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Adobe MD: ‘Any debate around the value of digital is done and won’

Peter Bell is UKI Marketing Director at software giant Adobe and answers our questions in the latest of Press Gazette’s Marketing Maestro interviews. This series is produced in association with Lead Monitor, New Statesman Media Group’s content- and solution-driven marketing arm.

What has been your proudest achievement in your current role?

Having come into the business via an acquisition and having been in leadership roles for a number of years now, I’m acutely aware of the importance of team culture, especially when entire teams and companies are joining en masse. I’d say my proudest achievement is getting our team culture to the place it is now, where we’ve brought people from different backgrounds and companies together into a really great team.  We’ve also got a great relationship with our colleagues in sales, which isn’t always easy and has been fundamental to some strong business results.

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Which media channels do you see as most important and best value when it comes to marketing spend and activity?

It has to be digital. The past two years have proven beyond all doubt that digital channels are effective – both in terms of costs and results.

Pre-pandemic there were many industries where annual trade shows and corporate away days were the top of the agenda in terms of marketing spend, but all that was forced to change when the pandemic hit.

Today, having had that two-year hiatus where ‘normal’ has been suspended, the value of digital channels has really been proven. I don’t expect we’ll stay 100% digital forever because human interaction is key in the B2B sales cycle, but any debate around the value of digital is done and won.

What are the key differences between B2C and B2B marketing?

I’ve worked in both B2C and B2B marketing and the lines between both continue to blur. The fundamentals of what makes a great B2C campaign are no different to those that make a great B2B campaign: Engaging, relevant content served on the right channel to the right person at the right time to drive an action.

The delivery platforms for B2B and B2C used to be different: Out-of-home, TV, print, radio, retail to reach consumers and a mix of trade shows, trade press, smaller in-person events and telemarketing for B2B.  The delivery channels have now largely converged and whether you’re a business leader, decision-maker or practitioner, you’re still a consumer and you’re consuming personal & business content across the same channels.  Across social media, web and commerce you have the have the same expectations in your professional capacity as you do as a consumer. Your B2B customer experience is being compared to Netflix, Amazon, and all of the other services we use every day.

As a result, the expectations for digital interactions are higher than ever before and it’s important to have consistency across all channels, including your sales team. One voice, one message.

What for you is the key to any successful marketing campaign – what actually makes a ‘good lead’?

A good lead is one that results in new business and adds to the top-line. I place a high value on the use of an ideal customer profile (ICP) – that captures the prospect’s role, industry, company size and current digital footprint.  Getting that right requires close collaboration between sales and marketing teams, but the impact can be enormous. I’m never happier than when a lead that comes in as a result of a campaign matches our ideal customer profile and ultimately leads to a sale and a long-term relationship.

How important is technology in modern marketing?

Technology is fundamental to any and every marketing activity today. Modern marketing is a blend of creativity and technology, and the fact is that even offline channels are defined and augmented by digital tools and capabilities. Every audience – whether it’s B2B or B2C is now digital first, and they increasingly expect an outstanding and personal digitally driven experience from brands.

Having great creative campaigns and engaging content is one thing, but understanding how to get it in front of the intended audience at the right time, on their favoured channel, presented in a way that is highly relevant to them and what they care about in the moment is what makes it effective.

Even experiential pop-ups are not entirely offline as they’re geared towards shares and interactions on social media. If an experiential event takes place and no-one tweets about it, did it really happen?

What are the biggest pain points in a marketing campaign?

You always want to be able to move faster so time-to-market is my biggest pain point. Striking the right balance between acting quickly and with agility, and making thorough, considered plans has always been a major challenge for marketers. However pressed for time we are, quick and ineffective is not a solution and so a little bit of patience goes a long way.

And finally, if you could ask your peers for one piece of advice or help, what would it be?

I’d love to know of a reliable resource for company information that’s accurate for EMEA.  In our business being able to identify ideal customers relies on being able to find out information on number of employees, turnover, subsidiaries and much more.  If anyone can recommend one, I’m all ears.