For something a bit different and fun, this month we are going to be talking about the most common reasons we hear pharmacy owners not marketing their pharmacies. Over the past decade we have talked with a LOT of pharmacy owners about what marketing can do for their business. For the most part, those we speak with usually fall under one of the categories below. If you find yourself under one of these categories, we encourage you to give us a call.
1. It’s All About the Money
We’ve got good news and bad news on this one. Let’s start with the bad news. First, we can’t do anything about PBMs and DIR fees. Those will be a problem for everyone until things change on a state and federal level. The good news is that you aren’t alone – literally every pharmacy is dealing with PBMs and DIRs and most of them manage to find a way to do marketing within their budget.
For some more good news, there are a LOT of cost-effective marketing strategies out there.
- Social Media is an excellent marketing avenue for the cost-conscious pharmacy. It is a cheap (free if you don’t pay to advertise) and effective way to get your voice out in your community and showcase what makes you and your team special.
- Having your website up to date is another great way to keep your community current on your pharmacy’s goings on. Provide information on products, services, sales, pharmacy updates and get feedback from your patients about what you can do to improve their overall health.
- Geofencing is a relatively new marketing avenue that is significantly more affordable than traditional marketing (check out our geofencing blog for what you need to know). Plus, it offers you the option of tracking how many people came into your pharmacy. You can also compare campaign results to in-house reports to confirm that the campaign is effective.
- In-store materials including flyers, posters, brochures, and bagstuffers, are great ways to educate your patients about your pharmacy’s offerings. Keep it simple, use designs that are eye-catching and providing just enough information to start a conversation. A lot of pharmacy owners assume current customers know what they offer, when often times they don’t.
- Email Marketing is another great tool that is affordable and simple to implement. If your pharmacy has given COVID-19 vaccinations then you likely have a lot of new email addresses in your database at your disposal, so why not take advantage of it. Even if you send one email per month you are still getting your name out in the community and in front of people who may not be patients already.
2. Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That
Every pharmacy owner I have ever met wears a minimum of eight hats, gets into the pharmacy at five in the morning, never eats or takes bathroom breaks, and leaves at eight at night. I may be exaggerating just a bit, but to be honest it isn’t that far off from many of the pharmacy owners we work with. When it comes to finding time to do marketing, it is not easy, but it does need to happen. The world of pharmacy is constantly evolving and changing, and if you are waiting until the perfect time when things finally slow down, then you will likely start marketing the last few months of the year you retire.
As an alternative, I HIGHLY encourage you to delegate your marketing responsibilities to a team member. Someone who can manage the day-to-day and keep you in the loop on bigger marketing campaigns. You don’t have to go so far as to hiring a salesperson, but simply utilizing your current team members who are vested in the company and want to see it grow and succeed, is enough.
3. I Have No Clue What I’m Doing
Often times this comes with over-thinking about what you should do. When it comes to marketing your pharmacy, take a step back and keep it simple.
o What are three things you want your community and your patients to know about your pharmacy?
o What makes you unique? Don’t say personal service – everyone does, meaning it doesn’t make you unique.
o What areas do you want your pharmacy to grow in the next 3-5 years?
Once you have these ideas, work on drafting up a simple message. Be honest and straightforward. ‘At My Pharmacy we specialize in helping patients get the most out of their medication regimens. We can package them up in easy-to-use packaging and offer high quality supplements to ensure optimal health. Our goal is to be everyone’s first choice to find the healthcare support they need.’ You can get more complex as you dive into specific services, but don’t forget that most people don’t live in this world and need an easy-to-understand reason to use the service.
It’s also important to try all the different kinds of marketing avenues (radio, newspaper, email, social media, geofencing, billboard, in-store materials, sponsorships, community events, giveaways, customer appreciation events, etc.) multiple times to determine what works best within your community. Trying something once and failing, doesn’t mean that it never works, it simply means you need to alter your approach.
4. Show Me the Money
The first thing you need to know about marketing is that it is VERY difficult to accurately measure ROI, and here’s why. Say you are running a radio ad, have a decent following on Facebook, start geofencing around some chain pharmacies, and just sponsored a local baseball team – all within the past two months. Next thing you know you start getting some more new patients, so you ask,
“How did you hear about us?”
And they respond,
“I heard about you from someone/somewhere”
In reality, maybe they heard your radio ad 5 times over the last week on their way to work, got your ad on their phone after purchasing their last prescription at the chain pharmacy, saw one of your Facebook posts that their cousin liked about how you are now offering COVID-19 vaccines or their nephew happens to be on the baseball team you sponsored. So, who’s to say what brought them in to your store? We are all so over-exposed to advertisements daily that most of us don’t know where or how we initially heard about a new company. They are just there one day.
The point of this is not to discourage you, but to help show how just because someone says they heard about you from someone/somewhere, doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t need to do any marketing. Additionally, just because you can’t directly attribute every dollar of marketing to a direct increase in sales/new patients doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.
5. Don’t Need It
We often hear this when talking with pharmacies in more rural areas. There is only one pharmacy, one doctor, one hospital, and everyone knows who they are and what they offer. If you fall under this category, odds are good you don’t need to do AS MUCH marketing, but you should still not pass it up completely.
Staying active on website updates, social media, email blasts, customer appreciation events and customer surveys are all great and simple ways to show your community you are there for them beyond just filling their prescriptions. Additionally, actively reaching out to the local doctors to gauge interest on new products or services is a great way to keep those relationships open. As we said before, the world of pharmacy is constantly evolving and if your pharmacy is evolving with it, you will need to engage in some marketing to keep your community from falling behind.
Additionally, patients are constantly targeted by insurance companies, as well as Amazon Pharmacy, to use mail order services. You can guarantee that these companies are spending thousands of dollars each month to convert customers, so it will be crucial for your pharmacy to stay ahead of the curve by actively promoting the benefits of shopping local.
As I said before, if you find yourself falling under one of these groups and are interested in talking about what you can do for your pharmacy, submit the contact form on this website, send us a chat message or give us a call at 515-280-2914.