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Measuring what matters: how to create the right KPIs for your brand, launch and portfolio

By Lauren Pearson and Stephanie Hall

Uptake Strategies

We are now in a world where real-time business data is easier than ever to access and we have a pool of insightful information at our fingertips.

This has allowed companies to more accurately track, analyse and manage customer interactions, in addition to identifying trends, unmet needs and new opportunities.

While this is an exciting time to be a ‘data geek’ analysing data sets and interactions, some organisations fall into the trap of misinterpreting data and focusing on the wrong metrics, sometimes at the expense of measuring what truly matters.

Over the years we have worked with brand teams across a variety of pharma and biotech companies on brand planning and marketing capability projects; one of the most frequently cited ‘challenge areas’ has been measurement, metrics and KPIs.

In the healthcare industry there is a significant disconnect between marketing measurement theory and practice, and at the same time a massive increase in the sources of healthcare measurement information.

The pharmaceutical industry is continuing its ‘disruption phase’ and therefore measurement of patient/physician/payer attitudes, engagement, behaviour as well as other activity, investment and competitive performance measures are more important than ever.

We like to use a four-quadrant balanced scorecard of measures across stakeholder, competitive performance, financial and internal effectiveness as a framework for setting KPIs for a brand, portfolio or business unit.

Measuring the performance of in-market products and pre-launch/launch products is absolutely crucial, so clear focus on what success looks like (via the brand CSFs) and a brand team culture of continuous improvement are critical to success.

By measuring the right things, the cross-functional brand team will be able to help tell the organisation:

  • Where progress has been made – on internal and external metrics
  • Where performance is heading – using leading indicators of change
  • Whether something is going wrong – and therefore a flag to make a ‘course-correction’ decision
  • When targets have been met – or not and therefore another decision is needed.

Managing performance involves a cycle of control where actual performance is compared to what was planned, using metrics. Corrective action can then be taken to optimise the situation and metrics tracked to monitor improvements.

Uptake Strategies’ recent Measurement Research, conducted by Vanessa Burrow and Stephanie Hall, highlighted six key elements of success with healthcare marketing metrics:

  1. Start with your business objectives – they must be SMART
  2. Measure progress not just end of year outcomes
  3. Align cross functionally on the best metrics and assign an owner
  4. Get the right systems and measures in place from the start
  5. Focus on a few key metrics to improve your marketing effectiveness
  6. Create a visual dashboard to easily communicate progress to all levels of the organisation.

Our recommended approach to ensure these elements of success are implemented is through the development and execution of strategic Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

KPIs are an indispensable metric that help with understanding your performance against your objectives and are used to measure the success of your organisation or the ability to evaluate the progress of a particular activity/ programme/multichannel campaign at any given time. So how do we use KPIs effectively and how do we know we are making positive progress towards a strategic objective?

The 2019 Uptake Strategies Measurement Research also conducted an audit of ten brand plans across ten different pharma/biotech companies from 2015-2018, which found only one out of ten brand plans had SMART objectives linked to their KPIs, only four out of ten brand plans contained KPIs (and only one of these brand plans contained KPIs with a clear timeline and target), and only three out of the ten brand plans included a budget for market research, measurement and tracking.

The research highlighted a significant disconnect between accepted measurement/ KPI theory and operational practice. In this increasingly complex environment where we have more access than ever before to real-time data on our customers, channels and competitors, it is critical to implement a strong set of strategic KPIs for your brand, portfolio or business unit.

When developing your brand plan, KPIs should be aligned to SMART business objectives and strategic imperatives with clear targets and timelines.

Fundamentally, it is important to remember that the best strategic KPIs are oriented around the healthcare professional, patient or payer/ decision-maker’s attitude, engagement and loyalty, at superior levels to the competition.

Ultimately companies and teams that invest time, effort and training in measurement/KPIs are going to be able to navigate the disrupted pharma/biotech world of 2020 and beyond.

Lauren Pearson is a senior account executive and Stephanie Hall is Managing Director, both at Uptake Strategies

In association with

Uptake Strategies

19th February 2020

From: Marketing



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