It’s not often that a small Indian software company tries to upstage its bigger U.S. rival, especially at the latter’s annual user and developer conference.

Zoho’s latest marketing campaign, however, set out to do just that when the company gate-crashed Salesforce’s Dreamforce event in San Francisco on Wednesday with pedicabs and food-trucks that advertised Zoho’s push into enterprise software.

With banners that teased ‘Take a test ride with Zoho, Salesforce doesn’t have to know’, Zoho shuttled around hundreds of participants that had travelled from around the world to take a peek at Salesforce’s new strategy.

“We knew there would be a lot of people at the event who would be our audience. As the layout of event was such that people had to walk a lot to reach different sessions, we hired pedicabs (rickshaws) plastered with Zoho banners to take participants around. It was a very positive campaign and one done on minimal budget too,” said Aravind Natarajan, Brand and Marketing Specialist, Zoho.com.

With the hash-tag ‘free-ride’, Zoho was able to reach out to a number of attendees at Dreamforce, an event that was attended by the likes of Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer. It now plans to extend its offline marketing to the online and social media space. Though Zoho is headquartered in the U.S, it has a majority of its employees in Chennai.

Coinciding with Zoho’s campaign was the recent roll-out of new enterprise features to its trademark CRM software, a move that puts the company at direct competition with Salesforce’s offerings.

“We had food-trucks too. The concept was about taking our potential customers for a free ride. There was a lot going on at Dreamforce, even if we were able to make a small ripple in that huge ocean, it would be good,” he said.

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