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Published in Branding category on (10/12/2016)

Best Booth Design and Strategy We Saw at Dreamforce

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Certain’s Dreamforce 2016 Recap

When we attended Dreamforce, we were wowed by how Salesforce used a fully integrated marketing approach to flawlessly execute their flagship event; from their trailblazing theme to their highly informative sessions, and, of course, their wide array of exhibitors with the most innovative booth designs. For four days, Dreamforce took over the Bay Area, with networking parties, excellent examples of ambush marketing, live entertainment, and of course, their technology conference, the event itself. So, what aspect of Dreamforce had the most amount of star power and shined the brightest? The answer is: exceptional booth experiences.

Exceptional booth experiences are not just comprised of innovative booth design, but in lead generation strategies, gamification, and the ways in which marketers and salespeople are able to engage with prospects at the event and on the exhibitor floor. At Dreamforce, we saw a variety of different sales and marketing booth strategies, from tried and true favorites like Plinko, to drawing prospects into booths with prized event swag. This tech conference reinforced the power and potential that events have to be the face for your brand and enhance the customer experience.  

Dreamforce was also an excellent example of just how important it is to give attendees a standout booth experience, and that experience starts with thoughtful booth design. According to the Event Manager Blog, “Booth design is a serious business and many of the major trade shows are giving much coveted awards for the best exhibition stand. The exhibition space is an integral part of modern sales and marketing strategy and eye-catching designs means not only more attention at the show but also greater visibility online.”

So we hit the exhibitor floor at Dreamforce looking for the most effective marketing and sales strategies to increase booth engagement, the best booth designs, and the most eye-catching swag ideas. Then we talked to the marketing and sales people who were behind or executing the strategies.

Here’s who had the best booths at Dreamforce, complete with insider tips on enhancing the attendee experience at your booth!   

Most Out of The Box Display: Freight Farms

I did not expect to see a product for farmers at Dreamforce. Surprise! But Freight Farms, a company focusing on hydroponic farming delivered the “unexpected factor.” Not only that, but Freight Farms benefited from first mover’s advantage as there was no other booth marketing towards the same demographic, so they captured 100% of the market share of attendees looking for urban farming solutions.   

When speaking to Patrick Joyce in Sales and Development at Freight Farms about his innovative booth design, I learned that the concept behind it was to have prospects get to see the product in-person. The two products they were exhibiting, the Leafy Green C and the Leafy Green Machine were vertical gardens in upcycled shipping containers featuring LED lights, and were beautiful examples of urban farming.

I asked Patrick what the response had been to his booth and how much traffic he experienced. Patrick said, “The response has been insane. There’s this moment where people walk up to the farm and look at it, and then you start to explain, and there’s an epiphany. So we feel like it’s been a great event. As far as the IoT space, it’s a really tangible way to understand what that means because you can see it in action.”  

So, for Freight Farms, their Dreamforce booth helped educate prospects, announce their new product to the market, and forge relationships between their sellers and buyers. All in all, the event was a huge success for them!

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Best Selling Skills: Dun & Bradstreet

How you sell and who is staffing your booth is vitally important. Take for example my experience with Erin Wright, the Senior Director of Marketing at Dun & Bradstreet. She was approachable, knowledgeable, and knew how to communicate all of the high-level aspects of her company to me.

The highlight of the Dun & Bradstreet booth experience for me was their selling skills on the exhibitor floor. According to BizBash in a recent article featuring Nancy Drapeau, the Director of Research for The Center for Exhibition Industry Research, “The nature of the pitch has to shift. If all you’re doing is pushing information at people … that’s not going to work. It needs to be a concentrated selling approach, engaging smartly. So it’s all about the quality of booth staff. You need people who can support an attendee’s information interests when they are ready to have that kind of engagement.”

After visiting twenty booths in a two hour period, Erin was the first person to strike up an authentic conversation with me. Her booth design was clean and simple, and the Dun & Bradstreet monitor demonstrated their value proposition clearly. Dun & Bradstreet is a partner of Salesforce and is a data-driven risk management and scoring company. Also, while I was perusing their booth, I noticed their swag. While I had seen many emergency kits as swag at other booths, I thought the naming of their kit as the “Closer’s Kit” to be unique and interesting. Who can resist the secret to closing a deal a smart little bag? I’m in!

