Cloud must go on… indeed. The question is who will benefit the most by building facebook-like platform for companies. The game is on and the players do mean business :-)

Two of these players are Oracle in the 90s corner weighing 145 billion and salesforce.com in the 2000s corner weighing 15 billion. In the area of PR and rainmaking salesforce beats Oracle… since I can remember.

Maybe you’ve heard the latest news – Larry cancelled Marc’s keynote during Oracle OpenWorld Conference. So Marc invited people to hear his speech at AME Restaurant at the St. Regis Hotel, San Francisco (as I learned on Salesforce.com fanpage – they really do read it and comment back! Cool).

What a gift from Larry to Marc! As one of the facebook commenters said: keynote at OOW11 – $1 mln USD, publicity regarding the keynote cancellation – priceless. On the other hand – what Oracle were thinking inviting salesforce to OOW11 in the first place? Knowing Marc they should have known he’d turn it into a publicity stunt one way or another.

Latest Q&A session in the restaurant info:

  • Marc is expecting his $1 mln USD back from Oracle (that’s how much his keynote at OOW11 was suppose to cost).
  • Larry was one of the first investors in salesforce.com. Marc doesn’t know if he keeps it but for Larry’s sake hopes he does because it’s supposed to go nowhere but up.
  • Marc: “You can cancel keynotes but you cannot stop innovation
  • Marc: “This decision shines on their brand because a brand is a sum of memories. This decision becomes a part of history of Oracle, history of salesforce, history of the industry. It shows the style of leadership Oracle has – not modern, that’s for sure. Command-and-control, off-with-their-head management. The marketing tactic for Oracle should have been – we’ve listened to the social media, customers, the people, rethought the matter and Marc is back on with his keynote. I suggested that to their CMO. They didn’t think it’s a good idea. And yes, we had to deliver our slides to them prior to the event so they knew exactly what we wanted to say.” Perhaps that’s why they cancelled? ;-)
  • Marc: “If I’m going to present at OOW12? It’s up to Larry I guess. Dreamforce is bigger then OOW so we don’t need it anyway.”

BTW I wouldn’t know that if I wasn’t following salesforce facebook fanpage and if I didn’t tune in to live webcast on time. And I’m based in Europe so it’s after hours for me. Dunno what OOW11 was about, I didn’t really follow it. Larry vs. Marc – 0:1.

Back to Marc and Larry story…

As you might know prior to founding salesforce.com, Marc was at Oracle for 13 years in a variety of executive positions in sales, marketing, and product development. At 23, he was named Oracle’s Rookie of the Year and three years later he was promoted to vice president, the company’s youngest person to hold that title. And now he’s seen by Larry as irritant at least and some say – one of the most threatening challengers? Life’s little ironies…

This exchange of pleasantries between the two gentelman has been going on for some time now. Check out the classic Larry rant from 2009 and he’s turnaround in 2010 (still advertising mainframes). The part starting at 1 minut 10 secs is a must see ROTFL.

Anyway – you have to appreciate the way Marc does his rainmaking. He goes around the world evangelizing clients, distributors, developers, media people. He uses techniques that seem from-the-future compared to what others are doing. The fact is salesforce.com is still 10 times smaller then Oracle but with that growth rate – for how long?

Let’s take a look at Marc’s rainmaking techniques:

1. Metaphors based on current events and market data

How to grow your company if you’re creating a market which doesn’t exist and corpo bosses say “we don’t need that consumer mumbo jumbo – it’s neither safe nor effective”? Use colorful metaphors to world changing events or eye-opening market data! Talk to their imagination using processes they understand and cannot deny.

Take Mubarak and north african repressive regimes and compare them to corporate top management not understanding the Social media and the Social Enterprise revolution. Take Arab Spring and predict Corporate Spring!

Create the phrase ‘social divide’ for disconnect between consumer communications tools and corporate ones – divide between socially savvy customers and employees and the employers that lag behind. Tell corpo bosses that “You either use our product or you’re going down! Your own people will take you down like the Arabs did with Mubarak.” A bit of a stretch? Maybe, but gets the message across. Particularly when you entice some spontaneous riots of working people demanding SFDC, like yesterday.

Also – compare yourself to Facebook dominating in the consumer space. Show the world how “Facebook is eating the web” like the monster-success that it is – another metaphor. Not really true everywhere in the world, not completely true since we’re going off web to mobile and so on. But the analogy is there and it’s working for your benefit.

Oh, and use trendy keywords a lot – mobile, social, collaboration and of course cloud. Higher level of trust. Don’t forget democracy :) cause it’s good for everything…. And people are demanding it… as seen in evidence at hand!

2. Good slides and presentation team

While you’re throwing metaphors at people back them up with good infographics to fire up the crowd’s imagination.

Social divide? There you go:

Facebook eating Web? Here it is:

Make sure you have your people playing the right presentations on high-tech presentation equipment – image is everything. Also present your historical growth data in a time series from zero in the prehistoric era to 2015 (*forcast) so it looks like a hockey stick. A little of 3D chart magic doesn’t hurt to make the growth seem even more impressive. Also have your off-the-bench energetic marketing excecutive to explain the product details so you don’t have to. You’re a visionary, not a marketing person!

3. Allies and enemies as reference points

While creating a new balance of power you have to surround yourself with significant allies and even more significant opposition.

The dream-team combination of friends and villains would be:

Apple, Google, Facebook – sexy and powerful
vs
Microsoft, Oracle, SAP – not so much

Invite your allies’ CIOs to presentations, invite your allied CEOs to keynote and to discussion panels to build your own business off their success. Mock your opposition as old fashioned and irrelevant in the brave new world you’re creating. Once the story catches up it becomes a self-perpetuating, self-fulfilling prophecy.

4. Conservative client’s testimonials

Case studies of well known and reputable clients are the key to propaganda success. The more conservative the client the better. Like Burberry – old British brand which has a strong, independent CEO who isn’t afraid of speaking her mind honestly even at Dreamforce (what do you mean we’re not your only option?).

Sometimes you have to make your point with European brands not so known in the US – like KLM. Just add an industry (airlines) and market cap (24 billion). Maybe US airlines will get a hint.

Don’t forget to let your clients show their vision and business, let them explain how salesforce fits their goals and helps them grow and fulfill end-customers’ expectations. They’re successful and you’re just helping.

5. Excitement and attitude

No matter what (when forgot something, misplaced slidechanger, made the audience laught at you) – always keep on talking with confidence and passion. This is marketing gddmitt! It’s not accounting! You don’t have to be right every time, just speak really loud.

You might be exaggerating from time to time but it’s a choice you made to get your message across.

In case of any PR fail like insulting someone important (like Larry – bad for business!) – bring your mother to a restaurant press conference the next day to show how sensitive you really are and make a joke on promising to be good in the future. Make the promise to your mother, you wouldn’t lie to your mother, would you?

6. This is America, gddmit! They took’urrrr jobs!

It’s always good mention the need to revitalize US-based manufacturing. “We can have the best military in the world but not manufacturing? I don’t get that!” From time to time it’s good to make fun of Europeans (their boring Safe Harbor stuff – oh, wait, people in Europe watching this? it’s not boring, it’s a public company stuff, right? no, it isn’t).

Anyway…

Hats off for Marc. He can make the rain come down.

And it’s all planned, rehearsed, adjusted,  rehearsed again and executed well enough to get the job done. But looks easy and natural. That’s how it’s done. They don’t teach that in business school.

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