Breaking the Norm: Creating a winning culture and GTM strategy for an aerospace giant’s $9B contract bid

Amidst shrinking military sequestration budgets, Boeing’s advanced Phantom Works defense division gambled when it chose to invest in a clean-sheet design and development approach for the Air Force’s $9B “T-X” contract to replace its aging T-38 trainer jets.

To beat out stiff competition and win over government decision makers, Boeing engaged Avenue to develop a go-to-market strategy as groundbreaking as its R&D approach. Just one complication — our research uncovered that internal Boeing production teams weren’t yet poised to innovate.

To rapidly align and rally them to think and act more entrepreneurially, Avenue quickly created “Break the Norm.” This internal program consisted of product prioritization and value proposition workshops, new mission/vision/values definition, and employee engagement and communications. We then developed an industry-first marketing strategy: While competitors tangled over aircraft features and benefits, Boeing would rise above the battle — educating government decision-makers on the long-term cost-benefits of its clean sheet development approach.

The plan worked. Boeing disrupted the industry and was awarded the $9B contract. Over 90% of the Boeing T-X aircraft will be made in America, supporting more than 17,000 U.S. jobs in 34+ states. Additionally, the potential for similar contracts from U.S. allies, makes the T-X award especially important for Boeing.

“We rocked the industry and world with our offering … the upfront approach was a total shock and awe experience for our customers and inside the company. Your firm was instrumental in this effort and we thank you very much. You brought a totally different perspective and approach. Great to have you and team supporting and reason why I solicited your help for this endeavor. You guys did great!! …lets go fly!…”


Engagement Highlights


  • Unaligned team, mired in corporate norms and mindset
  • Difficulty innovating
  • Traditional features and benefits-based marketing approach
  • Formidable competition


  • Favorably shaped government and military RFP requirements
  • Industry-first marketing approach; highly differentiated value proposition
  • A new model established for internal team innovation
  • Award of multi-billion dollar sales contract

Strategy and Activation

Key deliverables and activities

  • Employee engagement research
  • Internal alignment assessment
  • Competitor and brand audit
  • Product prioritization
  • Purpose / mission workshop
  • Internal mission, values and rally cry
  • Employee engagement and communications
  • Go-to-market strategy and tactical plan
  • Value prop and messaging
  • Marketing campaign
  • Sales playbook
  • Internal/external launch event
  • Trade show planning