What Benioff and his team at Salesforce do better than every other tech company at a customer conference is make an emotional connection between the audience and the brand.
The opening 45 minutes of Dreamforce 2013, the annual gathering of Salesforce.com (SFDC) customers and industry influencers, focused less on the product and much more on how SFDC is helping transform the lives of those most in need of help. In many respects, this looked and felt more like the opening of a fundraising event than a software conference — I say "felt" because the message was designed to connect with feelings. The visuals and stories all help people connect to the Salesforce message at a deeply emotional level. The implication: By partnering with SFDC, you really do help change the world. This was a masterclass in marketing and leveraging corporate philanthropy.
Too many companies are so focused on their own growth that they fail to connect to something that really matters in the world: making a difference in the lives of people less fortunate than ourselves. By reinforcing this connection for both customers and employees, Benioff successfully gives a deeper meaning to the hours employees will spend to do their job slightly better each day. It's no wonder that SFDC is one of the most admired companies and a top place to work.