From Bono to Albert Einstein, big ideas emerged last week at the first-ever Gartner Digital Marketing Conference. (Let’s just say that there is never a dull moment in marketing.) Here are some of the key pieces of advice I collected from the event for all you marketing professionals out there.

Buyers determine the journey.
Keynote speaker and revered professor of psychology and behavioral economics Dan Ariely advises paying attention to choice architecture. Customers choose the path of least resistance. Look for triggers that will reveal anticipated needs before they happen and use them to prime the customer journey

Experiment, take risks, and celebrate your failures.
Graffiti artist and guest keynote speaker Erik Wahl painted a picture of U2 front man Bono, and then scared the audience into thinking they might have to come up on stage to complete a series of tasks. (The lucky risk taker got the Bono painting as a prize.) While Erik toyed a bit with our emotions, the message was clear: rather than becoming paralyzed by fears of the unknown, marketers need to remember that fear is often False Evidence Appearing Real, and start crafting more disruptive strategies to differentiate themselves from the competition.

Preview Erik’s Guest KeynoteUNthink — Rediscover Your Creative Genius

Set a simplification strategy.
The pace of change in marketing is intense. Get back to the basics. Start with the ‘why?’.  Why are you in business? Why are you here for your buyers? Having the ‘why’ will give you a beacon and a reference point for making all subsequent business decisions.

Be agile
Speed and nimbleness matter when it comes to marketing. Real-time marketing will shoot you ahead of your competitors, but to do it well you need to have smooth execution. By employing methods from Agile marketing – running sprints and a daily stand-up with your cross-functional team—you can set a clear trajectory and change course quickly if an opportunity for real-time marketing appears.

Customer experience is the new battlefield.
Companies like Amazon have set the bar high. How can you now live up to your customer expectations? Know what drives them — don’t guess. Listen to them, engage with them, humanize them. Gartner Analyst Kirsten Newbold-Knipp recommends mystery shopping for your company and your brand. See what your buyers and customers experience first-hand. Do you like what you see? If not, change it.

Preview Kirsten’s Session on the Seven Habits of High-Performing Marketing Organizations

Develop predictive benchmarks to measure progress.  Design every marketing program as an experiment and learn how to weed out bias. Combine data and technology to achieve results.

Were you at the Gartner Digital Marketing Conference? Share your takeaways with us on Twitter.