Collaboration is future of marketing capability

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I’m lucky. I get a daily view of marketing and business that few of you get to share. It’s the vantage point of the editor. The ’global’ view of best and worst practice, across every sector, discipline and market.

As you focus each day on succeeding at the task in hand that will add value to your organisation alone, I’m paid to start my day from a basic premise of ’I don’t know anything’ and ask you the questions that matter.

The ability to acknowledge that no one person has all the answers, asking the right questions, then summarising and applying the resulting information are not just the most potent weapons in a journalist’s skillset. They’re invaluable to business leaders too.

But it’s difficult to find a business that is willing to publicly acknowledge it has plenty to learn and room to improve. And it is even more difficult to find an organisation willing to share openly either its challenges or the wealth of insight discovered by those brave enough to ask the questions. So I applaud Heineken, O2 and Aviva for collaborating in the past 12 months on improving their marketing capability.

It’s incredibly refreshing to see three non-competing brands of this size meeting regularly to share experiences, challenges and solutions to see if they can benefit not just one another but marketing capability across the industry.

Gaining the benefits requires each one to be open, honest and willing to share. All three say it’s worth it. Now they are looking to open the collaborative community to more brands. Basically, they’re giving themselves the chance to enjoy ’the editor’s view’.

It’s worth noting where this collaboration was born. Michelle Keaney, head of marketing capability at Heineken UK, was one of last year’s scholars at the Marketing Academy run by the Marketing Hall of Legends and sponsored by Marketing Week. Keaney says the collaboration actually emerged from conversations had by marketers from each brand directly involved in the Marketing Academy. I’m not surprised.

I spent all of Monday with the 28 scholars on this year’s programme. All of them were as intelligent and hungry to learn as Keaney and co and just as willing to share. They obviously benefit from the world-class business leaders the Marketing Academy puts in front of them as mentors, but they also recognise the opportunity to develop their skills in conjunction with one another.

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