More than 12,000 people attended Adobe Marketing Summit in Las Vegas this week, making it the company’s largest marketing summit ever.
There were two key takeaways at the Sin City conference: first, marketing has been severely disrupted by cutting-edge technology and rapidly evolving customer expectations; and second, the tools that brands need to market successfully in this new world exist today—we simply need to learn how to use them.
From Adobe’s top execs, here are three things modern marketers must know to be successful today.
A year ago is ancient history
Adobe’s chief executive officer, Shantanu Narayen, threw shade on last year’s Marketing Summit by suggesting in no uncertain terms that most everything we thought we knew can be tossed out the window.
“What we were doing just 12 months ago feels like ancient history,” he said on stage during his company’s opening keynote an the Sands Expo.
That’s an exciting, but also terrifying, thought.
“Consumers love it, but businesses are struggling,” he admitted. “Every time we think we’ve caught up, a new digital transformation disrupts our efforts.”
This can cause some brands to coast, feeling that things change too quickly for them to continually adapt. But in an era that demands constant adaptation, this philosophy dooms them to be what Adobe likes to call “market laggards.”
“A key tenet of modern business,” said Narayen, “Is that preserving the status quo is no longer a business strategy.”
Marketing is bigger than brand awareness
Name any channel, tell us it isn’t filled with noise, and we’ll dub you a liar. Today, virtually all brands operate in some manner across virtually all channels, and new channels seem to be popping up every other week. Clamoring for awareness is a futile effort; at best, consumers will remember your name but fail to identify you with anything meaningful.
In order to realize your full marketing potential, you must look beyond awareness, argues Adobe.
“Marketing is no longer just about brand awareness,” says said Brad Rencher, Adobe’s general manager for digital marketing. “It’s about brand purpose.”
Consumers today seek brands whose identities align with theirs; they want to associate with brands that project the same values they hold. Being the loudest no longer translates into the highest conversion rates—you need to be authentic, relatable, and transparent.
The proof is in the pudding: National Geographic, according to chief marketing officer Jill Cress, has an “unrivaled sense of purpose” that permeates every layer of its business—and, as a result, has the largest social media following of any brand in the world.
Customers don’t want to merely buy things
There was a period of time that buying a good meant only buying a good—that the transaction, the transfer ownership from the seller to buyer, was the end of process. If the product was quality and the price was fair, there was no need to do much else.
That period of time is called the past.
Today, consumers demand more than ever from brands. Quality, yes, and value, certainly—but more saliently, they demand satisfaction through intangibles. Customers today expect not just a product or service but an experience.
“Customer experience is the differentiator between market leaders and market laggards,” argues Narayen.
The Adobe chief believes that a business can survive with just good product, but cannot thrive without wrapping said product in an experience that, as Rencher puts it, “delights the consumer at every turn.”
“It’s not about the thing they are buying; rather it is about the experience you are providing,” Rencher affirms.
According to Narayen, there is an “experience business wave” that will prove as major a disruption to the market as anything in the past, including the industrial revolution and the advent of the internet.
Rencher says this wave is the “new battleground” on which brands “will now compete for the foreseeable future.”
Are you ready to go to war?