Salesforce.com employed guerrilla marketing tactics early on. Budding entrepreneurs all over the world have elegant and innovative ideas. However, they struggle with the obstacles they face in their journey to turn their business into a commercial success. Worse still, each one thinks that they are alone in their fights. However, every entrepreneur goes through the same pain points. The story of Salesforce.com provides some valuable lessons that start-ups can learn. Although they are practical, it requires a mindset that embraces a radical approach to doing business. It that departs sharply from the more traditional one. Study them carefully and customize it for your businesses.
Stand out with a purpose
In 2000, at the salesforce.com launch party in San Francisco at the Regency Theatre, what stood out was the theme about waging war against the traditional way of delivering software services. They turned the lowest level of the theater into an inferno with actors locked up inside cages playing captured and frustrated enterprise salespeople. They were screaming, “Help, get me out,” “Sign this million-dollar license agreement. I need to make my quota!” etc. After the more than fifteen hundred attendees had worked their way through this hell, they went to the top floor. The place represented heaven where there was music, light and finally salesforce.com. There they obtain Nirvana.
The End of Software Campaign was the name of the party. On the morning of that day at the Siebel User Group Conference at the Moscone Center Salesforce.com sent hired actors. Their job was to pretend to be TV crew from a local station. They also sent protestors to picket the conference. Every person who went into the meeting were given an invitation to the salesforce.com launch party that night. Although the police arrived immediately, their presence only fanned the flames as the protestors were there legally.
PR Week recognized this End of Software Campaign as the “Hi-Tech Campaign of the Year”. Within two weeks around one thousand organizations signed up for the service. By daring to be different than the conventional way salesforce.com was able to get the much-needed press coverage at nil cost and reach out to the target market which was the end-users rather than the business enterprises and large corporations.
Aim for potential end users
Salesforce’s City Tour Program built Street Teams that got customers selling for the company on a local level. Each City Tour stop had a keynote address. Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce.com, spoke at each event followed by a live demo. There was also some time dedicated for questions.
In every City, the customers were eager to share their stories about their experiences using the software. This City Tour frenzy morphed into a movement. Salesforce.com contacted end-users in advance of the events, and most were eager to participate. Salesforce.com started to post blown up pictures of their customers at events and other marketing materials. Their companies acknowledged these employees’ success since it contributed immensely to the bottom line and they climbed the corporate ladder faster than otherwise would have been possible. Ads started appearing on job sites and soon “implementing salesforce.com” became a differentiating skill that set the candidates apart. It became a skill that employers sought out highly in sales professionals.
Salesforce.com evolves through a process called “intelligent reaction” – a process that involves making minor upgrades every week and constant releases incorporating real-time feedback from the end-users. The phenomenon, as they put it, means going where the business takes them rather than predicting the future trends without any inputs from the customers. It is, in essence, engaging the end-user as an active participant in the evolution of the company. In their early growth, salesforce.com built an online community through forums, blogs and chat sessions that have been emulated by many other companies since then.
Vulture and not venture capital
Raising money at the initial stage of the business evolution was no easy task for salesforce.com. It was an uphill battle. During the frothy dot-com era, Salesforce turned to the venture capitalists (VC) with their cold pitch for investment. When VC after VC turned them down, they turned to the age-old adage of 3F – friends, family, and fools – in other words, vulture-capitalists to raise capital for their start-up. This alternative financing model turned out to be a winning funding strategy that brought the investors exceptional returns in a short time. Subsequently, it attracted a steady stream of potential investors within a very short period. And the VCs regretted their decision not to believe in the company.
The journey of Salesforce thus began with a purpose to do enterprise software differently. By taking advantage of the enormous opportunities of the Internet in an industry known as Cloud Computing that was growing leaps and bounds at that time, Salesforce.com was able to deliver enterprise applications cheaply through a website. It started off in 1999 in a small rented apartment with three developers and a few computers. Ten years later the company morphed into a $1 billion company with a few thousand employees. Salesforce not only managed to survive the dot-com crash of 2001 but also grew to become the world’s largest growing software company in less than a decade.
