Pharma marketing moved beyond the "4 P's" decades ago (well...some did). Isn't it time to move beyond the good old "Situation Analysis" too?
In most strategic and business plans, today the best performing companies start with a high level "environmental scan." Why aren't we doing the same for Brand Plans? And while we are at it, Brand plans are not just about the selling the brand, we need to be "bigger than the brand" to actually support and drive brands and brand value. Quite simply, helping to improve health outcomes in one's therapeutic area or even across a healthcare system IS good business for both company and product brands.
So what is the starting point? We replace conventional "situation and market analysis" with "Brand Scans" and hypothesis-driven scenarios.
What would be the key elements of a Brand Scan?
Start with the helicopter view: For all past and future sources of business for the Brand, do a quick an environmental scan that looks the key drivers of the Epidemiologic Evolution™ and Market Potential.
From there, be hypothesis drive. Ask, "What if...". According to a recent study by MIT, top performing companies use forward thinking hypotheses to test possibilities and to challenge whether or not current market dynamics and constraints are static, steady, fluid or transitory.
In the process, you will be able to hone in on what is really important and what is not important in the big schema. Hypothesis driven analysis also quickly identifies critical gaps in knowledge, and key questions that may need to be answered, but in the meantime, allows for a 'go forward' directive.
Rather than be stymied and unable to move forward until we have all the answers (which we will never have), use the "what if we're wrong in our assumptions" to test potential future scenarios, assign risks and play out potential strategic responses that directly or indirectly can drive value to the brand as well as to, of course, the health of the target population. Then, make a decision on the best course of action and proceed, even while you may be obtaining the missing information.
Another important element of Brand Scanning is to pick your benchmarks, "what or who is successful" in this space or in analogous scenarios. Too often this is where real myopia sets in. We allow audits to define our competition by chemical entity or mode of action. Our greater competition could be consumer ignorance or apathy; lack of reimbursement or sound health economics; or those creating barriers to brand access. Look at diabetes and how despite billions of dollars of effort and healthcare support, the world just keeps getting fatter and more hyperglycemic. That's because we are all focusing on treatment with medicines, not life style, food systems, and even cultural reform.
The mere term, Situation Analysis implies short term and "what's been happening" mentalities. It's time to shift to Brand Scanning as a starting point to truly drive and shape future healthcare value and outcomes.