SpeakPharma interviews Kate Covalt, Director of Account Management, SCORR Marketing, to find out how pharmaceutical companies can draw up an effective annual marketing plan to make 2022 the best year ever. SCORR Marketing is a leading full-service marketing and communications firm in the health sciences space. Covalt talks about how to create an annual marketing plan and its benefits.

It may sound self-explanatory, but can you define the term “annual marketing plan” for our readers so that they know what it must entail?

An annual marketing plan is essentially a roadmap that identifies marketing priorities and strategies for the upcoming year, both short- and long-term. The goal is to formulate a clear vision that can unite, inspire, and drive the team. A good marketing plan must address questions like where the company is now and where it wants to be. It must also identify benchmarks and goals very clearly, and chalk out backup plans and contingencies. A clear, strategic annual marketing plan is key to a successful business.

That’s a very lucid explanation. But why, in the first place, is a marketing plan so important?

Marketing plans provide both passion and purpose, priming you for a productive year ahead. They also clarify your intent, empower your team to work together towards clearly defined goals, set the scaffolding to measure your goals and successes, keep you on budget, provide guidance for when things get unpredictable and help you act fast when new opportunities arise.

While making an annual marketing plan, where does one begin?

You begin with the SCORR Annual Planning Worksheet! The worksheet is designed to be a simple, straightforward guide with step-by-step instructions for creating an annual marketing plan and convenient layouts for every step to inspire clear organization of thoughts and details. The worksheet will help you answer key questions to shape your business in the coming year. Questions such as: are your branding, messaging, and related tactics telling the story you want your target audience to hear? Do you have a strategy in place to connect your marketing and business development team’s growth goals? And do you have flexible assets that allow your business to thrive in virtual, in-person, and hybrid sales environments?

What are the main steps for creating a plan that effectively reflects your strategy and articulates your goals?  

There are three main steps: Meet With Your Stakeholders, Break Down Your Budget, and Consider the Big Picture.

The crucial first step is to meet with your stakeholders in order to determine your business’ strategic objectives and goals. Here you will discuss your company’s short- and long-term goals, find out whether your mission or vision needs adjustment or not and identify any changes in your target audiences, key buyer personas, or buyer’s journey development, to name a few.

The second step is to break down your budget. Start by analyzing the amount spent last year on marketing initiatives and tactics, then evaluate this information alongside performance metrics to determine the value of your tactics. For example, as you are looking at your trade show investment, you will want to consider last year’s budget and how you utilized it, then take into account any adjustments within your booth strategy that can maximize your ROI.

The third step is to consider the “big picture” and plan for other major initiatives like (a) rebranding/new identity, (b) buyer messaging, and (c) upcoming merger or acquisition. These major initiatives have a major impact on your marketing needs, and therefore your marketing plan.

Since SCORR caters to life science service companies, can you tell how the annual planning worksheet assists those businesses?

Everything SCORR does is through the lens of the life sciences — an industry we’ve been experts in for over 18 years due to our connections, experience, and information.

The annual planning worksheet offers specific tips like how to navigate trade shows. Trade shows involve large investment, averaging 30 to 40 percent of our annual marketing budgets pre-Covid, dipping to 15 to 20 percent in the pandemic, and are likely to return to over 30 percent for 2022.

As opposed to the past, your annual trade show investment needs to be assessed differently, as we need to study factors such as whether your presence will be live, virtual, or a hybrid?

The Annual Planning Worksheet also offers industry-specific tips in market research, prompting you to think about what your competitors are doing, what they have done in the past and how does that affect your choices.

We learnt during the pandemic that even the best-laid plans can be forced to change. Has the Covid-19 pandemic influenced the need for annual marketing plans?

Over the past two years, we have learnt that many things are out of our control. What is in our hands is preparation. If you have a clear plan in place (with a clear goal in mind), it’s much easier to pivot when necessary to stay aligned with that final goal.

Unlike the blanket of uncertainty that weighed on us as we drafted marketing plans coming out of 2020, we are looking ahead here, at the end of 2021, with cautious optimism. As an industry, the “wait and see” days seem to be behind us, even if the pandemic isn’t.

Do you want to end this interview with some year-end planning tips?

Make your plan now! Time is of the essence — 2022 is here! Creating a solid annual marketing plan will set your business up for success in the New Year. By planning today, you can look forward with confidence, knowing you’re doing everything you can to make the next year the best it can be.

About the Author

Kate Covalt

Director of Account Management

Kate manages key global health science accounts at SCORR, functioning as the main point of contact for her clients and as the liaison to SCORR’s internal team of researchers, copywriters, designers, and developers. Her reliable and diligent work ethic provides solutions for clients, using specialized strategy and creative to bridge the gap between their goals and tangible results. Kate’s focus is on ensuring that integrated campaigns, launches, and all marketing initiatives are orchestrated on strategy and in a seamless manner that improves ROI for her clients. Kate’s client experience includes Advarra, Crown Bioscience, Cryoport, Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing, MPI Research, Recro Gainesville, SNBL, and Theorem Clinical Research.