Dreamforce 2012 Reflections: The Excellent & The Inadequate

September 26th, 2012 by Deborah Kim


We just got back from Dreamforce, which is a massive and exciting conference for the cloud computing industry. There were 90,000 attendees this year — wowza.

It was especially fun to get “backstage” expo floor access as an exhibitor. That means that they let us get in early (and stay late) so we could prep our booth. We got to see the setup crew work their impressively speedy magic on all the booths, including some huge, fancy ones.

Here’s a round-up of what we got right — and what we could’ve done better.

The Excellent

  1. Something for everyone. We knew prospective AND existing customers were going to drop by, so we were ready for both. We brought four kinds of flyers, each tailored to a specific audience. We offered discount coupons for new accounts and upgrades. And we had a no-fuss feedback survey for current customers, which you could fill out on our iPad with a few taps.
  2. Demos. We gave personal walkthroughs of current and upcoming features. We had videos on hand that covered common questions about our app, which was a great timesaver.
  3. Candy. Little treats = free joy. No badge-scanning necessary. (Other booths had some amazing lures, from race cars to arcade games. Our favorite was Eloqua’s free cappuccinos.)
  4. T-shirts. We wanted nice swag for our formidable customers, so we brought chic shirts. 😎
  5. Careful lead selection. We were happy to chat with anyone, but we only asked to scan their badge for a follow-up if we thought they were really and truly interested. That way, we’ll reach out to the people who want to give us a good try, instead of the people who’d rather not be bothered.
    We were asked a couple times by other booths if we’d want to swap leads, but we politely turned them down. It didn’t make much sense to get the contact info of people who weren’t looking for our app, and we didn’t want to break our customers’ trust by giving away their information without their permission.
  6. We were there! Since we’re a small-but-growing business, and not anywhere near San Francisco, the exhibitor and travel costs weren’t anything to sneeze at. But we’re so glad not to have missed this opportunity to make new connections and hang out with our customers. Conferences, especially ones as jam-packed as Salesforce, can be overwhelming, but there’s nothing else like it.
  7. Post-conference plan. We’ve got more feature releases on the way and special newsletters in the works. We’ll also get in touch with each of our potential customers and help them start building forms and makin’ moves.

The Inadequate

  1. The candy and the T-shirts ran out. While we’re glad they were well-loved, we wish we’d had enough to go around — no candy lover and customer left behind. If you managed to snag a T-shirt, consider yourself lucky! Next time, we’ll stock up on the sweets.
  2. We coulda saved ourselves the back pain. Whoops. We overestimated how many people would want flyers. For the future, we’re considering QR codes and paperless ways of taking us with you, so everyone feels less like a pack mule!
  3. Late registration. We waited ’til the last second to sign up for a booth, and well, that’s why we ended up on a quiet edge of the expo floor. It was a blessing in some ways — we had lots of space to chat freely — but we did end up with far less foot traffic. If Dreamforce 2013 will be your first exhibition, then don’t forget: booth locations are first-come, first-serve.
  4. Time management and little booth relief. Schedule yourself plenty of breaks and bring more of your team, if possible. Trust us. Those five-hour, nonstop standing days are tough, and you’ll be far more energized and friendly if you’re not tuckered out. And since there were only three of us, we didn’t get to take advantage of all Dreamforce had to offer. We couldn’t even check out any fantastic apps out there, because the ship — er, our booth — was our top priority, and we wanted to keep it running as smoothly as possible.
  5. Make the best of Friday. Since Friday is the slowest day in terms of booth traffic, it’s the perfect time to hang out with other exhibitors and go network!

Questions about sponsoring Dreamforce next year?

You’re welcome to comment here or email us. We’d love to hear from you.

Up next…

Stay tuned for thoughts on our flyer design!

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