How We Hacked Dreamforce

We had one big question in mind when we started our Dreamforce 2015 project – how to stand out from the thousands of other great products on Cloud Expo floor?

Some of the big guys are playing with million-dollar conference budgets. How do you compete in attention with the budget of couple thousand dollars when booth next to you is handing out Teslas? Actually our budget meant that even the booth on Cloud Expo was out of reach. It was again time to innovate – something that startups are generally good at.

We came up with a guerrilla marketing concept that gave us pretty impressive results with a shoestring budget. During the four days of DF we managed to get 500+ downloads for our Zero Keyboard app. At the same time our Twitter followers grew 10 fold. On top of that we signed few enterprise customer deals. How to manage all that in such a short period of time? Basically, it all came down to three main components:

  1. Our product to be launched in DF.
  2. Maximizing our launch visibility in social media and app stores.
  3. Heavy round-the-clock footwork in the event.

I'll start with the product. Dreamforce came just in time for our plans to launch a Personal Edition of our Zero Keyboard for Salesforce product. Team Edition was already used by enterprise customers in Finland and we knew the potential. With the Personal Edition we wanted to bring the same user experience in the hands of individual sales reps without the buying bureaucracy. We set three goals to achieve as low entry point as possible:

Personal Edition

  • is the easiest and fastest way to record leads and memos to Salesforce.
  • works out of the box when downloaded from app stores – no managed packet needed to Salesforce end.
  • is free to download and use.

Our first big innovation for the guerrilla campaign was to name our soon to be launched Personal Edition as "Zero Keyboard for Dreamforce". With this move we made it to top three Dreamforce apps in Apple App Store and Google Play. This gave us instant visibility to tens of thousands users searching apps for Dreamforce and made our on-site marketing a lot easier.

To maximize our visibility among the competition at the event we had to do some serious brainstorming. Eventually, it all came together with a push of a foreigner living in Finland. She reminded us that Finland equals hockey. And there it was. All in for hockey concept. I could go on with the designing the shirts and all but let's go ecological and use picture instead. Meet the Zero Keyboard hockey team:

To speed up the downloads we launched a competition to win an Apple Watch for everyone downloading and signing in to our app. We chose flyers and backpack flags to maximize the visibility during the conference. With a heavy four-day hustling we handed out thousands of flyers during the event and it seemed to work. Downloads were pouring in with a constant flow. As final touch, we used Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google AdWords to drive the online marketing simultaneously to get the best possible coverage.

As always there is a flipside when you try to do things differently. The heavy hustling came with a prize and especially the backpack flags were too much inside the DF area. We managed to get two 'yellow cards' from the organizer side. But we obeyed the rules immediately and moved the 'circus' outside of the area and everything went smoothly after that.

All of this was done with $15,000 budget and that includes everything starting from the flights and accommodation for 5 guys from Finland to DF passes and marketing materials. It's still a big investment for a startup but probably one of the smallest in Dreamforce.