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Pharma Brand Planners' Blog (Part 6)

Setting the right metrics and KPIs in your brand plan

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Part 6: Setting the right metrics and KPIs in your brand plan

This month we tackle one of the most important and most frequently neglected parts of the brand plan: the metrics and KPIs that give you valuable, regular feedback on your progress towards your brand plan goals and the operational effectiveness of your tactics.

In my marketing excellence work across the industry over the years, KPIs and measurement repeatedly come up as one of the most important topics for training or support. Some marketers just run out of time when it comes to this final section of the brand plan, others shy away
from giving numbers and targets from a lack of confidence in setting the right target or being seen to fail. But with a bit of time and practice, the measurement section of your brand plan can take on a clear shape and structure, and then be used for some quality operational brand team reviews.

There is a clear disconnect between accepted marketing measurement theory and the definition and use of KPIs and metrics in practice. In a recent audit of ten brand plans (global and local) across ten different pharma/biotech companies from 2015-2018, I found the following:

  • Only one out of the ten brand plans had SMART objectives linked to their KPIs
  • Only four out of the ten brand plans contained KPIs, and only one of these brand plans contained KPIs with a clear timeline and target
  • Only three out of the ten brand plans included a budget for market research, measurement and tracking.

So let’s start with a couple of definitions: what is a metric and what is a KPI? Essentially a metric is any measure that we can define to give us feedback on our brand plan’s effectiveness, while a KPI is just that; they are the few key metrics that we define as being the most important to focus on. You may have many metrics within your plan but only eight to ten KPIs that will form the basis of your research, tracking and reporting as a cross-functional brand team.

The starting point for creating a good measurement section in your brand plan rests with the quality of your commercial, financial and marketing objectives earlier in your plan. Many brand planning frameworks don’t actually stipulate the need to create one- to three-year SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) objectives.

If you haven’t already done so, I would strongly recommend that you create some clear objectives to include: number of patients treated, number and frequency of prescribers by segment where possible, desired attitude and behaviour change, access levels, sales, market share, advocacy levels and patient/prescriber experience objectives, to name but a few.

Once you have a clear set of objectives, you can then create a set of strategic KPIs aligned to each objective, to give you feedback over time on how you are progressing. There are three key elements of a strategic KPI:

  • Use a variety of sources of information
  • Set targets at various time points during the year
  • Ensure the KPIs have a clear target that will ultimately align with the year-end objective.

Some teams find Kaplan’s balanced scorecard useful to organise and present the strategic KPIs across four quadrants: customer/patient, financial, competition, organisational learning/processes.

Next you will need to define your operational KPIs: the metrics and KPIs for your major programmes and tactics to give you important feedback on whether your programmes are being implemented effectively, engaging your target audience(s) and contributing to a change in attitude and behaviour.

Select five to six of your biggest programmes and create three to four metrics for each programme to give you valuable feedback on that programme’s effectiveness, including specific pieces of content, channels and types of tactic or activity.

How do you know if you have created a strong KPI/measurement section in your brand plan and have incorporated measurement into your brand team’s practice?

If you can answer yes to these five questions, you are in good shape!

  1. Are your KPIs directly aligned to SMART commercial, financial and marketing objectives?
  2. Do your KPIs have clear targets and different sources of information and will they be reading out at different points in the year to help with course-correction decisions?
  3. Do you have budget in place and a clear owner for research, tracking and reporting against your KPIs?
  4. Have you assigned owners for each KPI asa clear leader to monitor progress and any decisions needed during the course of the year?
  5. Have you set up regular KPI and performance review reporting processes and meetings with your cross-functional brand team on a monthly or quarterly basis to take proactive decisions to optimise your brand’s performance through the course of the year?

For more, see Measure What Matters in Pharma/ Biotech at

Next time, we’ll be looking at how to manage change, uncertainty and risk within your brand plan.

Pharma Brand Planners' Blog (Part 5): How to 'sell' your brand...

Stephanie Hall is MD of brand planning healthcare consultancy Uptake Strategies.

Stephanie Hall is MD of brand planning healthcare consultancy Uptake Strategies

18th November 2019

From: Marketing


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