A warm winter feeling

Soon it will be time for us to kick back, relax and enjoy the warm winter feeling of a full stomach, gifts, crackers, friendship, family and a slightly fuzzy head. I shall be experiencing some of the relaxed feeling a little early. I've just finished my teaching for the year, and after the wave of marking student papers is over, I shall be flying off to warmer climes. I'm also just finishing several research and consulting projects and will be invoicing for them, praying that invoices will be settled promptly to tide me over a longer than usual break with family on the other (warmer) side of the world!

For one project, I was asked to produce a list of companies that I knew well and that had used market and customer insight to drive their business forward, in all respects, from business and marketing strategy, through marketing mix (product, proposition, price, channels, marketing communication ) to delivery in the market place. I furnished several examples, and having done so, reflected a little. I got a warm feeling. because the evidence that I'd furnished was of how board directors explained how they had moved from developing good insight into how customers act and respond, but also how they think and feel, to drive the whole business forward, to achieve sector-beating financial results.

Sadly, if the client had asked me the opposite, to produce a list of companies who did have insight but had misinterpreted it or used it poorly, I could have done so with equal ease. However, what warmed me was that once I would have found it hard to complete the first list and very easy to produce the second. Today, the balance is about the same.

I then asked myself (yes, I do talk to myself - a function of age?) why it might be, with sources and volumes of data exploding, some companies were not only getting on top of the data to produce insight and translate it into the right actions. I answered myself with another question, whether in those companies, there was a clear and accepted framework for the translation. The answer of course was yes. Typically, that framework had been built by one or more directors, being modified and improved over the years, as they learned what worked well, what worked a little creakily, and what didn't work at all. And the framework wasn't complicated. It was straightforward and classic and - most importantly of all - balanced. No brilliant propositions through the wrong channels. No great quality poorly communicated. Nothing skewed, all balanced. Well, pretty much - nobody is perfect!

So, to help you get started on the road to nirvana, we've been working to produce some frameworks. You can see them here. They are of course just a start. We'll be deepening them soon. Meanwhile, take a look at them. Consider what you're doing today, what you could do to improve, what your competitors are doing, whether they are doing it better than you, so you need to catch up, or worse than you, so you could ride over them. And tell us what you think, what you're finding useful and what not, and what needs improving. Something to think about over Christmas, perhaps?