is an open question, but there is no doubt that he paints a vision of the future of enterprise computing that is attractive to customers and to a lesser extent, partners and ISVs.
- Effectively use customer testimonials. Burberry, Avon, Kelly Services, Facebook all talked about the exciting things that they were doing with Salesforce and the Force platform. They were enthusiastic and convincing. Particularly effective was a video that demonstrated how a small consulting firm had used Heroku to deploy a very scalable Facebook app for Warner Bros. Entertainment.
- Entertain and enlighten. Any vendor can hire a big name musical act (Metallica this year at DreamForce). But Benioff also brings on stage well-known thought leaders, interviews them, and keeps people entertained as well as sends them off thinking. Last year he interviewed former President Bill Clinton, this year he interviewed Eric Schmidt of Sun Microsytems/Novell/Google. The questions were thoughtful, delivered well, and clearly established Benioff as someone who is comfortable discussing big issues with these thought leaders.
Although people loved DreamForce, there were at least a few rumblings and complaints among the partners and ISVs that I talked to. The ISVs on stage with Benioff were not chosen because they were the biggest or the most innovative; they were all ISVs either owned by SalesForce (Heroku), or where Benioff had made a personal investment (Seesmic, Kenandy). And clearly the man’s ego is as big as his stage presence: 30 minutes or so of the day two keynote was devoted to the Benioff Children’s Hospital.
What does all this have to do with Agile Marketing? It is a reminder that although Agile Marketing is both a philosophy and a methodology that aligns marketing with the business, results in accelerated and measured results, and helps an organization adapt to change, it’s not enough by itself to guarantee great marketing. You also need a compelling vision and effective delivery. In my opinion, Marc Benioff and his team delivered on both counts this week in Moscone Center.