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The Pharma Brand Planners’ Blog: Part 1

Part 1: Calling all Global and Regional Brand Planners

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

Here we are in April and if you’re a global or regional marketing or commercial leader, you will surely be busy working on your strategic plans for 2022-2023.

At this time of year, I’m often contacted by global franchise or brand leaders, sometimes in a bit of a panic, wondering how to go about developing the best possible brand plan.

As a former European marketing manager for a neurosciences launch brand and now a brand planning consultant and facilitator, I know the challenges – and that panicky feeling – very well.

So where do you begin? For global and regional leaders, you need to start by asking yourself a few frank questions – and give yourself some honest answers:

  • Are you clear on what format your plan needs to take?
  • Have you solicited quality input from your key local colleagues across marketing, medical, market access and other key support functions?
  • Are you in tune with what your senior management are looking for? And do you have a healthy sense of innovation and independence of spirit to tackle to make your brand or franchise successful in the coming years?
  • Are you working flat out and daunted by the task ahead of you? If so, get some outside help in now with a clear brief and with people you trust
  • Have you created a plan of attack for creating a high quality global or regional plan? Dates, actions, outputs, measures of success? If not, create a plan for your plan for the coming 8 weeks NOW!

Your local country teams are counting on you for quality strategic guidance on brand strategy, priorities and what you will deliver as an above country team to ensure they are successful.

You have a tough job, you have a ton of global, regional and local cross-functional stakeholders. That makes it almost impossible to please everyone, but your plan will provide a critical guide to many teams and significant amount of corporate investment. Most significantly, it could also have an impact on patients’ lives.

Speaking of patients…
How patient-centric is your plan? Is your target patient front and centre in your plan? Do you have objectives and measures about how many patients you will diagnose, treat, improve their quality of life? Great plans will have a patient / customer scorecard to show the great contribution we make as an industry.

So who are you going to work with? List out your key team members and how they can contribute to the plan. How are you going to lead a planning process that engages all of these key team members – harnessing their functional expertise and disease area knowledge whilst aligning team members with the overall strategic objectives and strategic imperatives of the brand. How clear is your brand vision?

Often the future vision, brand values and brand purpose is something that we give little time to and yet a global or regional team has a critical role in setting this direction and then inspiring, communicating and upskilling the organisation to deliver.

Are your senior management bought in to your brand and disease area? If not, get them out with physicians, patients and get them in action and engaged emotionally!

How strong is your existing plan?
Now for the confrontational bit: what do your local teams say about the usefulness of last year’s plan? How strong are your current strategies? How useful are your current programmes? Asking these questions – and listening carefully – can help your planning efforts wherever you are on the spectrum.

Are you clear on what you are looking for from your local country brand teams? It’s worth setting out this guidance – it will help them enormously and then will help you when you are in review mode.

A final word on all the things which get in the way of effective brand planning. Chief among these today are the sustained pressures on costs, team resources and capabilities, with many teams asked to do more with less.

Yet spending time on the right analysis, research, insights and planning time are vital: without them you can’t hope to create the very best patient-centric, innovative, measurable and inspirational healthcare plans. So how do we change that? That’s the challenge that we need to address as an industry.

Available on PMLive