Close to 4000 people poured through the doors of the ICC in Sydney over the 27th and 28th June for Adobe Symposium. Now in its 4th year running, the Symposium is an Adobe-led event that focuses on creativity, marketing and technology through keynote presentations and hands-on workshops.
The Green Hat team attended the event as partners of Marketo within the Engage Hub. Over the space of two days, we had scintillating discussions with fellow marketers and I came away with a couple of takeaways from the event.
1. The rise of marketing technology in B2B
Marketo attended Symposium for the first time this year since they were acquired by Adobe for a cool US$4.75 billion in September 2018. What they brought to the table is a spotlight on the role of a marketing automation platform in the B2B space and how it fits into the wider marketing ecosystem that Adobe offers.
This is highly relevant as we’ve found from our B2B Marketing Research Report that investment in marketing automation clocks in at #3 on the list of planned investment. Coincidentally, the #3 challenge for marketers is implementing marketing technology.
In the area of B2B marketing technology, the area of ABM factored into several conversations. Anecdotally, marketers want to practice ABM but have struggled with the tools (or lack thereof) available to them. Another struggle is using these tools to execute ABM in a sophisticated manner. The role that technology can play in the ABM game is ensuring that there is access to a source of truth around the accounts marketers are targeting via ABM. This source of truth should help marketers personalise communications and feed prospects the right content at the right time via the right channel. Plugging into this should be other factors such as access to customer intent and surging search terms. Closing the loop is being able to attribute ABM to sales conversion.
2. Let’s not implement technology for the sake of it
There was a huge focus on technology and tools at Symposium. This isn’t surprising given Adobe and Marketo’s focus on software. Further, there were a number of other tech vendors at Symposium. This isn’t surprising – the B2B lumascape is getting increasingly crowded. Scott Brinker from Chiefmartec has mapped out 7,040 (!) marketing tech solutions in the marketplace.
However, there were truly some head-scratching moments I had with people on the exhibition floor. Some marketing folk had implemented Marketo, but were either not sure what they were going to use it for or were using it as a ‘glorified Mailchimp’ replacement. Another IT leader I spoke to had implemented a marketing automation platform at work but was still trying to work out processes and workflows with his marketing department.
It’s all too easy to be wowed by the many different ways that technology can help us do our jobs better or help us serve our customers better, but making sure you’ve got a plan for how you’re going to utilise said technology and working out how the rest of your organisation can benefit from it are key criteria to answer. Another key finding from our B2B Marketing Research Report is ensuring that you’ve got the skills at your organisation to help utilise technology. The #1 skills shortage B2B marketers currently face is in marketing technology.
3. Genuine conversations still matter
It’s too easy to get wowed by all the buzz, swag and competitions (cash grab machines and VR demos were some of the ‘look at me’ aspects at these events) and miss out on genuine connections with peers and other industry folk. Too often, attendees rush from keynote to breakout sessions and completely miss out on meeting other people there.
While a lot of the flashy action does take place on-stage during the keynotes and break-out sessions, the ‘real’ action and opportunities lie on the exhibition floor. Also, you know what? You can always catch up on the keynotes when Adobe posts them on their website/YouTube channel.
Catching someone’s eye from your booth or while waiting in line for coffee and following through with a simple smile and ‘How are you doing?’ or ‘How’s the show been for you?’ is a great way to initiate conversations. Keep the conversation going by really listening.
As an exhibitor at these shows, I also make it a point to wander the floor and check out what other companies are up to. This might seem like a no-brainer, but across the two days on the floor, apart from our immediate neighbours, no other exhibitor made it a point to come over to talk to us!
That’s a shame because there are tons of interesting tech and service providers in the market. One of the standouts was Drift, a conversational marketing platform that uses very customised, context-based chats to drive prospects to conversion. See what I did there? They got a plug because I had a genuine conversation with Jared from Drift.
4. Cute dogs get you all time
Adobe set aside an area in the hall where attendees could just chill out. On day 2, they invited Delta Therapy Dogs to bring in some therapy dogs and boy, were they winners! The takeaway here? When all else fails, bring cute dogs.