What can we learn from Marketing Society Award winners?

I initially hesitated to use this title, since I am acutely aware of the conventional wisdom that winning an award can presage a period of poor results.  "Pride comes before a fall" and all that. 
However, this year all the Marketing Society Award winners seem to have followed one of the golden rules for success.  In order to be successful they did not just unearth a powerful new insight from customers and come up with a new idea, but they also had to engage with the rest of the business. 
They all work XF (cross functionally) and maybe even set up XF teams.
Here are a selection of the award winners.
Sainsburys – feed the family for a fiver
The O2  – venue launch
Hovis  – re invigoration
UPS – The UPS widget
Cadbury – Bring back Wispa
McDonalds – Feel proud to work at McDonalds
More Than – Personal Customer Manager
See all the winners click here
All of these initiatives require project team leaders who inspire and mobilise their peers in other functions (such as commercial, operations, merchandisers, product development, finance, and HR) to get behind the ideas and make them work. 
How can marketers do this?  In searching for wisdom on this I had a look at Tom Peters material.  He has made it his mission to promote the idea of cross functional co-operation and understand how to make it work.  He has published this paper. 
"XF-50" 50 ways to enhance cross functional effectiveness and deliver speed, service excellence and value added customer solutions. 
Click here to download the paper from Tom Peters
Now 50 is a lot of tips to take in and deal with, so we pulled off our own favourites and reworked them into a top 10.  Here they are: 

Top tips for marketers on customer led project teams 

How to harness powerful customer insights and create a plan for growth
These are not necessarily the whole answer but they do offer a refreshing challenge to the ways many of us have worked in the past.  
  1. Jaw Jaw Jaw – Talk XF co-operation value added at every opportunity.  Become a relentless bore.  Be happy to be in meetings, meetings are real work that get things done.
  2. Explain to everyone that WE make it work or not.  Its not THEM.  The outside world is not the problem.  The enemy is us.
  3. Put everything on the internal web.  This helps - a lot. ("Everything" = Big word).  Provide open access to the data, information, ideas, all available to all, transparency, beyond a level that is sensible.
  4. All functions are created equal.  All functions contribute equally.  All=All
  5. Use the words, "partner", "team" and "us" until we want to barf.  (Words matter a lot)
  6. Never blame other parts of the organisation for screw ups.  Blaming is an automatic firing offense.
  7. Get  'em out with the customer.  Rarely does the accountant or bench scientist call on the customer.  Reverse that.  Give everyone more or less regular customer facing experiences. One learns quickly that the customer is not interested in our in-house turf battles.
  8. Choose team members based on their co-operation proclivity.  Find people who want to work XF, promote them into your team.
  9. Create an XF honest broker or ombudsman.  The ombudsman examines XF friction events and acts as conflict resolution counsellor (perhaps create a formal conflict resolution agreement).
  10. Lock in XF co-operation.  This should be an explicit part of the vision statement.
Our approach "The Growth Game" is built on the premise that XF co-operation is critical to success.  We believe this is one of the chief reasons why our clients succeed and get great results.  See more details  click here

What the election results can tell you about what is important to your customers

The European elections are all over our screens today (Monday 8th June).  This is a pretty big poll of public opinion (15m voters).  I have been having a look to see if the results provide any useful insights for business leaders and marketers.
At Differentiate we say you must understand what drives customers to choose one product over another product.  We call these drivers "Power Attributes".  This insight from Power Attributes analysis helps you develop products, services and marketing messages that are more attractive to customers.
These Power Attributes do not shift every month or even every year, but they do change over time as external factors influence what is important to customers.  2009 seems to be one of those times when big changes are affecting customer motivations.  The recession, the banking crisis and the UK political row over politicians expenses seem to have had an effect on what matters to customers compared to just one or two years ago.
Studying the aftermath of the European elections suggests that the themes that arise and we need toi explore are grouped into three A's – Apathy, Apprehension and Anger
Apathy and detachment is demonstrated by the fact that no party got more votes than last time.  Labour lost because they got a lot fewer votes.  It seems that Labour voters could not only not bring themselves to vote Labour but they also did not want to vote for anyone else either!
Apprehension and fear comes from uncertainty regarding our personal financial futures (will I have a job? will I have a pension? I have lost 40% of my savings etc.)
Anger seems to be directed at banks for rewarding themselves whilst squandering our money and politicians for giving even banks even more money and then fiddling their own expenses at the same time.

How is this relevant to marketers and business leaders? 

These emotions are out there and real.  They affect what really matters to people.  These kind of macro changes and customers' emotional responses means it is highly likely that the drivers of how customers choose what to buy in your market have changed in the past 12 months.
We have been looking for some indicators of what might be changing.  Exploring the Google search terms database is just one way to do this.  Here are some examples, we have compared May 2009 with May 2008.
What is up
Grow your own +500%
Best buy +20%
Green +12%
Good school +10%
Healthy +5%
What is the same
Value is level
Chocolate is the same
What is down
Organic is -25%
Holiday in France -23%
Gardening -20%
Luxury -15%
Banks -15% (a long term trend which has accelerated this year)
Cheap -14%
Security -6% (long term trend)
This brief analysis suggests a return to more basic human and community values and decreased interest in fripperies.  Whilst on the other hand, it shows that some basics will always endure like chocolate and value for money.
Making sure you understand how the fundamental drivers of choice are changing is one important tool to survive the recession.