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Important Takeaways From the Opening Session of Adobe Summit 2014

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adobe summit keynote banner photoThis morning kicked off Adobe Summit 2014 in Salt Lake City. It is the largest digital marketing conference in the world, with 6500 attendees from 33 countries this year. Presentations this morning introduced case studies, new product feature demos, and new partnership announcements—you can read all about them by following the #AdobeSummit on Twitter or by visiting the conference website.

There were two important ideas that came out of this morning’s presentations—ideas that will define the way marketers approach team structuring, tool implementation, and budgets.

1. The digital era is not the end of creativity.

Thanks to powerful new technology, marketers can control messaging and assets delivered real-time. These relevant marketing messages are tailored for each individual customer—all while ensuring the messages are approved and on brand. The needs and desires of customers are finally dictating the course of technology driven marketing. And this opens new opportunities. Indeed, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen, in his keynote, stressed the importance of creativity for our evolving digital marketing strategies.

But even with incredible new tools, targeting individuals is far from a push button action. While technology can enable highly targeted interaction through a system that is increasingly easy to use, marketers need to make sure the right person is in control of strategy—that the right level of strategic thinking applied to utilizing these tools.

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Adobe calls this new marketing, “Real Time Enterprise.” But it is important to remember that just because a tool has a capability doesn’t mean customers will engage with a marketing message. True engagement requires an emotional connection that can only come from an internal investment in creative. Creativity leads to great ideas and innovative thinking. Strategy without creative inspiration—without an emotional connection—will never lead to a deeper interact with consumers.

At Brooks Bell creative strategy—in the traditional sense of design and copy—are integrated into our relationships with every client, whether there’s an internal team, and existing agency relationship, or an completely unfulfilled need. We feel design and copy can create the emotional appeal that leads to higher conversions. But we also apply the frameworks and philosophies of creative across all of our departments to bring new types of strategy to our clients.

2. If we invented marketing today, we would structure our teams differently.

The most important statement made this morning was something Brad Rencher, senior vice president and general manager of digital marketing at Adobe, said while explaining the conception of Adobe Marketing Cloud. He asked the audience to pretend we were inventing marketing today.

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If we started by understanding the way consumers use devices and react to marketing messages, Rencher concluded, we would structure our approach differently. If we were to invent marketing right now, every person would be focused on interacting with a customer in a meaningful way. “The problem is we’re a legacy system,” Rencher explained, “built around operating different tools.”

The trend of CMOs and CIOs working together has been discussed at length, but existing silos still get in the way. Organizational structure is partly to blame, but there are embedded practices, tools, and processes that also prevent collaboration. “Adobe Marketing Cloud is making marketing free from backwards compatibility. We didn’t define it to break down silos. We built it as if silos never existed.”

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I am looking forward to the rest of this year’s Adobe Summit. If you are here in Salt Lake City this week, please stop by the Brooks Bell booth!

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