Best Collateral Presentation: Bluewolf an IBM Company

When I came across Bluewolf’s collateral display, I was impressed. Marketing event collateral serves many purposes: it tells the story of your brand succinctly, creates excitement internally for your sales and marketing team, and it strengthens a relationship between potential buyers and your brand. But, sometimes the best collateral can get lost if it’s not displayed properly.

If you’ve been to your share of tech conferences, you’ve typically come across data sheets, brochures, and marketing collateral displayed on booth tables or literature display racks, and the marketing collateral becomes background noise.

Instead, Bluewolf made their event collateral front and center, and gave Dreamforce attendees the impression of walking into a Bluewolf library or bookstore. Each shelf had a clean, mid-century modern presentation, and the brochures and pamphlets took on the look and feel of Moleskin planners, notebooks, and journals. Each piece of collateral had a crafted and personalized feel to it, which speaks exactly to what Bluewolf does and the services that they provide. Bluewolf is a global consulting agency that builds digital solutions and was a sponsor at Dreamforce.

The effect of Bluewolf’s booth experience was that I took every piece of their event collateral and was inspired by their messaging, graphic design, and marketing approach. I was so impressed by their collateral that I shared all of it with my sales and marketing team as an example of how event leave-behinds can be engaging. Job well done!  

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Best ‘Ambush Marketing Strategy’ Outside of Dreamforce: FinancialForce

On a hot, seemingly summer day in the Bay Area, nothing says San Francisco more than boba tea, or should I say, Boba Guys? Actually, at the Boba Guys location in the Mission District, the line for their Taiwanese tea can span for blocks, and it’s right up there in the SF food scene with La Taqueria’s tacos, Tartine’s pastries, and Blue Bottle’s coffee. It’s that desirable. So when I passed FinancialForce’s booth in SOMA giving away free Boba Guys tea in front of their flagship office, their booth stopped me in my tracks.

FinancialForce is the leading Cloud ERP vendor with apps built entirely on the Salesforce App Cloud. While they were a platinum sponsor of Dreamforce, and their presence outside of the event did not constitute the true meaning of ‘ambush marketing,’ their booth was one of the most trafficked that I had seen.

I asked their booth staff about how their marketing team came up with their concepts for their giveaways, and they told me, “We love boba and we wanted to do something interesting and new for a giveaway for Dreamforce and we thought Dreamforce attendees would love it.”

Additionally, as part of their ingenious gamification strategy, FinancialForce was giving away a drone each day of Dreamforce. So when it came to creative ways to generate booth traffic, FinancialForce won hands down!  

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Best Dreamforce Party: Certain, DemandBase, Full Circle, and Oracle Marketing Cloud

Is it gauche to give yourself an award? As part of our presence at Dreamforce, we teamed up with DemandBase, Oracle Marketing Cloud, Full Circle Insights, Brightcove, ZoomInfo, and ThinkSmartOne to host a party at Dreamforce. The event was hosted at Temple, the premiere electronic nightclub of San Francisco.

What made our Dreamforce party so special? We created a truly VIP experience. We gave our VIPs a customized drink that we named ourselves: the Marketer’s Mule. Then we served it in monogrammed copper mugs to personalize our attendee’s event experience.

By providing VIPs a unique item that they could take away with them, we were able to demonstrate Certain’s ability to develop personalized event experiences for our clients. Creating swag for our VIPs was a way for us to show loyalty to our customers, and by creating a clever drink for all Dreamforce party attendees, it was a great way to achieve brand awareness and get people talking about our company.

Once the Marketer’s Mules were flowing on the dance floor, the party really began! And the People’s Party at Temple was a welcomed respite from a long day at Dreamforce.

Overall, Dreamforce was an exhilarating 4 days of a marketing technology conference at its best. Between the parties, lunches, ambush marketing, free swag, and other out of the box marketing tactics, San Francisco was the epicenter of innovative events. We hope that you’ve taken away ideas for an improved booth experience so that you can strengthen relationships with your customers and accelerate the buyer’s journey through a highly personalized event experience.

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