PR and Events 101 for SaaS (Takeaways from Dreamforce)

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Marketers today are all about data. They hypothesize, test, analyze and do it all over again. The scientific method has served us well, helping us focus your energy on campaigns with the greatest impact.

Unfortunately, public relations and events are much harder to measure. Whats more, they create a dent in your marketing budget if you want to do them right, which makes it even harder to calculate the ROI.

Regardless, PR and event marketing is a must have on your SaaS marketing plate. It’s great for branding, builds awareness, relationships, potential customers, partnerships and positioning. What better place to witness the fruits of PR and events than Dreamforce? No longer merely an expo and conference, brands are capitalizing on the week of hype with some of the most outrageous and bizarre marketing ideas and parties, from roller disco to bowling, shooting money into the air to sidewalk graffiti with chalk.

Here’s how to approach your PR and events strategy:


1. You don’t have to have a massive budget.

It’s true that some events could cost you a shiny penny to produce, especially after seeing the insane production that goes into the parties at Dreamforce. But it’s still possible to produce smaller scale events on a tight budget. Consider partnering with a bigger brand name who can co-sponsor, or have your event in-house to reduce costs. Buy only the basic wine and beer and maybe a few snacks like potato chips or a veggie platter. Have a donation jar at registration with a suggested value. If your event has an awesome concept and is free, you’re sure to attract a crowd. Keep it simple, your guests simply want to have a good time.

2. Get your guerrilla marketing on.

Happy hours are great (who doesn’t love a happy hour?), but you can always get a little more creative. I’ve seen flyers posing as folded dollar bills carelessly dropped on the floor, gifts left outside of attendee hotel room doors, sponsored pedicabs, branded popsicles and cupcakes, party crashing a competitor in funny costumes, napkins with kiss marks and a phone number, and the list goes on. Let your imagination run wild and try something a little crazier than last time. You’ll surely get noticed, or in trouble.

3. Tell a story, don’t sell.

When it comes to PR, it’s boring to talk about your product. Unless you have a magical eternal youth serum or the solution to global warming, most products aren’t that intriguing to read about let alone write about. Journalists won’t pick up your story if you are only pitching your product, that’s why you buy advertising space. Pitch stories that have to do with your people, like your founders and investors, how your head of engineering is planning to onboard 10 engineers in 10 days, how your company made it their mission to hire diverse talent, why you refused to have apple products in the office, and so on. Think about what kind of stories you read and share online, try to be authentic and genuine and tell a story rather than sell a product.

by Veronica French @veronicafrenchy

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