Let’s face it, just seeing this circa 1988 TV ad from Oldsmobile, the now defunct GM brand, is an uncomfortable and cosmic-gone wrong reminder of what happens when your marketing contains a direct negation about what your product or service is not, which often can backfire in major ways, reinforcing the idea you were trying to deny about what your brand is to your audience—think of the paradoxical command to not think about an elephant. When we think of the smartest brands out there, inclusion and being able to offer something of meaning to everyone can set you up to be a queen on the marketplace’s proverbial chess board—Salesforce’s stellar conference event and brand within a brand, Dreamforce is an excellent example of this.
This year’s Dreamforce looks to be another record-breaking year as likely more than 170,000 visitors from over 80 countries will descend on the San Francisco Bay area, an already notably diverse metropolis. Anyone who knows about Dreamforce knows this is anything but your father’s business trade show. Afterall, Dreamforce has dared to dream what a major business tech conference can be and has added jet fuel to that thinking.
In recent years, Salesforce has perfected on their already appetizing recipe for Dreamforce—combining world-class keynotes such as Michelle Obama (one of this year’s guests), Billie Jean King, Melinda Gates, Tony Robbins, Sir Richard Branson, and others with the most impressive customer success live demos where Salesforce usually shows dons it’s latest applied innovation. There’s more with an extensive Cloud Expo featuring 400+ partners, and over 3,300 breakout sessions all over downtown San Francisco in more speciality areas than you can shake a stick at and the offering of the rockin’ Salesforce Campground for what Salesforce calls its Customer Trailblazer enabling hands-on access to various “zones” to discover what suits each of them best in intimate theater settings or one-on-one conversations covering Lightning, Einstein, Admin, Developer, IoT, and Trailhead. Add to that a global viewing audience of more than 15 million people including more than 125 Salesforce User Group led viewing parties from all over the globe.
Salesforce has become a pro at theming each Dreamforce, last year’s subject theme featured a Philanthropy Summit and Women & Equality Summit which bolstered one of Salesforce’s coveted core values—equality. This year look for them to extend this with an even larger presence of content, guests, and actionable offerings around equality. Dreamforce also has Salesforce’s 1:1:1 model embedded into it where attendees have daily access to giving-back activities and hands-on volunteer opportunities. Last year, Salesforce set its marks high on raising real money with $3 million dollars) for (RED) and the Global Fund to help create the first AIDS-free generation in Africa. Attendees also packed 2,000 STEM education kits and 2,000 Food=Medicine bags for Project Open Hand during one day of the conference. What other business tech conference can you name that does this?
To round out the offering for music lovers, every Dreamforce in recent memory hosts an evening gala concert called Dreamfest which has effectively extended the philanthropic reach of Dreamforce by raising $10 million each of the past few years going towards “Concert for Kids” which strives for transformative research and compassionate care at USCF children’s hospital. Free to the many thousands of Dreamforce attendees who keep that night’s plans open to see the likes of U2, Foo Fighters, The Killers, Bruno Mars, among others. This year’s concert will be held on November 2nd at the largest venue Salesforce has ever booked, AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.
At the very heart of Dreamforce the word empowerment comes to mind, this is about building a community of customers, partners, students and subject matter experts of every variety and it’s hard not to feel the effort on Salesforce’s part, striving to ensure every attendee, speaker and guest feels like they belong and there’s something in it for each of them. As Salesforce likes to put it, so you can “blaze your trail.”