If you’re like me, you’ve seen enough “We’d Love to See You at Dreamforce!” emails to fill several trash folders. At this point, they’re more played out that the horse dance.
If you’re using effort that broad, you can guarantee that nobody is going to stop by your booth. To truly engage and excite people, you have to think big and work to develop something that actually incentivizes them to get together with you.
Here are two things you should internalize as you make the rounds at this year’s Dreamforce.
Don’t kill your reputation before it begins
Have your value equation worked out. Don’t think people will automatically want to talk to you just because you’re awesome. Make sure you’re giving something to get something in return. Consider: Why should these people want to meet with you? Because they want to hear your pitch? Guaranteed not.
Always think in terms of what you can do to make your area appealing and pull people in. So you don’t have to scramble to get people to come see you, they’ll come naturally. If you build it, they will come and all that.
A great example of this is Apptus. They’ve become a sort of “Party Aggregator” for Dreamforce, because they know what everyone is really there for. Parties are fun, we all know that. That’s the type of approach to take. Which leads us to our next point.
The party has become the new booth
We learned this firsthand at last year’s Marketo Summit. We had several partners in attendance. But by far one of the most effective was EverString – who didn’t even have a booth. Instead, they took out Jillian’s Restaurant and made it their lounge. Tons of people stopped by, even more than at the booth we rented out.
Events like lounges and parties make people feel special, and as a result their barriers come down. Conversation happens naturally, everyone is in a great mood. At a booth, sure people can still be friendly, but inside they’re always bracing themselves for the pitch. Plus, with the loud and distracting circus atmosphere, it can be difficult to hold people’s attention. And as soon as they leave, they are onto the next booth and you’re an afterthought.
Lounges are really a better approach, they’re simply much more informal and fun, and people will remember the atmosphere and associate you with the positive vibes they got.
Scrapping the “must have booth” mentality also is more in tune with the mobile nature of people at these conferences. People seldom want to hang out in one area, they want to mix and mingle. It’s important to accept this reality and not simply chain yourself to your booth and hope people stop by. Get out there and make moves.
With Dreamforce ’15 shaping up to be the biggest one yet (over 150,000 people in attendance) it’s more important than ever to take a targeted approach. If you must have a booth, that’s great, but remember that is only one element of an effective strategy.
Above all, work to provide value and a fun experience that could never end up in a trash folder.