Smart Planning for an Uncertain New Year

Well, we made it to December. Soon we will say goodbye to 2023 and all the ups and downs that came with it. To be frank, it was quite a different year than I anticipated. Instead of seeing the end of the pandemic and all the negative circumstances that came with it, it is clear we are still dealing with the consequences, including new COVID strains.

While we are getting closer to whatever a “new normal” will be, we are still wading through waters of uncertainty that likely won’t calm down next year. We don’t know what kind of regulatory environment we’ll face in 2024. Medicare Advantage plans have captured over 50% of Medicare enrollees. In 2024, a final ruling will go into effect to set up more guardrails for these plans, including consumer protections around marketing, which will also create pressure on pharma drug pricing. Beyond the regulatory challenge, we have to consider impacts of the November presidential election as well as the proposed reimbursement rates for 2024 from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which were shockingly lower than expected for healthcare professionals, adding stress to a group that has been under unprecedented strain for the past three years. Add to this stress the fact that pharma sales reps are still struggling to get face-to-face meetings with doctors, and sales rep positions have yet to rebound to pre-pandemic levels.

Although 2024 looks like another year of uneasiness for healthcare marketers, we can take comfort in the fact that there are some evergreen truths to help us thrive in challenging times. As you plan for 2024, ask yourself these three questions.

 

Question 1: Are you solving the right problem?

At Luckie, our ethos is that business solutions must begin with analytics. It’s an approach that helps us quickly find the real business problem, accelerating the likelihood of success for any solution.

To do it right, you’ll need to:

  • Define your business challenge in terms of issues that drive demand. Is your core issue revenue or profit or both?
  • Define strategic levers that can and will impact demand. Increasing consumer engagement with the brand is important, but a better strategic lever is measurable and actionable, such as increasing the number of new users by X% or increasing prescriptions per year by X.
  • Acknowledge and explore the implications of any regulatory and legal requirements that must be met within potential solutions.
  • Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) that clearly show what success will look like. Demand-driving KPIs are usually things like setting specific metrics for the number of new prescribers or consumers obtained, the number of customers maintained or the percent of potential customers reached.
  • Identify sources of data needed to understand and ultimately impact demand. If not already set up, build simple data transfer processes without dramatically affecting source systems or placing the burden on IT. Start by mapping out your current sources of data to identify gaps that have a direct impact on analysis (e.g., prescriptions, which prescribers are prescribing). Armed with this information, you’re ready to have a conversation with IT on where your data resides and how to gain access to the key data you need.
  • Build the marketing plan. With actionable strategic levers, the plan should include initiatives that are either proven to yield KPI results or can be measured to impact KPIs.
  • Optimize your solutions. This means being ready to pivot in real time if the KPIs you set aren’t achieved. Advances in technology now offer digital solutions that can be swapped out, expanded or discontinued in an instant, but you need real-time data to pivot to the most effective revenue-growing activities.

 

Question 2: Can you justify your spending decisions?

As you complete your 2024 marketing plans, do you know which marketing tactics are the most impactful to your business? Which ones will have the best ROI? In a tough economy with a lot of unknowns, be prepared to defend your investment decisions. If you can’t recite the most important tactics in your plan, invest time and resources now to find out which ones they are. Start with looking at your metrics from your 2023 tactics. Hound your analytics team or media vendors for performance data. If you don’t, your marketing budget may be the first one cut when financial times get tough.

 

Question 3: What’s your digital plan?

Digital should be integrated throughout your marketing plans for both healthcare consumers and HCPs. The pandemic only accelerated the shift from relying solely on sales representatives to deliver your messages to HCPs, and at the same time healthcare consumers are seeking their own healthcare options through social media, the internet or telehealth options. Both scenarios involve bypassing the primary care doctor’s office. If you haven’t invested in an omnichannel digital strategy, you need to catch up fast or risk being left behind as the dialogue between HCPs and consumers moves outside of the office to digital channels.

 

Before wrapping up 2023 and spending well-deserved time off with friends and family, take a moment to look at your plans for 2024 to make sure you have the right data and insights to move your business forward even if the prognosis for 2024 remains unclear. If you are looking for a strategic marketing agency that can help you pinpoint business challenges and help your business thrive in 2024, contact john.petersen@luckie.com to learn more about Luckie Health.

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