Last week over 300 leading marketers from global brands gathered at Spring Studios in NYC for a day of talks and insights on the “Path to Digital Change.” With presentations from innovative and iconic brands like Timberland, Stanley Black & Decker, and Land O’Lakes, there were many learnings for marketers to take back to their teams. Here are six moments that you should keep top-of-mind as you plan your marketing for 2018 and beyond.

1. Beth Comstock reminds us that what’s on the inside of your brand counts
As Vice Chair of GE – one of the most innovative companies on the planet – Beth Comstock knows a thing or two about building brands and changing lives and jobs with technology. One thing marketers can learn from GE’s digital transformation story? Remember to balance innovating your products with driving digital change in your internal processes. “I wish we had focused on digital strategy, before adding sensors in our technology,” she told our Co-Founder and CEO Noah Brier.

2. Kim Metcalf-Kupres shows that it takes a village to build an innovative company
After 130 years in operation, staying innovative is top-of-mind for the leadership at Johnson Controls. In her discussion with our Co-Founder and President James Gross, CMO Kim Metcalf-Kupres explained that fostering a culture of innovation isn’t just about the CMO – it’s about the organization and the employees it attracts. As Kim said,“There’s a certain kind of person that gravitates to Johnson Controls – that’s inherent to who we are. We have an obsession with continuous improvement and an obsession with our customers.”

3. Raja Rajamannar explains why the future is in ‘story-making,’ not storytelling
With ad blocking software on the rise, marketers need to find new ways to capture consumers’ attention and transform customers into brand advocates. This is a high priority at Mastercard, where the marketing team is investing in experiential, customer-centric content to engage a new generation of shoppers. “The future is in story-making – consumers want experiences with value. If you give them a good experience, they’ll become your brand ambassador,” explained CMO Raja Rajamannar.

4. Stuart Eccles reveals the future of Marketing Project Management in Percolate
Over the years, marketers have been forced to do a lot of their work in tools that weren’t built for them – and project management is no exception. That’s why our Chief Product Officer Stuart Eccles announced that Percolate is releasing 25 new features in the coming months that are purpose-built to help marketers manage the entire content lifecycle in a single tool. This includes everything from managing inbound requests and production schedules to hierarchical campaigns that will revolutionize the way global brands, plan, create, and execute their omnichannel content.

5. Theresa McDonnell shows how dropping marketing’s oldest crutch can drive engagement
For much of marketing’s history, brands have relied on stereotypes to position, target, and engage with groups in their customer base. But as Theresa McDonnell the Director of Digital Content at Unilever explained, by 2020, 40% of consumers will be ‘Gen Z’ – a generation that doesn’t identify with or conform to the stereotypes of the past. That’s why in 2016, Unilever launched #Unstereotype an initiative to rid their content of stereotypical portrayals that is already driving brand growth across the company. But, as Theresa explained, the initiative goes beyond just Unilever: “Not only do we want to rid our ads of stereotypes, but we want to encourage everyone to do it. It’s the right thing; it’s the best thing for consumers.”

6. Rishi Dave shares his favorite mental model for managers
Success in marketing is as much about managing a team as it is building a brand. That’s why Dun & Bradstreet CMO Rishi Dave uses a selection of mental models to make assessing talent more efficient and effective. One of his most useful tips is to think about employees along a competence-confidence matrix and learn how to nurture and manage people who fall into each of the four quadrants. For instance, people who fall in the low confidence, high-competence quadrant need to be mentored and built-up. “As a leader you have to make a decision if you’re going to coach someone who has the ability to grow, especially when they’re early in their career,” said Rishi.