Strategic Positioning for Healthcare Organizations

February 27, 2015
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Strategic_planningIn my work with global pharmaceutical, diagnostics and medical device companies, I am often called upon to help clients struggling to develop their strategic positioning. Sometimes my clients have a well defined, systematic and robust approach to developing their positioning and building their plans, and they just need help going through the process. But sometimes, more often with smaller organizations and start-ups, they don’t.

Strategic_planningIn my work with global pharmaceutical, diagnostics and medical device companies, I am often called upon to help clients struggling to develop their strategic positioning. Sometimes my clients have a well defined, systematic and robust approach to developing their positioning and building their plans, and they just need help going through the process. But sometimes, more often with smaller organizations and start-ups, they don’t. Sometimes companies really need help creating the process first, and then going through that process to develop their plan.

While all organizations are different, the basic principles of good strategic communications planning can be consistently applied. When developing a marketing plan for healthcare organizations, here are some basic steps to keep in mind.

It Won’t Be Much of a Plan if Nobody Supports It

Bring your people together during the planning process, so that what you create has the support of your team. Build consensus, and acheive buy-in, along the way and throughout the planning process. The worst thing you can do in strategic planning is to create a plan behind closed doors, and then force it upon an unsuspecting team, expecting their immediate buy-in and support. If you want your people to align with your plan, positioning and messaging, then let them be part of creating it. If your strategic plan is going to be comprehensive, it will require alignment with all parts of your organization. So make sure they are represented in your planning team. 

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Know Yourself, and Your Market

What is your company’s primary goal? What is your mission? What market(s) does your company serve? Who are your customers? Sounds simple, right? But sometimes, especially in fast growth organizations like health IT and medical device companies, the answers to these questions can become lost in the weeds. Spend some time thinking about these questions and developing clear answers to them. They will become fundamental components in your plan.

Start with the End in Mind

In the pharmaceutical industry during the 1990’s, a comprehsensive product planning, research and development process evolved called Target Product Profiling (TPP). The basic concept behind TPP is to start with the end in mind. Define the ideal label for a proposed drug, and then build a clinical development program, research and development protocols and resource allocation strategy designed to deliver on that label. TPP was embraced by the industry, and many of the top 25 global pharmaceutical companies adopted it and created TPP processes of their own. In 1997, the FDA published a draft guidance document, including industry case studies and a proposed template for companies to partner with the administration on creating, submitting and validating a TPP.

Learning about TPP and the basic premise behind it can be very helpful in designing a strategic planning process for your organization that delivers on your goals. 

NEVER Forget the Importance of Culture

Epic fail. That’s what happens when your strategic plan doesn’t take into account your corporate culture. Here’s a brilliant quote that I came across on LinkedIn, which really hits the nail on the head. I want to thank Diogo Moreira-Rato, Group President Europe and Canada at Smith & Nephew, for sharing it:

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strategic positioning

Does your strategic plan align with your culture? If not, in what ways does your culture need to change? This is where the strategic planning process can become a reality check, and a real test of an organization’s desire to engage in authentic organizational improvement. Because if you are not willing to take an honest look at culture as part of this process, your strategic plan is doomed to fail.

These are just a few things to think about when considering strategic positioning for healthcare organizations–or any other organizations for that matter. There is so much more to consider. For those who are curious and want to learn more about strategic planning, the Free Management Library is a wonderful resource.

And if you want to talk further about strategic positioning for your organization, please feel free to get in touch with us.