How to Take On Dreamforce 2015 [Expert Interview]


Meet Suzy Matus.

Today’s expert joins us to share her advice on a very important and relevant topic: events — and more specifically, Dreamforce. If you’re planning to join the wonderful madness that is Dreamforce on September 15th, you can’t afford to miss Suzy’s advice for getting the most out of this incredible opportunity to connect with your peers and get the most out of your investment — as an attendee or as a sponsor.

To learn more about our summer camp content series, please click here.

Alright, Suzy…

Tell us a little bit about your background here at Pardot.

I’ve been with Pardot for about three years now — I was actually brought on board to begin a whole new events program, and migrated into handling our overall event strategy as well as some of our customer stories, case studies, and relationships. Now I manage our customer engagement and customer marketing program.

So this is your third Dreamforce with us, and I know over the past couple of years I’ve come to think of you as my go-to person for all things Dreamforce. Lay it on us — how can attendees get the most out of DF15?

If you’ve been to Dreamforce before, you know that it’s absolute madness (in a good way). First of all, don’t be overwhelmed — and try to prevent becoming overwhelmed by doing your research ahead of time. Visit the Dreamforce website, go into the Dreamforce Success Community, and connect with other people who are attending.

It’s particularly important to check out the session schedule, and identify what you think would be a good fit for you before you even get on site. You don’t have to necessarily plan out your whole schedule, but if you’ve got two or three sessions a day that you’re targeting and you can sign up on Agenda Builder, that will be a huge help. Actually, I’d suggest that when you’re planning you expand it to five or six sessions, because Agenda Builder fills up really fast — you’re literally competing with thousands of people getting on there and trying to sign up for sessions ahead of time.

To that point, if there’s a Dreamforce session that you really want to go to but it’s full on Agenda Builder, go early. Some seats are reserved for on-site, so show up to the room early and get in line, even if you’re not registered. But have some back-ups and rank your choices. Make sure that you prioritize the sessions or the information that you want to get so you can see the most value from your week.

[Editor’s note: for specific information on what we’ll be talking about in Pardot sessions this year, stay tuned to the Pardot blog! Over the next eight weeks we’ll be providing an inside look at all things #PardotDF15! You can also join the B2B Marketers at Dreamforce Success Community to learn more about what’s being offered for B2B marketers like yourselves!]

That’s great advice. Anything else? I know it sounds like common sense but some of the little tips you gave our staff last year really did end up being lifesavers. Want to share?

Sure! Okay, my survival tips:

  • Bring a water bottle, or fill up the one that you’re given, and don’t forget to drink it. You will need it, trust me.
  • Wear comfortable shoes to walk around in. The Dreamforce campus is really large, and even if you’re sitting in on lots of sessions, you will spend a large amount of the day on your feet.
  • Pack a snack or two that you can grab on the run.
  • Don’t try to do everything the first couple of days — you can wear yourself out. Particularly if you’re interested in the learning about specific products in the campground, you’ll find that they’re actually a little slower at the end of the day on Thursday and all day Friday, so it might make sense to spread things out and plan a visit then.
  • Download the app. It’s really great for on-the-go information.
  • Use success communities to connect with people that have similar interests. If there are people you want to meet, set up specific times and places to meet ahead of time — don’t count on running into them, because it probably won’t happen.
  • If you have multiple people from your company going, divide and conquer the sessions. There’s so much valuable content, and one person can only do so much!

Let’s step over to the marketing side of things. What advice would you give to marketers who will have a booth at Dreamforce, and are trying to cut through the noise to reach as many people as possible?

Thinking outside of the box is key, obviously — there are so many people there, so many brands, so many people competing for mindshare. But beyond that, the follow up. Make sure you’re going in with a really strong plan for follow up. Not necessarily just email either — think about other ways attendees can interact with your business once they go back to their work on Monday and are digesting the week. They’re going to go back and try to think about all the tactical things they can do based on what they learned, so any way you can make that easier on them will be helpful. It can be as simple as posting a blog post with your top ten takeaways from the week.

How does marketing automation tie into your event strategy?

So for us, marketing automation has been huge when it comes to follow up. We were able to feel prepared before we even got on site. Knowing what kinds of sessions we were running and what we were promoting at our booth and in various areas, as well as the themes of the information we were trying to put out there, allowed us to build campaigns that aligned with that and make sure we were following up in a really personalized way. So we weren’t sending anyone the wrong information; they were getting follow up that was tailored to their particular interests.

And then, pre-event, you can start communicating information through drip programs on where you’re going to be, what you’ll be talking about, can’t-miss sessions, etc. It’s always great to have that kind of information when you’re an attendee. Particularly when you’re going into an event as large as Dreamforce, which can easily get overwhelming, that kind of direction is always great.

[Editor’s note: Check out the assets at the bottom of this post for more tips on using marketing automation at events.]

Any trends you’ve started to notice? Creative ways in which marketers are making their brands stand out in large trade shows like Dreamforce?

One of the most interesting tactics that I’ve started to see recently is taking a philanthropic approach to driving traffic to your booth — regardless of whether or not your product relates to the charity. There’s this whole new focus on giving back, and aligning what you’re doing with a larger cause. So, for example, creating a hashtag and saying that every time it’s used you’ll donate a dollar to a specific charity.

Yeah, I’ve seen this type of thing, too, lately. I think it’s really cool and, for me, it definitely creates a compelling reason to go check out a booth or product.

Well, that seems like a good segway into the fun portion of this interview. Favorite Dreamforce moment — go.

This sounds a little corny, but I think my favorite Dreamforce moment is still the first time that I walked into the campground at my very first Dreamforce. I looked around at all the conversations happening and it just hit me that I was surrounded by SO many people who were all there for the same reason and had the same interests as I did. It was just amazing to me that there was a community that large, and all in one place.

Ok final question, if you could see any performer at Dreamforce 2016—

Britney. Hands down, Britney.

Didn’t even have to finish that question. Alright, fair enough! Thanks for your time Suzy, and don’t forget to check back for our next Summer Camp series post!


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