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Living the Dreamforce 13

By Martin Kihn | November 22, 2013 | 0 Comments

Dreamforce 13 #DF13 wrapped up today in the City by the Bay, and the spirit of onetime San Francisco denizen Dashiell Hammett hovered over the rain-spattered throughways of the Mosconi Center, thronged with over one hundred thousand coders and marketers and geeks and, yes, dreamers. For Hammett wrote, some eighty years ago in this same city:

“The problem with putting two and two together is that sometimes you get four, and sometimes you get twenty-two.”

Which is hard to argue. After fraying Green Day’s sound system Tuesday night — which didn’t stop the neo-punks, even for a bleat, — the rain relented today and the sun went public, as though inspired by the “unconventional thinkers” Salesforce.com’s unconventional CEO, Marc Benioff, brought in to pace on the hanger-like keynote stage: Deepak Chopra and Dr. Wayne Dyer.

Dyer made a poignant point. Nodding toward Benioff from his perch on a black leather club chair center-stage, the PBS mainstay said: “This whole company — Salesforce — started as an idea.” He quoted Thoreau:

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”

On Tuesday, Salesforce’s VP of Strategy, John Taschek, asked me where I thought digital marketing was going. It’s a wide question, wider than the mighty Silicon Valley. As an answer, I’ll share three themes that emerged from the caverns of the convention.

  1. From Transactions to Relationships — The point was made by Scott Dorsey, co-founder of ExactTarget, which Salesforce.com acquired last June and has already largely integrated into its (renamed) Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud. “Organizations are moving from transaction-based relationships with their customers to relationship-based transactions,” he said, adding that relationships themselves have become a kind of “currency.” Requirements placed on marketers to acquire, retain and act on a deeper customer data set are steep, but the payoff is a higher lifetime value.
  2. From Third-Party to First-Party Data — Speaking of data, we’re in the midst of a massive injection of first-party data into marketing and advertising to an extent that was not possible until recently, and still isn’t easy. CRM profiles, site behaviors and transaction records (aka, “first-party”) are a company’s most valuable information assets, and exchanges such as Facebook’s FBX and data-management platforms such as [x+1] and Blue Kai allow marketers to use it to target advertising messages. It’s just beginning. “Marketers realized that first-party data works,” said Brian Andersen of LUMA Partners investment bank. “That’s why we’re seeing a surge of interest in data management platforms [DMP’s].”
  3. From Obvious to Non-Obvious Sources of Data — Dr. Wayne Dyer dwelled on the serendipity of life, how seemingly random events can unfold in retrospect as part of an ingenious plan. Scott Dorsey said that predictive models (another #DF13 trending topic) can be improved when they incorporate data that aren’t traditionally part of the marketing mix. The example he offered was weather, but he could have cited sunspots, celebrities or social memes. Successful marketers increasingly are going to be those who find inspiration where others aren’t even looking.

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