Lessons for startups
The End of Software type of launch party may not be a possible thing for every start-up company due to many restrictions. Friends and family may not believe in and invest in a concept that resides just in the head of an aspiring business person. But the implication is that by leveraging a guerilla tactic and bringing on board well-wishers an entrepreneur with a can-do-attitude can take the company to soaring heights. The idea is not to copy and paste the ideas illustrated here but to borrow ideas and adapt them with some modifications depending on the nature of the business, the local culture and the needs of the end-users. Uniqueness within the norm is of the essence here.
Photo Credit: Daria Nepriakhina
Live video streaming is critical to brand growth in 2016 and it has really taken off this year in part due to the launch of Facebook Live. Live videos are real time video posts on Facebook and they can be a great way to promote and boost your brand. You can use them to communicate brand stories, to enhance relationships and to share your knowledge and expertise.
People love watching video and Facebook Live lets you connect directly with your friends and followers and to get more interactive with a younger demographic.
Right now the easiest way to broadcast on Facebook Live is using your iOS or Android device from your Facebook page, profile, or group you manage. You can also use your desktop but that’s a little more complex.
How To Use Facebook Live Video
To go Live simply login to Facebook, go to your page and click the publish icon as if you were going to publish a post. From there you click on the red video icon. As you complete this process a couple of pop ups will show up asking you to authorize the app to use the camera and microphone on your device. When you are ready to go live then click on the blue go live button!
Getting Ready to Share Your First Facebook Live Stream
There are a few key things to think about first though:
- Promoting your Live event – tell people in advance that you will be going live. You can use your timelines, other social feeds and Facebook events to do this. Give them plenty of time to put it in their schedule.
- Get ready – prepare your outline and presentation in advance so you know what you will be talking about. Facebook live should seem spontaneous and natural, but that doesn’t mean it should be completely unscripted. Set up your location too. Choose a quiet spot with little background traffic.
- Make sure you have a good connection – video takes up a lot of bandwidth.
When to go Live on Facebook
What time you go Live will depend on your audience. Noon till 3pm is the best time to catch people at work and 6-9pm is optimum otherwise. It’s a great idea to coordinate with a popular event (industry conference) and tap into their event too (as long as you have a good connection there!).
After you are finished, your video is published as a post on your timeline so it is available for those who missed it to watch it later. Your video should be at least 10 minutes long. Broadcasts can last up to 90 minutes.
Below there’s a link to our first SMEI Facebook live event by Gregg Frederick, CSE, principal of G3 Development Group. Gregg used Facebook Live to explain how to use this powerful new social media tool to create engagement around both your personal and business brand.
What’s next with live video, YouTube live is now emerging too so make sure that’s part of your brand strategy for 2017.
Watch our first SMEI Facebook Live video on our Facebook feed.
The Art of Leadership for Women rolled into Vancouver last week featuring 5 speakers with very different styles and messaging with a common thread : the theme of leadership. Here are the highlights.
Dr. Seonaid Charlesworth – Vice President, Executive Assessment & Succession at Lee Hecht Harrison Knightsbridge
“Intuitive thinking is good but not good enough. You can improve the accuracy of decisions you make by asking 3 simple questions”.
- What is it that you want? – you have to be clear on this.
- What is the story you are telling yourself – is it real?
- When will you decide? Set a date – most bad decisions are as a result of putting things off.
Danielle Laporte – Author, Motivational Speaker, Blogger and Entrepreneur
“Leadership is lonely – you have to go against the grain”.
- Know what you are devoted to – it could be something really simple!
- Be true to yourself – be yourself.
- Don’t be embarrassed by your passion.
- Say thank you 108 times a day.
- Be radiant with your power.
- Compassion is a strategy.
Diana Nyad – Record Breaking Endurance Athlete
At age 64 Diane swam from Cuba to Florida (110 miles through jelly fish infested water swimming against currents and winds). It was her 5th attempt and something she had dreamed of doing since she was a kid. Her message: Don’t Quit!
