The Dream Lives On: Thoughts on Dreamforce 12

I’m still recovering a bit from this year’s Dreamforce.  Another year has passed, and it has been amazing to watch the event grow over the six years I’ve been able to attend.  This year was a bit different – because Influitive was launching our product that we’ve been working on for the past year and a half.  Even better – eight members of our small but growing team were on hand in San Francisco to kick-off the product launch of AdvocateHub.   As always, it was action packed – lots of meetings, lots of conversations and some merriment here and there.

Things kicked off Tuesday with a busy schedule. The theme this year was “Business Is Social.” As champions of customer advocacy, we couldn’t agree more with that sentiment.

Customer advocacy is all about social – it provides an outlet for fired up customers to get involved with the companies and products they love. And social is the platform for you and advocates to spread the word. Think about the last time you searched for a great restaurant. You probably read all the comments on Yelp and chose the one that fit your tastes best. Those comments were customer advocacy and social at their purest. Yes, business is social.

There were lots of interesting sessions on the agenda at Dreamforce. But we were on the floor of the Cloud Expo and meeting with customers and attendees most of the day. The reports we got were that the sessions were packed and very engaging.

On Tuesday afternoon, as the Expo started, we began telling the Influitive story to the attendees.

The Influitive team at Dreamforce 12

The Influitive team at Dreamforce 12.

Lots of folks were excited about us and could relate to the concept of advocate marketing.  We all have personal brands and products that we rave about – now Influitive is giving voice to the professional B2B consumers.  We were thrilled when Salesforce COO George Hu stopped by the booth for a demo.

Day two kicked off with Mark Benioff’s energetic “Business is Social” keynote. Give it a watch if you weren’t there. He brought up lots of great ideas. There’s so much to be optimistic about and it’ll be interesting to see what happens (and doesn’t) in the coming weeks and months.

We capped off Wednesday with a great party we co-hosted with our friends at Eloqua and NetprospexThe 2012 Dreamforce Modern Marketing Mixer at the W Hotel. This was the place to be. Mingling was the order of the evening (business is social, you know).  It was great seeing lots of old Eloqua clients and partners at the event – which reminded me how big an impact Eloqua has made on the marketing automation space.  At Influitive, we’re excited about bringing customer advocacy to the forefront of marketing and generating an entire ecosystem of customer marketing professionals which is going to be the next “hot” marketing space.

After a terrific evening, it was back to work on Thursday, with the bulk of the team focused on the Expo for the entire day.

As you’d expect, we talked to countless people over the course of the show. Usually that means fielding lots of questions. And this week was no different. One conversation I had centered on how to measure ROI.

That’s a loaded question, of course. Each company has a unique perspective on measuring ROI, so the concept means different things to different people.

For me, it’s all about the approach you take. If you don’t think about customer marketing with the idea that there is some intrinsic value in it, it’ll be hard to quantify the value or ROI of customer advocacy. Moreover, it’ll be tough to figure out how much a customer is worth over their lifetime as an advocate (not just as a customer). Think about it in the right way – that enlisting throngs of enthusiastic customer advocates makes for good business – and it will all come together.

In addition to talking with some great people at the booth, we got to spend some time walking the show floor. What did we see that we think will be big?

Leadspace is a very cool concept. The company’s tools look at a bunch of your existing closed/won deals and analyzes them. Then produces the items that make up an ideal customer profile and helps find those people. I think this will be huge.

Do you ever see some software you wish you’d had in a previous job? FreshDesk had some great software that I wish was around when I was ramping up a support team – it incorporates gamification elements for employee productivity and also has a nice simple interface.  Bonus: They’re a Toronto company too!

All in all, a great few days at Dreamforce. Great sessions and countless discussions with people about engaging advocates.  One of the best parts of the show were the honest words of encouragement and validation of our concept and vision. What we’re doing at Influitive is just what social businesses need.

So tell us – what did you like about Dreamforce?



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