There was a time when planning was easy. We undertook a robust internal and external analysis, developed our OTSW, identified the major opportunities and threats and bob’s your uncle the marketing plan evolved. Alas no more!

We have started to adjust to a world in which rationing really bites, a world in which cost constraint is the new reality and a world in which the value of our brands is decided for us, but are we ready for the next evolution?

The CDF and Patient Access Schemes have become almost accepted as the default funding mechanism but for how long? The latest policy developments clearly indicate that we cannot afford to reply on the current status quo being maintained.

As we immerse ourselves in the strategic brand planning process for another year how do we plan for the unknown unknowns? For example, does your brand plan include a contingency for potentially catastrophic change to its funding? If not it ought to.

With increasing budget deficits it is clear that the health service is no longer truly affordable. The writing is surely on the wall. Funding devolution is coming, first in Manchester and now Cornwall. What might this mean for your brand? Do you have the plans in place to manage it?

Only by integrating customer intelligence into your planning will you have any chance of seeing and planning for the future. It’s time for marketeers to really get in touch with the customers, to listen like they have never listened before and to partner with the NHS in developing solutions.

We need to reinvent the pricing model and explore lifecycle, portfolio or patient lifetime pricing strategies. We need to go even further than that and consider how our brands would measure up under co-funding. If patients really did have control over ‘their NHS spend’ would they choose your product? If not, why not? What could you do to change this?

We need to be part of the solution not part of the problem. We must develop more creative, customer and patient centric pricing models.

Only those that are prepared to think the unthinkable and plan for it will be the winners. Will you be one of them?