“When you achieve your dreams it’s not about what you get but what you become.”
Geena Davis – Academy Award Winning Actress and Founder of the Geena Davis Institute of Women in Media
Film and TV images shape our cultural norms. Women are perceived as less important and less talented in part because of media images. The world is 51% female and yet in the media there are 3 male characters for every one woman. Women can achieve parity but at this rate it’ll take us another 70 years! Geena is on a crusade to change how Hollywood portrays women in order to speed that up. The number of girls taking up archery shot up after Brave and The Hunger Games. Positive and empowering images of women in the media will influence girls to dream bigger and achieve more.
Amy Cuddy – Game Changer – TED Talker – Social Psychologist
How to manage self doubt and anxiety in stressful situations. It’s not about faking knowledge, you need to be present. We become present by becoming powerful. Power leads to presence. When we feel powerful, we expand. When we feel powerless, we shrink. Raise you daughters to take up space to stand up tall and proud (no slouching!). It’s not what you say it’s how you say it.
This weekend, some of our clocks in the northern hemisphere will fall back one hour. Do you ever have those day dreamy moments when you wish you could really fall back in time to “the way it was?” I was walking through a Starbucks on one of my travel adventures and really noticed the signs above the retail packs of coffee beans. Here are some: Citrus and floral notes; Rich cocoa taste; and Gentle spices. Imagine, this can all happen within a single cup!
As I walked back to my hotel, there was time to ponder this marvel of the modern highfalutin sensory appeal of today’s coffee marketing. Then, like my mind is want to do, it fell back a few years, well quite a few, to the days when I patronized Mom’s kitchen in our Canadian prairie farm house.
Do you remember the glass Pyrex coffee percolator that on occasion sat on the stove top burner? I do, and it brings back vivid memories of the sound of the bubbles first making their way up the inner shaft and watching the first drops of heated water make their way to the ground coffee in the filter basket. It was a marvel to watch, and it took time, lots of it as the water graduated from clear to deepening shades of toffee brown. Mom’s coffee never got darker than a translucent brew.
The process was ceremonial without standing on ceremony. First, the metal can of Nabob ground coffee beans would appear, the lid was pried off with a spoon and the aromatic whiff of trapped coffee escaped. Then the rattling, hissing, bubbling of the percolator, followed by coffee and conversation.
It really was a ceremony. I don’t ever recall having coffee unless we had guests in the house, and never for breakfast. It was usually only delivered after dinner. It never occurred to me that it could be a daily beverage to crave, or one that could deliver a downer headache when the body is deprived.
Never did we stretch our imagination to think of naming our brew after exotic far away places or describing its lingering after taste with fruity monikers. Nor could we have imagined paying more for a cup of joe than what in those days would have been an hour’s wages.
The most exotic thing about the can of coffee was the turban clad Nabob painted on the label. We had never seen a coffee bean, roasted or green and really didn’t know where they came from. It was kind of like a city kid thinking milk comes from a bottle.
Today we have a Swiss Jura machine in our kitchen that retails for more than the value of my first car. (We didn’t buy it, it came as a grand prize for winning an online contest with Canada Post.) At the touch of a button we can have a rich European style coffee, espresso or cafe machiatto. Within less than a minute the beans are ground and the coffee dispensed all based on predefined settings that are customized in the on board computer.
We can dispense our brew into a travel mug as we haste towards the garage door, pop the mug into a cup holder in the console and imbibe while rushing the kids to school or scurrying for the day’s first appointment. No time to think about citrus or floral notes, we’re busy mentally ticking off the overflowing to-do list or mind-drafting responses to a couple hundred emails waiting in the in-box.
So where did my Mother put that old glass pyrex perc? I’d love to bring it back to the stove top and just sit in the kitchen and start a slow down ritual. Maybe if I polish the Jura just right, the Nabob genie will pop out and grant me my wish!
“Please power down anything with an on/off button” will become a phrase of the past as part of the commercial flying routine – in a new development that actually improves passenger experience.
