Mark Zablan, President of Adobe EMEA, on Marketing Reinvention & Adobe Summit

Adobe Sum­mit is just days away (May 14–15, 2014) and the excite­ment is building!

Over the past days and weeks we have had the plea­sure of chat­ting to some of the speak­ers in advance of Sum­mit, such as: Justin (JC) Cogh­lan, Movem­ber; David Williams, ASOS; Michael Acton Smith, Mind Can­dy; Dr David Cox, Head­space; Will Hay­ward, Buz­zfeed; and Amber Ather­ton, My Flash Trash. Final­is­ing this series, we caught up with Mark Zablan, pres­i­dent of Adobe for Europe, Mid­dle East and Africa (EMEA) about mar­ket­ing rein­ven­tion — which will be a big theme at Sum­mit — what this means for mar­keters and for him personally.

As head of Adobe EMEA, you talk to mar­keters every day about their needs for rein­ven­tion. What are mar­keters’ biggest chal­lenges in mak­ing this transition?

Zablan: The cus­tomer jour­ney has shift­ed so dra­mat­i­cal­ly com­pared to where it was just a few years ago—marketers’ chal­lenges are tru­ly end­less. The good news is that as an indus­try, we’re rec­og­niz­ing the need for rein­ven­tion and dis­cussing it as a com­mu­ni­ty. It’s now just a mat­ter of tak­ing the plunge and mak­ing key changes across the peo­ple, process­es and prod­ucts in your organisation.

Today, no mat­ter what the cus­tomer is doing, whether online or off, they are leav­ing a foot­print. And the abil­i­ty for brands to get to know their con­sumers through one uni­fied view, to grasp one set of ana­lyt­ics, and for mar­ket­ing tech­nolo­gies to seam­less­ly inte­grate to exist­ing lega­cy systems—these are major chal­lenges that Adobe is help­ing to solve.

In regard to con­tent, I’m hear­ing mar­keters strug­gle with the rein­ven­tion of their sto­ry­telling process, and how they can get a con­sis­tent, engag­ing mes­sage in front of con­sumers no mat­ter where they are. This in turn impacts the rein­ven­tion of a brand—taking your com­pa­ny from an old­er, more tra­di­tion­al mar­ket­ing house to one that’s active­ly lis­ten­ing to con­sumer con­ver­sa­tions, engag­ing with them in real-time, and effec­tive­ly build­ing a brand per­son­al­i­ty that cre­ates true impact in their lives.

And mar­keters, as indi­vid­u­als, also need to under­go reinvention—and we’re find­ing that the indi­vid­ual rein­ven­tion is one of the hard­est. It takes a true com­mit­ment to edu­ca­tion, risk tak­ing and step­ping out­side one’s com­fort zone to kick off the mar­keters’ journey.

Mobile, wear­able tech, beacons…How do you see the dig­i­tal and phys­i­cal world con­verg­ing in the future, and what will that mean for marketers?

Zablan: It’s easy (and fun) to get caught up in the buzz of these new tech­nolo­gies, but when we get down to brass tacks, iBea­cons, wear­able tech, etc. become just anoth­er chan­nel for brands to engage with consumers.

The pos­si­bil­i­ties that iBea­cons bring are cer­tain­ly exciting—the abil­i­ty for any brand to hyper-tar­get a con­sumer as they’re inside a store and gath­er detailed ana­lyt­ics is fas­ci­nat­ing. Even from an oper­a­tions per­spec­tive, retail­ers can help under­stand, for exam­ple, where to allo­cate staff on the store floor dur­ing busy hours. But sophis­ti­ca­tion among these new tech­nolo­gies will still be key. iBea­cons won’t help a brand if the mar­ket­ing orga­ni­za­tion can­not for­mal­ize an effec­tive mobile mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy. This hyper-tar­get­ed expe­ri­ence also won’t be suc­cess­ful if the mes­sag­ing is too per­son­al or cross­es the pri­va­cy line. Indeed while mar­ket­ing is being rein­vent­ed by these intrigu­ing new chan­nels, con­tin­u­ing to under­stand the cus­tomer jour­ney and hav­ing the right tech­nol­o­gy in place to col­lect data and influ­ence mar­ket­ing strate­gies will con­tin­ue to be keys to suc­cess in the rein­ven­tion of marketing.

Sum­mit EMEA is all about rein­ven­tion. In what ways are you per­son­al­ly approach­ing reinvention—both at home and for Adobe?

Zablan: As an Amer­i­can liv­ing in Europe for the past 5 years, rein­vent­ing the ways in which I approach my day-to-day life is noth­ing new! This change has been such an incred­i­ble expe­ri­ence for my fam­i­ly and me, but I think whether our rein­ven­tion is per­son­al or pro­fes­sion­al, many of the same con­cepts apply. The prod­ucts, so to speak, in our lives will change; the process­es will be dif­fer­ent; and the tech­nolo­gies we rely on will shift as a per­son­al rein­ven­tion unfolds. But we have to get com­fort­able with being uncomfortable—with tak­ing risks and with strate­giz­ing with­out some­times ful­ly under­stand­ing a sit­u­a­tion. As an expat, I’ve also learned to keep an open mind to new opin­ions and methodologies—something that also applies direct­ly to the per­son­al jour­ney of dig­i­tal marketers.

What are you look­ing for­ward to most at Summit?

Zablan: I love and look for­ward to the cus­tomer and indus­try con­nec­tions that occur at Sum­mit. The event’s mis­sion is to con­nect mar­keters across EMEA with peers and indus­try lumi­nar­ies alike—to engage in a mass con­ver­sa­tion about the “how’s” and “why’s” of marketing’s rein­ven­tion; to take a look, col­lec­tive­ly, at our play­book and fig­ure out next steps to arm for suc­cess in the dig­i­tal age. At Adobe, we often say that while chal­leng­ing, dig­i­tal mar­keters thrive on this envi­ron­ment of con­stant change—and I’m excit­ed to dive into this dynam­ic con­ver­sa­tion at Summit.

If you are com­ing to Sum­mit, safe trav­els and we look for­ward to see­ing you there! If you haven’t man­aged to get a tick­et you can watch Sum­mit live on your lap­top of mobile by reg­is­ter­ing here. And, take part in the con­ver­sa­tion with #Adobe­Sum­mit.