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.