The Federal Aviation Administration is changing the 50-year-old safety regulation to allow air travelers to use their electronic devices from gate-to-gate, the agency said in a press release today.
This announcement comes one month after an investigatory panel officially recommended that passengers be allowed to use personal devices at any point during a flight. Flyers will now be able to read their e-books, listen to their MP3s, watch their videos and play their games without pesky interruption. Short-range Bluetooth devices, such as wireless keyboards, will be permitted as well.
Aviation experts have said that today’s most popular devices use so little power that they’re unable to interfere with a plane’s aeronautics, and modern jets are packed with electronic systems certified to withstand interference.
“Most planes can handle radio interference,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta in a statement today. He added that, in low visibility, a mere one percent of flights may not be able to tolerate interference, in which passengers will be asked to switch off electronics.
FCC regulations still prohibit any airborne calls, so cell phones and tablets will need to be switched to “airplane mode,” meaning no signal bars are displayed. This means passengers still won’t be able to stream videos, exchange emails, texts or download data, unless an on-board Wifi connection is available.
During takeoff and landing, passengers will need to either stow their devices or hold them in their hands, meaning the use of seatback trays will still be prohibited during this time. Flight attendants and safety advocates have expressed concerns that laptops and tablets could turn into dangerous projectiles if a flight encounters turbulence while landing or if a pilot brakes suddenly during takeoff.
Timing is up to the airlines, which are required to submit a plan to the FAA to manage electronics. This will include new training for flight attendants. Current FAA regulations require an aircraft operator to determine that radio frequency interference from personal electronic devices is not a flight safety risk before the operator authorizes them for use during certain phases of flight. Even devices that do not intentionally transmit signals can emit unintentional radio energy.
The FAA said in a release that it expects airlines to allow the use of devices during all phases of air travel by the end of 2013, but passengers may be granted the privilege even sooner. Delta has already submitted a plan, saying it’s ready to allow use as early as tomorrow (Nov.1). Delta aircrafts have completed the required PED tolerance testing.
Prior to the change in regulations, as many as 30 percent of passengers admitted they’d accidentally left a device on during takeoff or landing, according to studies by the Airline Passenger Experience Association and the Consumer Electronics Association. Pilots have been using iPads in the cockpit for years, and Delta flight attendants use Nokia Lumia 820s for credit card transactions.
As SMEI celebrates it’s 78th anniversary, we reflect on the rich legacy of the worldwide professional association for sales and marketing. We’ve come a long way since the late 1880s, when sales and marketing was not popularly considered to be an attractive career or a profession. Many in the business, seeing the need for professional recognition based on sound standards and ethical practices, created Sales Managers’ Clubs. First started in the 1880s in North America, they gradually spread throughout Europe, Australian, South American and the Pacific Rim.
From them emerged SMEI. In 1935, IBM Founder Thomas Watson Sr.; Raymond Bill, founder of
SMEI’s 78th Birthday Cake
Sales and Marketing Management Magazine, and other visionaries invited the presidents of many Sales Managers’ Clubs to New York City to discuss forming a network of sales and marketing executives. The result was the National Federation of Sales Executives, the first of several names for SMEI.
This month, SMEI celebrated 78 years on stage with a special “birthday cake” in front of a packed house at the Sales 2.0 Sales Management Performance Conference held in San Francisco. “I joined SMEI when I arrived in the US from Austria,” said Gerhard Gschwandtner, publisher of Selling Power. “I have enjoyed the resources that SMEI provides for many years,” he continued.
When I first joined SMEI as a member in the mid-1990’s it was easy to count the countries where SMEI has a presence. Today, it is easier to count the countries where SMEI is not represented, signifying the reality of SMEI’s strategic vision to bring professional certification and membership to developed and developing countries around the world.
The success of SMEI is due to thousands of hours of volunteer leadership from committees, affiliates and the international community of sales and marketing professionals. But ask any leader and they will tell you one year of volunteer effort goes by very fast, and 78 isn’t a long time when you’re talking about establishing an enduring legacy.