This is the final article in a series of three based on findings included in SCORR Marketing’s “2013 Marketing Trends in Drug Development Services.” Download the full report here.
1: An Annual Marketing Plan
There’s no way around it: Developing an annual marketing plan is difficult. It’s the trudge of marketing. A marketing plan is a meticulous outline of initiatives that will move you closer to your target position. It’s the actuation of your strategy, and drafting an annual marketing plan requires a lot of coordination and detailed work. If a company has never created one before, the first time is always the hardest.
Do you have a marketing plan?
We asked respondents whether their company had a marketing plan in place. Nearly a quarter said no. While that’s a pretty high number, we also heard things like the following from those who said yes: “We do one each year, but don’t adhere to it strictly,” and “We’re developing one with our BD team. … It’s largely happenstance. When someone who is willing to pay contacts you, your focus becomes what they need done.”
In other words, we got the impression that building an annual marketing plan was often perceived as more of a task than a constructive exercise. Given the effort building and utilizing an annual marketing plan entails, it’s no
surprise that many companies approach it as a necessary evil. But an annual marketing plan really is an asset. It holds a company to its strategy and keeps the marketing team accountable to execute what it sets out to do.
If your company lacks an annual marketing plan, or if it needs recharged, start by including these three things:
1: A Goal Statement
This can be very high-level. All it needs to be is a sentence or two that says where you are today and where you want to be tomorrow. The rest of your plan is just a means to get you closer to that target position.
2: Assessments of Your Company and Your Market
There are numerous ways to go about this: SWOT analyses, competitive analyses, client perception reports, etc. These assessments include research and intelligence that help you explore business strategies: What can you leverage and what can you work on improving? What trends could pose opportunities or threats? How will you address them?
3: A Budget
When you define a budget, you’re not forfeiting a set dollar amount for a year. You’re setting a number, and your team’s job is to maximize that budget. Budgets prevent overspending and underperformance.
With these three things, your team should have enough to start building the rest of the annual marketing plan, which should include things like calendars (media, trade shows, speaking events, etc.) and tactics for monitoring and continuously improving initiatives.
2: A Communications Plan
We found that almost half of respondents don’t have a public relations/communications plan in place. Of course, 100 percent of companies should be able to answer yes to this. Companies that don’t have a plan in place leave themselves open to public relations disasters. In an age
where news can be dispersed near-instantaneously, it’s important to establish control over a company’s image to ensure all communications, whether good or bad, are portrayed correctly. If a company isn’t prepared to proactively manage the collective dialogue about its image, it’s a problem.
Do you have a public relations/communications plan?
However, this is an area that can be fixed rather quickly; it just needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. A communications plan will help you address the who, what, when, where and why of how you’ll approach your audience. There are myriad ways to go about designing a plan. Some companies only have a brief section in their plan for online communications, while others may specify best practices for their website, individual social media networks, industry forums and so on.
In this industry, where the work is heavily regulated and often bears some implicit risk, one frequently overlooked piece of a communications plan is a crisis plan. A crisis plan provides an “if X, then Y” framework that not only helps a company communicate in the event of a crisis, but also compels a company to think through best- and worst-case scenarios. In the event of misconduct, a technical glitch, natural disaster, etc., a company will always be at an advantage when it can approach a situation with forethought.
3: Client Perception and Feedback
Client satisfaction and, by extension, loyalty, is a chief driver of any company’s bottom line because retaining a client is far more cost-efficient than capturing a new one. When we asked respondents if their company regularly asks for feedback, nearly a quarter said no.
Do you regularly ask for feedback from your clients on ways to improve?
What many companies don’t realize is that studies have consistently indicated that the disparity between completely satisfied clients and those who are merely satisfied accounts for a larger gap between retention and defection than one might expect. In a classic study
conducted by Xerox, the company found that within an 18-month time span, its completely satisfied clients were six times more likely to repurchase than satisfied clients.1 Put simply, the only loyal clients are completely satisfied clients, while ambivalent clients are more prone to defect.
Client satisfaction surveying is a cost-effective way to get real insight into how a company can improve its offerings and operations. Current and past clients can identify shortcomings that often fade into the internal team’s periphery, but still matter. For example, a client may be completely satisfied with a company’s offerings, but not with its billing processes. Perhaps there are value-added services that would be easy and potentially very profitable for a company to implement, but it fails to see the significance of them when it lacks an outside perspective.
Access the Full Report
The information in this article is based on findings included in SCORR Marketing’s “Trends in Drug Development Services Marketing 2013.” This report is now available to download for free.