I Survived Dreamforce ‘17: Here Are My Top Marketing Takeaways

We made it. We survived another Dreamforce - the largest technology conference in the world. Salesforce does an exceptional job at crafting amazing experiences for their customers. Salesforce does it all--from killer parties, incredibly insightful sessions, and informative customer success halls- they’re involved every step of the way to ensure a great customer experience. This year was no different.

As an attendee, just like the other 170,000 of us, I left with notebook written cover to cover with notes and wanted to share them with those who experienced some major DF17 FOMO.

Let’s start with the top marketing themes  

As a marketer, I did a session balancing act of what my organization needed me to attend as well as some SFDC-specific sessions that covered Lightning, Einstein, etc. After reviewing my notes on the sessions I went to, these were some of the main themes I gleaned from the event.

Account-Based Marketing - ABM is here to stay--because it works. There were 27 sessions on the agenda for ABM (yes, I counted). I’m willing to bet that this is more than any other marketing topic at DF17.  

GDPR - These regulations have been in place for a while now. But companies are about to hit some BIG penalties if we don’t get our you-know-what together. The sessions were seasoned with panic by the attendees who have been putting this on the back burner.

Marketing and Sales Alignment - Having been in marketing for 7+ years, I don’t see this going away. However, I do see a shift in the challenges (not so much us against them, more “let’s do this”) and teams playing more nicely.

Storytelling and creating better experiences - Often the marketing team is assumed to be comprised of entirely “creatives”, and in turn should be great at storytelling. I am not (I’m more of a problem solver), but after Dreamforce, I'm feeling much more confident with this and am excited to put my new creative skills to work.

Here are my top session takeaways 

 Account Based Marketing Starts and Ends with Data-quality

Companies are in various stages of rolling out ABM. Almost all of the sessions centered around implementing and the first steps of an ABM strategy.

Here are some helpful steps that recommend starting with clean, structured data:

  1. Dedupe - identify and remediate duplicate companies and leads/contacts.
  2. Standardize - field inputs should be consistently formatted and used.
  3. Identify Gaps - Analyze your data by the fields that matter the most to your business (regions, personas/job function), where are you missing data or contacts.
  4. Stop Garbage In - If you clean up your database and allow the clutter in, you will continue to see a lackluster performance of your campaigns. Have a strategy for cleaning up, appending, and acquiring new data and contacts. Otherwise, your CRM becomes a place your records go to die.

GDPR-Know your rights!

I attended three sessions on GDPR. I want to fully understand the implications for my own database, but also some of the challenges our customers will face when attempting to clean up their database for the deadline, and then how to keep it clean.

The recommendations in #1 apply here also.

It was really helpful to understand what the specific rights are in layman's terms:

  • Right of access - the contact should know you are processing their information. This means notification of cookie trackie, double opt-in, etc.
  • Right to rectification, erasure, and restriction of processing - contact has the right to updating, removing, or allowing you to process.
  • Right to data portability - allows contacts to move, copy, or transfer data from one environment to another for their own purposes.
  • Right to be forgotten - Contacts are able to request data to be erased with no trial. Think: those embarrassing Timehop photos gone. There was some angst with Google around this.

When preparing for GDPR readiness, you should determine to what extent you will be applying these changes. Are you going to take a more liberal approach where you apply the changes just those in the EU? Or a more conservative approach that will apply to your entire database regardless of location?*

*Caution - take consideration of contacts based in the US but are EU citizens.

Marketing and Sales Alignment - Still not aligned, but getting close

Here are some changes you can implement to help with alignment:

  • Introduce Revenue Operations - move away from siloed marketing and sales operations functions by introducing Revenue operations. Our common goal is revenue. Reporting on the same info will help “stop the fighting” of whose version of the truth is accurate.
  • If you want to make an impact, put the individual rep into the reporting. How are your campaigns influencing specific territories? Here’s one of the examples: When looking at campaign responses for the team as a whole, numbers look good, so why is this one rep complaining about lead volume? When you take a deeper look into a specific territory, it becomes more obvious as to why that rep was complaining of no activity taking place in his territory.
  • Heads of marketing and sales should meet monthly to ensure focus is on the right initiatives.

Marketing should be in the business of creating experiences

Four words -- Salesforce Customer Success Team. They are crazy ridiculous and wicked smart. They are the ones that put on all the onstage demos at Dreamforce (like this. #teamgoals.) I participated in two sessions with this team and they presented the concept that marketing should be “producers of experiences, not the creator of messages” — marketing becomes the product.

The art of storytelling was broken down into a science. The story should be focused on the “From ___ to ____ ” journey. This is the framework they laid out to build out the outline of the story.

Access the Customer Success Team’s demo toolkit that has so many helpful tips - https://reachforce.quip.com/EZ9RAt5PxuJI

After winding down from this years Dreamforce, I’m already anticipating for next years. In this rapidly growing industry, there are always new topics and technologies to learn about.

What were some of your favorite sessions?

A big shout out to our Salesforce Account Manager, Danielle Barnett, for helping the team prep for and navigate Dreamforce.

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