6 tips on making it happen and retaining your sanity.
1. Get in the right mindset: see this as a leadership challenge
I naturally like to think positively and in terms of opportunity. Now is the perfect time for you to showcase your skills and your ability to lead virtually, an essential skill and one that will sift the wheat from the chaff when it comes to promotion and remuneration review time.
2. Don't freak out...
At the end of the day, no brand is truly led on a yearly cycle because if things aren't working then strategies should be amended as and when, not just brand plan is coming round. Remember, the yearly brand plan cycle is an opportunity to put an internal business case forward to secure funding (against other brands and markets) to support a particular business strategy as well as build strong cross-functional and senior leadership team endorsement for your plan.
3. Have a beginning hypothesis in mind
You need to have a starting hypothesis in mind otherwise you will be trying to herd cats, which is no fun, especially virtually. Use the process to test and refine the starting hypothesis with all stakeholders e.g. sales, medical, regulatory, insights team as well as your partners (incl. agencies), so on and so forth. There is no better way to really get to the guts of what your stakeholder thinks about your plan than by meeting them 1 on 1 and virtually. You can look at them in the white of the eyes... they cannot escape because they should be no interruptions or distractions available. This will be a lengthy process of course but all
cross-functional heads should canvas the feedback and insights of their respective teams and bring this back to you, the brand lead.
4. Use the process to build strong engagement with your cross functional partners
The second critical benefit of a yearly brand plan is engagement of the cross-functional team, no better way to achieve this than by asking questions and listening mindfully to the answers on a 1on1 call... Don't underestimate the 'by-product' of the brand planning process. Because those cross functional team members don't report to you and should be treated as 'volunteers' when it comes to implementation, so best you put some fire in their bellies sooner rather than later!
5. Keep your boss informed and engaged throughout your journey
This is an absolute essential step. You don’t want to get your cross-functional team all aligned with your thinking without your boss on board.
6. Lean on your agencies for creativity and bringing your plan to life
Once the overall strategy and ballpark funds are crafted, with a nod from the business head, the fun begins and agencies can start to bring this to life and help you turn your business case into the performance it needs to be on the day.
Have I missed anything?
Remember, I’ve been in your shoes and I’m here to help if you need another pair of hands or some advice!