Fish where the Fish are…

Fish where the Fish are…

Objectives, Goals, Strategic Drivers, Strategic Objectives, Key Strategic Imperatives, Strategies, Tactics, Critical Success Factors, Key Success Factors, Multichannel, Social Media Strategy, KPIs, lead/lag indicators, Customer, Stakeholders, Long Range plan, Strat plans, Brand Strategic plan, Integrated Plans of Action, Brand Plans of Action, POAs – STOP!!! My head hurts just thinking about all the different company jargon. We have got ourselves into a bit of a muddle over the last few years and maybe we have made it too complicated.

As we sit down to review yet another set of marketing planning framework templates, our hearts sink. We continue to focus on sets of data capture which can be badged under the next new acronym or be put in a chart and called a KPI. The art of planning – and yes, we can call it an ‘art’ – has been lost, as very few plans take the ‘brave option’ and really apply insight to develop innovative strategies (where alternatives have been considered) and related actions to meet well thought through objectives. Instead, marketers are often forced to take the ‘safe option’ to do what they have always done, to deliver objectives often pushed down to them by senior management using the actions/tactics they always have. Maybe we are being too harsh, as there are many excellent marketers in our industry. However, our observations extend over 30 pharmaceutical companies, 20 countries and nearly 300 plans.

The above is maybe not surprising as ‘pharma’– as an industry – has spent more time and money on inventing new planning frameworks with new jargon rather than investing in its marketers. Strategic planning and general marketing training has been de-prioritised and many of the core marketing skills and experience have been lost. In parallel, our environment has changed and the digital world has evolved with many of our customers now ‘digital natives’. This now gives us many more channels to use to engage with our customers, which we have embraced with alacrity….‘Let’s produce a website’, ‘I need an app’!

The medical environment has evolved too with biotech innovation very much at the forefront. We only have to look at the recent FDA approval of Novartis’s CAR-T cell therapy as just one example of ground-breaking innovation. These types of therapies are being introduced into complex customer environments where having an innovative new therapy is not always a guarantee of success. The industry has a responsibility to help to make therapies available to as many people who need them as possible whilst still meeting business objectives. Strong strategic planning and marketing skills will be critical to make this happen.

Perhaps we are being too simplistic but do we just have to ‘fish where the fish are’ and use the correct rod and bait? What do we mean? Well, let’s boil it down to the basic principles of marketing – and yes, we still refer to the 2nd edition by Kotler, Armstrong, Saunders and Wong (a book given out after attending my first marketing training course) as the principles remain the same and we maintain will be ever thus. Vision, Environmental Analysis, Objectives, Strategy, Marketing Mix, Action Programme, Budget, Control and Implementation. However, these titles mean nothing if we do not have the knowledge to understand what needs to go into each section, the capabilities to gain insight into who our customers are, what they want and need, what we need to give them and how we engage with them.

Catching bigger fish or more fish does not start with the rod and the bait, but the decisions made by your marketers on where to fish. We at Cormis believe that your marketers are the foundation to your success and it is through recognising and nurturing the untapped potential of every individual within marketing that you will achieve organisational excellence, and put ‘food on the table for dinner’. We have worked with marketing teams to simplify the approach to marketing and enable them to get back to the art of marketing – despite the proliferation of jargon – to bring business success.

Want to unharness the untapped potential in your marketers? Give us a call – we would love to show you how to get to a few new fishing spots. So, let’s go fishing – simple really!

For more information contact:
Dan Masquelier: Cormis UK +44 (0)1932 903 060
Sheila Duffy – Cyr: Cormis US +1 610 547 2239

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