The theme of Adobe Summit 2014 was reinvention. It’s an intimidating word. Reinvention can be a difficult process, requiring critical self-reflection and a willingness to let go of stale and limiting ideas and methods. It’s also the surest path to growth, inspiration, and truly bold and original thinking.

Digital Reinvention

Digital has already reinvented marketing. We are reimagining ourselves because we need our skills and vision to create customer experiences that take full advantage of the possibilities of digital. Reinvention is about gaining deep customer insights, innovating strategies, and living up to and exceeding your brand potential. We reinvent to thrive.

Here are six reinvention rules that emphasize the play, exploration, and community interaction that drive creative growth. If you followed me on Twitter during Summit, you may have noticed my #Reinvention rules roll out. Read them all here, and continue to share these bits of creative fuel with your own networks.

1. Try something new. 

I recently dined on crickets while interviewing the cast of a new production at San Jose Rep. That was definitely a first for me, and I learned some surprising facts about the insects’ nutritional content and possible role in ending our global food crisis. Who knew?

You don’t have to chow down on creepy crawlers to become a better digital marketer, but the same spirit of adventure will serve you well. Maybe you’ve yet to try producing microcontent. Maybe you’ve never used audio content to engage customers. Or maybe there’s a new technology you’ve put off learning because it’s unfamiliar. If you’re a little reluctant to get started, try something completely out of the box to remind yourself that new can also be fun and liberating.

2. Hang out with creative people.

I regularly attend new plays and meet the players in my regional theater scene. I’m not an actor, director, playwright, or producer, but these interactions benefit me personally and professionally. Why? Because traversing disciplines gives me a fresh perspective and teaches me new ways to approach the creative process.

Hanging out with creative people in any field offers many benefits, from inspiration and understanding to whole new skill sets and resources. Not sure where to turn? Here’s a hint: your new creative friends might be just down the hall or in the next office. Crossing disciplines within your organization can help you exercise different ways of thinking about your marketing strategies.

3. Be bold.

Adobe has embraced the cloud, making a bold and committed shift to cloud-based offerings from desktop software. We took a measured risk to innovate and provide the types of solutions creatives need now and in the future. Investors have also responded to our innovation around Adobe’s business model.

As a company, we’re deliberately leading the reinvention of digital marketing. We want to inspire others in our field to be bold leaders as well. What bold steps—big or small—can you take to prepare your company for the rapidly dawning future of digital?

4. Don’t go it alone, get feedback.

We held a customer advisory board at Adobe Summit 2014. Our expert advisors provided invaluable feedback, giving us a deeper understanding of the customer experience and journey with our products and services. Get candid feedback from your most knowledgeable customers, digital marketing peers, and other trusted sources to guide your reinvention. Don’t be afraid to hear the tough and honest reports of people who are invested in what you do. It’s the first step in trying something new, being bold, and eventually making gravity-defying creative leaps.

5. Think big trends and impact.

Julie Bornstein, CMO of Sephora, spoke to us about her visioning and decision-making process as a leader of global company with a wildly successful digital marketing strategy. Bornstein looks at big and growing trends in both beauty and digital and asks how they are uniquely relevant to Sephora and her role as CMO. She keeps an open mind, following global and multicultural beauty trends so Sephora can maintain its reputation as a global trendsetter. 

Remain open to the big trends in your field, not so you can follow and conform, but to creatively frame ways the trends can serve and impact your unique brand offerings.

6. Be honest with yourself.

Nobody’s perfect, and nobody gets everything right on the first try. Be honest about what isn’t working. Conversely, be honest about what is working; sometimes the good news doesn’t fit our original vision, and it’s hard to ditch ideas we’ve become attached to.

Adobe conducted a digital roadblock study among more than 1,000 digital marketers in the US. Our top three takeaways are:

  1. Marketers know they must reinvent themselves, but don’t know how.
  2. Future marketers need to take more risks.
  3. Companies need to hire more digital talent.

All of the findings point to a need for more radical honesty among organizations about the needs and direction of their marketing strategies. The report also reveals a widespread struggle to adopt personalization, social, and mobile practices even though we know they’re good for us.

Break the Rules

Adobe is continually reinventing its services and products so our customers can do the same, stay competitive, and win. When you try something new, it’s not guaranteed to go well (I don’t plan on making crickets a regular part of my diet), but you will broaden your horizons and add to your creative toolkit, making you a stronger marketer.

The reinvention rules are all about rethinking the rules that have been handed down to us—the old rules that hold us back from learning new skills and slow our adoption of powerful tools and technologies. Reinvention is not something that happens overnight, but the steps we all take every day to try out new methods and test our existing beliefs. We want to bring the entire global user community along on a reinvention journey.