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.