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‘Customer-centric’ strategic planning that drives behaviour change

By Della Tennant and Stephen Small

In recent years, the pharmaceutical industry has increasingly embraced the need to be more customer-centric in its mindset, product offerings and services. This is particularly evident in the desire for true ‘engagements’ that resonate with customers rather than the more traditional ‘push’ approach to communications. Despite this trend, it is easy to default to a brand-centric approach during the brand planning process unless clear thinking on the goal of customer engagement is embedded in the process.

At Consulting at McCann Health, we believe that the success of the strategic brand planning process is heavily dependent on having sufficient depth of customer immersion and insights. This depth allows teams to really understand what customers will value, leverage disruptive creative thinking and align their strategy to the customer experiences that they wish to create.

Here, we explore an approach to integrate customer engagement thinking into the broader strategic brand planning approach in order to deliver a mutually beneficial impact for both the customer and the brand.

1. Think ‘immersion’ right from the start

Right from the inception of the brand planning process, at the situational analysis stage, the focus should be on immersion to uncover deep insight into customers, markets and competitors that can take brand plans into new territory. Too often brand plans start with the end tactics in mind or deliver strategic imperatives based on preconceived and sometimes outdated ideas.

It is critically important to take the time to understand the customer journey, the moments of connection, their unmet needs, challenges, engagement preferences, what motivates/ drives behaviours and what blocks/inhibits them from behaving differently. Taking this immersive approach starts brand planning on a more customer-centric footing and opens up previously unexplored opportunities through a process of disruptive creative thinking.

2. Identify the engagement goal and desired behaviour change

The strategy section of the brand plan should articulate the customer engagement goal in order to provide a critical bridge between brand strategy and implementation tactics. Many brand plans develop engagement tactics directly from high-level strategic drivers without ever really showing ‘why’ they are using that specific tactic (rather than something else) and what the desired behaviour change is.

It is critical to identify an engagement goal that satisfies both a strategic benefit to the brand or business and solves a true customer problem or unmet need for the priority customer segment(s). Once this is identified, the team can begin to formulate a customer engagement plan focused on the priority customer(s) and experiences they wish to create in order to deliver meaningful moments that truly matter.

3. Develop the ‘big idea’ for maximum interest and curiosity

Once the engagement goal is clear within the strategy section of the brand plan, the next step is to develop the creative brief for the ‘big idea’. This is a critical step that will crystallise the insights and objectives of engaging with the priority customer(s) to drive a creative concept that will bring the plan to life and underpin all tactical executional elements. The big idea should bring to life how the brand will engage in a way that resonates with customers for maximum interest and curiosity, creating experiences that will increase attachment and loyalty to the brand. At this stage the big idea should remain channel agnostic.

4. Engage where it matters for mutually beneficial impact

Only after all of the above have been completed should the tactical considerations of the programmes, content, services and channels for engagement be finalised and the specific tactical executional elements be created. Ironically, channels and tactical execution are often the focus of annual brand planning, particularly for in-line brands, where the brand plan rolls forward year-on-year.

At this step the channels should be selected for maximum impact aligned to the engagement goal identified and the original deep customer insights on preferences. Brand teams then need to synchronise their activities into an omnichannel approach delivering a customer-centric experience that flows seamlessly across channels.

At Consulting at McCann Health we are passionate about making strategic planning more customer-centric in order to drive positive behaviour change. If you have been inspired to make your brand planning more customer-centric, then please get in touch with our expert team. We can offer a fresh external perspective and innovative solutions tailored to your specific strategic planning needs.

To learn more, get in touch with or

In association with

15th April 2020

From: Marketing


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