“Now, that’s a company I want to do business with.”

Have you ever been felt so jazzed at an event that you wanted to get more involved?
Perhaps find out about the company, meet the organizers and explore opportunities to partner?

Every year, one of the greatest weekends in South Bay occurs. The first year I experienced this “awesomeness” was in 2005. During the first weekend in August, the International Surf Festival  hosts competitive events involving Bodysurfing Championship, Surf Contest, Lifeguard Competition, Sand Soccer, Paddleboard Race and much more. By far, the most anticipated event is the Charles Saikley Volleyball Tournament, founded in 1957, most popularly called the 6-Man.

The most impressive 6-man/6-woman beach volleyball is performed by AVP players, college pros and wanna be pros. Participants and spectators eat Jello shots and consume an endless supply of alcohol all-day long – disguised in Gatorade bottles and attached to their kips like baby bottles. Each team sports the most ridiculous costume – at the very least one that is uniformed and allows them to bump, dig and spike in. In 2007, I threw my cowboy boots, cowboy hat and a holster and played as one of the cowgirls of the wild wild west. After winning the pool and advancing to semi-finals (Sunday), my body hurt so much I vowed to never compete in the 6-man ever again. The lethal combination of booze and competitive play was too much for my Asian genes.

As reported by Easy Reader – “For the past decade, the tournament’s growth has reached viral proportions, jumping from 2,000 attendees in 1998 to 12,000 attendees in 2002 to 20,000 in 2004, according to the city. In 2010, 60,000 attendees crowded the beach during the Saturday portion of the event and spilled into downtown and residential areas.”

Restaurants, bars, national brands paid $1,000 – covering entry fees – for teams as large as 20 people to sponsor them. It was truly an ideal community tradition for consumers and businesses to participate in.

Reflecting on the event’s compelling draw, I traced back to my own experiences depicting two types of companies:

  1. Companies that tell me why I should do business with them.
  2. Companies that make me want to do business with them.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: Don’t just tell your customers what your company benefits are, find ways to make them WANT to work with you.

The best way I can illustrate this case are from two events I have attended in the past few years. One was a Microsoft Dynamics user conference called Convergence 2011. The other was a Salesforce.com user conference called Dreamforce 2010.

The experiences – intellectually, professionally, emotionally, psychologically – was night and day.

Convergence was held in Atlanta, GA, home of the Coca-Cola Classic and the world’s largest aquarium.
Highlights:

  • Petting a stingray at the museum
  • A photo opp with Coca-Cola polar bear
  • R&D session about the latest product offering in development
  • Listening to experts in social CRM
  • Malcolm Gladwell‘s keynote speech

Lowlights:

  • The sub-par CRM user group booth
  • Receiving weekly emails from vendors post-conference
  • Spotty Internet connection at convention center was awful
  • Beluga whales no-show

It was one of those conferences you walk away from wondering what new insight you gleaned. Some of the Office 365 and social networking discussions were intriguing, however, the uncertainty of our receipt date and the insecurity of our own client delivery date loomed over our heads.

Dreamforce was held in San Francisco, at the Moscone Center in the middle of a bustling city filled with businesses innovating technology.

Highlights:

  • Using Chatter app to register, update my calendar and view the PowerPoint decks post-session
  • Walking through a hands-on session on how to integrate with Outlook from a seasoned professional
  • Jamming to Black Eyed Peas
  • Hugging the friendly ‘No Software’ mascot
  • Wining and dining with salesforce.com team in Santa Monica
  • Keynote speeh from Marc Benioff

Lowlights: Not enough time to chat with amazing, dynamic people

No Software Mascot

The energy, the vibe, the culture was simply magnetic.You walk in the Moscone Center and it doesn’t feel like you are at a conference. There is music pumping, there are pods to relax in and Macs to demo their products.  When you peel back the layers of all the marketing hype, you understand why fans turn into champions. The product is truly what they say it is. There actually does exist a profound network of users across industries –  excited, engaged and learning altogether.

Both brands have consistent marketing and messaging.  Microsoft Dynamics CRM Community Page on Facebook seems sparse, has 697 likes and are at best, informational about random events. (By the way, there are a few pages on Facebook that do not clarify which ‘page’ I should engage in)  The tagline, “Don’t Get Forced. Get What Fits” positions their brand against the leader in the industry, with promises that the CRM will 1) Increase Sales Performance 2) Boost Customer Satisfaction and 3) Improve Marketing Effectiveness.

Meanwhile, the Salesforce.com Facebook Page has over 105,000 likes.  They are giving away a prize to win a free Dreamforce pass and a ride on Virgin America for their user event this fall. Richard Branson, Colin Powell, Tony Robbins and Red Hot Chili Peppers sound about right for a leading social enterprise line-up.

There is a ton of marketing research and case studies on “emotional” marketing and how that plays into brand marketing.  Dynamics CRM consultant Leon Tribe shares his research on the social buzz of Dynamics CRM and Salesforce. Yammer just partnered with Kanjoya who offers sentiment analysis and tracking for businesses’ employees.

It is true that “Microsoft Dynamics CRM is one of the top rated and best-selling CRM systems on the market today,” however, they need to re-position and amplify their marketing efforts to trigger the “I want a piece of that” sentiment in their existing and potential partners and users.

In 2010, my girlfriend Maria and I developed a business plan to sell 6-Man calendars. We started to build a home site where fans shared stories and photos surrounding the event. We hit up local businesses to partner with us and sponsor our calendar. Twelve lucky teams would be featured in the 6-Man 2011 calendar. Players, spectators, party-crashers were going to vote for Most Ridiculous Costume and Most Likely to Win. We weren’t planning to pay our bills with the profits. We just wanted in on the action. We just wanted to seize the opportunity to capitalize on a unique tradition. Although my drinking days are over, and the calendar idea didn’t come to fruition (I blame her surprise pregnancy and the City of Manhattan Beach’s party-pooping enforcements), it simply felt like a ‘company’ we were really excited to partner with.

Brazilian water polo

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