How We Used Account-Based Marketing To Target Our Top Prospects At Dreamforce

Account-based marketing is the newest buzzword in the B2B world, thanks to a new crop of technology that can help facilitate it.

We wanted to test if we could make this strategy work at one of the biggest technology conferences in the world—Dreamforce 2015.

In the weeks leading up to the event, many executives (or anyone with the power to influence a buying decision) are bombarded with email requests and phone calls from eager sales reps trying to schedule face-to-face meetings at Dreamforce.

With over 400 exhibitors at the events, it’s pretty much every exec’s worst nightmare. Walking the show floor is like walking around with a target on their back.

If only there was a way we could get our top prospects (marketing leaders from fast-growing B2B tech companies) to come to us instead of us having to hunt them down…

That’s when we got to thinking—what if we could use the principles of account-based marketing to capture the attention of companies we really cared about? What if we could get people who knew our top prospects to bring them to us?

And that’s how our Wild West-inspired bounty hunting theme for Dreamforce was born.

Turning Dreamforce into the Wild West

With the help of our sales team, we created a “Most Wanted” list of our top 125 prospects. Then, we put $100 bounties on each of them. Anyone who brought a Most Wanted B2B marketing executive to our booth would receive a $50 bounty. The Most Wanted marketer would also receive $50.

account based marketing at events

We promoted the campaign through our website, social media, advocate marketing program and email marketing campaigns a few weeks before Dreamforce. We also created custom tweets and images for each Most Wanted marketer, which we then sent to the target and their company’s Twitter handle in the hopes that one of their colleagues would bring them in to collect the bounty.

The campaign received a lot of attention on social media as soon as we launched it. But we knew we still needed a way to stand out on the show floor.

account based marketing at eventsAdvocacy in action at Dreamforce

Despite our booth at Dreamforce being the second-smallest size offered, we went all out with our theme to get attention. We’re talking cowboy hats on our sales reps, a saloon-style booth design…even a real cactus!

Dozens of attendees stopped by our booth to tell us they thought the campaign was clever and hilarious.

Because we’re all about customer advocacy, we had attendees who dropped by our booth tell us about a company that they loved. As a thank you for sharing their stories, we gave them a branded mason jar with a mystery cash prize (ranging from $1 to $20).

account based marketing at eventsWe shared photos of these acts of advocacy on social media, and tagged the brands being mentioned so they could see the power of advocacy firsthand (and uncover new advocates).

account based marketing at events We also wanted to involve our advocates in our Dreamforce campaign—whether they were at the event or not.

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Digital Dreamforce Experience

Our customer marketing manager Truman Tang set up an online Wild West-themed Dreamforce Experience (using our AdvocateHub Experiences platform) so those who couldn’t attend could feel like they were part of the event, and those who were present could get more immersed in it.

In the experience, advocates were given Dreamforce-related resources—like session info, photo updates and tips for attendees—before, during and after the conference. Alongside this content, Truman created advocacy challenges that could be completed for points. These acts of advocacy included asking our advocates to share our Dreamforce Most Wanted list, or write us a review. To motivate our advocates, we gamified the experience by offering the person who earned the most points an ounce of real gold.

account based marketing at eventsAs a result, our advocates generated:

  • 623 social mentions across social networks before and during the event about our Most Wanted campaign, our speaking sessions and other content assets
  • 18 product reviews on websites like TechnologyAdvice, G2 Crowd and AppExchange
  • 31 high-quality customer referrals

How many executives did we lasso?

By the end of Dreamforce, we captured 8 of our bounties—which was a smaller number than we had hoped.

account based marketing at dreamforceMichelle Swan – VP, Customer Exp. & Marketing at Appirio

account based marketing at eventsRobin Saitz – CMO at Brainshark

account based marketing at eventsAnna Fisher – Head of Lead Generation at Zoominfo

We learned that many of our Most Wanted prospects didn’t attend Dreamforce. However, many told us via email or social media that they were impressed with our campaign.  

account based marketing at events

account based marketing at events

account based marketing at events1. Personalization takes a lot of work—but is worth the effort

One-size-fits all marketing doesn’t work. Instead of going after everyone at Dreamforce, we stayed focused on our top prospects and created a unique experience for them.

It took effort to collect accurate information about our Most Wanted marketers (i.e. their names, companies and titles) and pull their photos to create graphics. But the custom tweets and images created a memorable campaign for our top prospects.  

2. Get your sales team involved

We asked our sales reps to make a list of 10 executives that they wanted to connect with. This formed the basis of our “Most Wanted” list. Our reps loved having a fun, unique reason to reach out to their prospects. Aligning our sales and marketing goals helped us move the needle on some of our biggest targeted accounts.

3. Make it fun

We created Most Wanted images of our top prospects wearing cowboy hats. We hoped these goofy images would catch their attention on social media. It worked!

account based marketing at eventsThis experiment showed us that account-based marketing can help you stand out—but you need to have good data. If we had focused on targeting just those we knew would be at Dreamforce, we may have had better results.

We’re excited to keep experimenting with account-based marketing and will share more of our findings with you in the future.