Making the Most of 2016 Dollars

Dear House Rules,

I can’t believe end-of-year is just weeks away. I’m a brand manager in a large pharmaceutical company and (fortunately) I have a some money left in my 2016 marketing budget. I don’t want to spend for spending’s sake, of course—but at the same time, I know unused funds could put my future budget requests at risk. How can I make the most of my remaining budget before December 31?


Counting the Days

Dear Counting:

The need to spend quickly—but also wisely—is a challenge many marketing managers face this time of year. There are a number of ways to use your funds prudently that will benefit both the brand and the larger company. Take a deep breath, eat your Wheaties, and get ready for what may be a hectic (but ultimately gratifying) 6 weeks. Here are some tips:

  • Pick your agency’s brain. This is no time to go it alone. Task your agency with brainstorming ideas that can be executed in the short-term, that amortize your 2016 expenditures to date, and that speak to your 2017 marketing objectives. Your agency team should know your company’s internal landscape well enough to know what’s doable and what’s not. For example …
  • Don’t attempt to produce new content — unless you happen to have an unusually underworked med-legal committee and little competition from other brands to get on the review docket. Enough said.
  • Repurpose existing content to reach important secondary audiences. For example, an earlier email blast to physicians or specialists could make an impact if sent to influencers who work beside them—nurse practitioners, RNs, physician assistants, even residents. If you haven’t reached out to allied health professionals in the past, purchase some lists and tweak the email’s call-to-action to help build your own database.
  • Turn an eye toward back-burner “infrastructure” projects. Tasks like updating your brand’s style guidelines, formalizing product claims documents, and creating onboarding decks often fall by the wayside during the year. Taking care of housekeeping needs like these will serve your brand well in 2017 and beyond. And they’re often items you can delegate to your agency partner.
  • Invest in 2017. If you have 2017 initiatives that will be a heavy lift or have a long ramp-up time—for instance, a new indication, website expansion, or new marketing campaign—start the legwork now. Ask clinical consultants to generate thinking and background that will help your team prepare for the new indication. Hold creative brainstorming sessions with your agency about the new campaign.
  • Take advantage of the quiet holiday week. Your company, like many large pharma companies, may be closed the last week of the year. But even if you’re not working, your outside vendors and partners may be open for business and eager to proceed with the back-end work—think programming, copyediting, printing—on new projects you’ve started. Make calls now to find out; vendor availability may help inform your choice of tactics.

Of course, don’t forget to reach out to your peers who manage other brands within your company. Chances are they’ve felt end-of-year spending pressures in the past, and may have useful advice.

We wish you a productive homestretch and a successful 2017!

About Xavier Creative House

Founded in 2013, Xavier Creative House (XCH) is an award-winning healthcare creative agency specializing in pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device. XCH’s global team of brand builders and healthcare marketers, tech-savvy go-getters, and innovative dream-vetters are passionate about the big idea that changes behavior in the healthcare marketplace. They believe life is about connections and that healthcare is about life. That is why XCH delivers bold and evocative creative solutions, amplified by meaningful technology, to energize brands and authentically connect with patients and HCPs.

Where Healthcare Brands Live®

For more information, contact

Sunny White
Founder & CEO of Xavier Creative House