The Dreamforce marathon is coming to a close. My mind is filled with new ideas and insights to put into action when I get back to work and my entire body is sore from running around from place to place (someone please rent out Massage Envy next year so we can have a brief respite from the chaos!).
It has been three full days of sessions, lounges, expo halls, and parties, and I am ready to reflect! Well, on day three anyway. And if you haven’t read our day one and two recap, be sure to check it out!
The Rise of the Connected Customer
During the highly anticipated Marketing Cloud keynote, Scott McCorkle, CEO of the Marketing Cloud, opened by discussing the changing marketing landscape. It is no secret that your buyers are always connected and always on—in fact, your customers are truly the ones in control of their own journey. Scott states that someone in your organization needs to lead the transformation in order to understand and sell in this new customer paradigm–it is the marketer that has to lead this charge.
Because our buyers are constantly connected—living between channels and devices—it becomes the job of the marketer to be everywhere. McCorkle mentions three ways that illustrate how modern marketers should approach marketing today–three P’s if you will:
- Precise: The concept of “precision” came up a lot at Dreamforce this year. By using the vast amounts of data that we as marketers collect, we can be much more precise in how we speak to our customers. Data enables us to truly understand who our buyers are—on a deep level—by tracking their behaviors across channels and devices. By using this data, marketers can create deeper relationships and make more informed decisions. And, the concept of precision plays nicely into predictive marketing—using the data that you have about your best customers to determine not who to target with your messaging and marketing strategy.
- Personal: You need to have personalized and relevant conversations with your customers. No longer can you use batch-and-blast messaging. Buyers expect you to know them and communicate in a highly personalized way. Today’s technology allows you to create customized experiences with each and every customer—enabling you to create a true, growing relationship over time.
- Pervasive: Your customers are everywhere. And you need to be everywhere. Whether a customer is on her computer, mobile device, watch, or a car, she should have a seamless experience with your brand. If you meet a customer at an in-person event, you should continue that conversation on all of the channels and devices she frequents. Be everywhere your customers are.
There is No “I” in Leader
After the keynote, I dropped by InsideView’s Open Lounge to see Heidi Bullock, Marketo’s VP of Demand Gen speak about leadership. Full disclosure—I worked with Heidi at Marketo for years and she has been a fantastic role model for leadership—so I had to see her session.
Heidi opened by stating that great leaders focus on making others better by helping them be the heroes in your organization. Being a great leader is more than just making decisions, it is about inspiring your team and enabling them to understand the “why” of any goal or ask—not just the “what”. It is the “why” that provides that inspiration and drives teams to succeed.
What I loved about Heidi’s session is that she broke up her leadership philosophy into 10 easy tips that any new or seasoned leader can learn from:
- Hire the best people, patiently. There is nothing more expensive than a bad hire.
- Invest most of your management time in your stars—know when you are investing time in people who aren’t willing to grow in their roles.
- Look in the mirror to account for mistakes and out the window to assign credit.
- Be self aware—your shadow is larger than you think.
- The humble leader wins in the medium and long-term.
- Ruthlessly focus on priorities.
- What gets measured gets done.
- Dare to actually care about people.
- A simple and sincere thank you goes a long way.
- You are a coach to your department and a player among your group and team.
From Idea to IPO
Next up, I went to the panel session, From Idea to IPO, which featured our very own Vincent Yang, CEO of EverString! The other panel members included Jon Miller, Founder of Engagio and Co-Founder of Marketo, James Cham, Partner at Bloomberg Beta, Jason Jue, CMO at Triblio, and Robi Ganguly, CEO of Apptentive.
The session was more of an open forum where the audience and moderator could both ask the panelists questions about creating a successful startup. There was a lot of interesting commentary in this session, so it was tough to choose what to write about, but here are some of the questions and answers I found particularly intriguing:
Q: How did you get your idea and how important is it to go after something new and unique?
A: EverString: For Vincent, his grand vision was to bring artificial intelligence to companies in order to help them make data-driven decisions. He tried to find a space that was new, untouched. He mentioned the concept of finding the “blue ocean”—a fresh idea that no one had thought of yet. But that turned out not to be the best approach. Instead, he thought—why not turn a red ocean into a blue ocean? The “red ocean” being a space that has some competitors, but no true leader yet. So, Vincent set out to create a product in the predictive marketing space, but to do it bigger and better than the competition.
A: Engagio: Jon spoke of a similar approach. When he co-founded Marketo, there were a couple of existing marketing automation platforms. Because these platforms had already paved the way, there was less need to educate the audience. Instead, Jon set out to make a better product with the right positioning against a competitor big enough to define the market, but small enough to beat.
Q: If you want to start a company, when do you know it’s the right time?
A: EverString: For Vincent, it was a pain in his previous role in investing that led him to the concept behind EverString’s predictive platform. His role was to cold call companies and see if they were a right fit for investing, but he struggled to call the right companies. Leveraging his background in mathematics, he built a prototype using data science that analyzed websites and company data to predict what companies to focus on. Very soon, his performance skyrocketed and he was turning in 27 term sheets at the end of each quarter. At that point, he decided that he had something special and started EverString.
A: Apptentive: For Robi, he had a 10 year plan. He knew that after 10 years he wanted to start his own company. He joined Yahoo and spent time learning about running different aspects of a business, and once 10 years hit, he gave his notice to Yahoo. He knew it was time to stop working for other people and to create something of his own.
Certainly some great takeaways about customers, leadership, and innovation. And Dreamforce still has one more day to go! If you haven’t yet, be sure to stop by EverString’s booth N1044 in Moscone North!