The 3 Things You Can do to make Your Event as Successful as Dreamforce

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Dreamforce is the largest and most elaborate software conference on Earth today. They host the big celebrities, draw in the large crowds, and make the headlines every year. All of this is indicative of their success, but what makes Salesforce’s flagship event the most successful tech gathering after their humble beginnings in 2003?

Other events such as Content Marketing World and Oracle OpenWorld both host big speakers and entertainers, yet they don’t reach Dreamforce’s heights. Why is this?

Below are the three key components that drive the successes of Dreamforce. These techniques are all ones you can replicate and use to build the buzz for your next event!

It’s Not Business, It’s Fun!

Fortune’s Michael Lev-Ram summed up the main source of Dreamforce’s success:

“Why is Salesforce’s annual customer conference so popular? Because it doesn’t feel like one.”

It’s simple; the best way to keep people interested in your conference is to make it feel more fun and less like a boring business conference. Dreamforce attendees are dressed from business casual to jeans and t-shirts, DJs get attendees dancing, and popular entertainers such as the Foo Fighters keep the crowd hooked.
Dreamforce succeeds at making sure all necessary and useful information is given to its attendees in the most entertaining way possible. This ensures attendees get the most out of their experience and leave with the desire to return the following year.

In fact, this year Dreamforce stepped it up by teaming up with Celebrity Cruises to offer a cruise ship, the Dreamforce Dreamboat, to lodge attendees when they ran out of hotel rooms. The cruise ship offered many types of entertainment, from bars to an extravagant pool deck. How many conferences offer lodging in a cruise ship?

These may seem like extravagant props, but everything that Dreamforce has to offer is made to keep you hooked onto the information they pass onto you from speakers and breakout sessions, as well as boost the attendance every year. And it’s working, with 150,000 people having attended this year’s event.

Michael Lev-Ram said it best, “The key to the event’s success? Avoid classic business-conference traps. At every turn, Salesforce works to remind conference-goers that they are there to have fun—not buy software.”

It’s hard to be bored at a conference while you are constantly being entertained, which sets Dreamforce apart from many of its tech gathering competitors.

A Solid Content Marketing Strategy

Dreamforce goes all out in its event content marketing strategy to build as much buzz and excitement around it as possible every year.
Using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Instagram, their own blog, and a live-tweeting initiative, Dreamforce gets their message out in a stylistic fashion that sets the stage for their weekend event.

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Dreamforce uses its content marketing strategy to appeal to in-style initiatives, such as sustainability and eco-friendly offers at their event, which attract a younger and hipper crowd. Remaining topical is key to the success of any event.

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All of their content marketing strategies allow them to market their ideas, their hundreds of partners/sponsors, and previews of what to expect at the next Dreamforce event, which builds excitement for potential attendees.

Succeeding At Earned Media

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It isn’t enough to simply market yourself and your event. One thing Dreamforce excels at is generating earned media attention. Go to Google, click on the “News” tab, then type in “Dreamforce” and you will be given 22,300 hits. It is simple, the media loves Dreamforce, but why?

Not content to rest on the already-existing popularity of the event, Dreamforce consistently puts out press releases to maintain the media excitement for their event.
Headlines such as “Salesforce Announces Dreamforce 2015, The Largest Software Conference on Earth” are sure to turn heads and putting out consistent press releases takes the pressure off the media to define your event. Salesforce takes charge of the tone and headlines that are put out about their event and it works to their benefit. Most general stories about the event use the hard facts and numbers from the press releases in their stories, such as this Fortune piece:

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Each year, Dreamforce has had something new to release to the press, such as speakers or product debuts, which enticed more attendees and press coverage than before. Building on the success of their software solutions, Salesforce was able to market out bigger and bigger names to the press including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, George Lucas, and Neil Young.

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In fact, I discovered Dreamforce through earned media attention. Headlines in some of the biggest business and tech outlets like Forbes, Business Insider, TechCrunch, and Fortune intrigued me and now it is on my list of events to attend next year.

Want to learn more about earned media? Here is a guide to earning media attention for your events.

Conclusion

Sure, Dreamforce is the biggest name in tech events on the planet, a title once held by Oracle OpenWorld, but does this mean they will always be at the top?

Using and innovating on Dreamforce’s strategy could make your events just as successful and, who knows, maybe even put you on top.

Have you attended Dreamforce? What did you like about it? Anything you thought they could do better? Let us know in the comments below!

Looking for Event Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Event Management software solutions.

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Nick Morpus

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Nick Morpus is a former Capterra analyst.

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