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Beyond the annual plan

Seven steps to creating a successful strategic  plan in a hyper-competitive market

Fred BassetIn the last five years, the pharmaceutical industry has shifted from blockbusters in primary care to an increased number of high value specialty launches.

Austerity and demographic shifts have changed the customer focus, with the spotlight now on the clinical, economic and societal value of innovative new drugs.

This means more product launches in more indications, marketed to larger audiences than ever before. Many of these products are on accelerated development programmes and are often evaluated in combination, making it difficult to distinguish a partner from a competitor.

These hyper-competitive markets demand focused, competitive and resilient marketing strategies. However, strategic planning approaches are often fixated on fiscal gains instead of competitive, agile brand planning.

Here, we explore seven key points you need to improve that process and see beyond the annual plan.

1. Demand strategic clarity

All too often the core of the plan becomes overcomplicated. The competitive environment and increased internal competition for resources means you have to start with simple, strategic clarity to be successful. Ask yourself:

  • Where are we going to play?
  • What is our winning aspiration?
  • How are we going to win?
  • What pivotal actions will we take?

2. Take a behaviour change approach

Behaviour change is the essence of marketing. In hyper-competitive markets, brands work with multiple stakeholders who often change their behaviours. As a result, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the drivers and barriers influencing them. First, classify the behaviours you want stakeholders to adopt. Then, based on their current behaviour, identify what needs to happen for change to take place.

We have developed workshops and approaches based on established and proven behaviour change methodologies, which take a multi-faceted look at the challenges and solutions at individual, population and systems levels.

3. Tackle the difficult decisions head on

When we develop collaborative brand planning sessions, we do exercises that force strategic decisions to be made financially. Some of the people in the room may even find themselves facing the possibility of redundancy. It can be tough but making those decisions ensures the development of a plan to both accelerate growth and beat targets.

4. Do your scenario planning

In hyper-competitive markets there is often a rapid succession of events, such as data releases, which might require a course correction. The greatest strategy can be doomed if it isn’t flexible. Rather than making a single forecast, scenario planning sketches out different narratives on the future of the market. This gives you the opportunity to review the details and consequences of each potential outcome and ensures you take advantage of market variability.

5. Obsess about relevance

When it comes to communicating with stakeholders, there are no shortcuts. Hyper-competitive markets mean more information can be consumed and exchanged by stakeholders. In the multichannel era, stakeholder-learning journeys are incredibly useful. They map relevant, detailed engagement plans for the customer’s entire journey, while aligning tactics to customers’ needs as they adopt and advocate the product.

6. Measure and optimise

A measurement framework helps you to understand your performance and shape your future approach. However, conducting in-depth analysis will take your data to the next level, which ensures your plans are effective and trends are identified.

This means optimising your data. Performance dashboards are useful tools for consolidating and visualising your data, helping you to obtain the right insights and continuously improve your plan throughout the year.

7. Move beyond the annual plan

It is likely your plan will be out of date as soon as it’s published. The best way to adjust the plan is also the simplest - set up strategic review meetings that align with critical market events, such as data releases or congresses. Often these meetings are described as ‘competitive intelligence’ meetings so the focus is on the update, not on the response. But this means missing crucial opportunities for ensuring your actions are agile. In these meetings, distil the market and competitive intelligence information and then ask two simple questions: what has changed? And what should our response be?

Staying ahead of the game

The future looks bright for the pharmaceutical industry, however, the emergence of new technologies means the landscape is likely to become more complex. By ensuring you have a well-defined strategic plan, you can mitigate for risks and reap the rewards in this hyper-competitive market.

Fred Basset is co-founder and head of strategy at Blue Latitude Health

In association with

blue latitude health

9th October 2017

From: Marketing

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