One of the most important aspects of marketing your independent pharmacy is establishing your brand. In simplest terms, a brand is a name, symbol or design that differentiates you from other pharmacies in your community. Your brand represents your identity and what you offer to customers. When you first opened your pharmacy, you decided what you wanted your logo to look like, what your tagline would be, and your overall “look” of your pharmacy. All this correlates to your brand. As your business continues to grow it is important to regularly review your brand to make sure it is still on point with your goals, services, and position within the market. For example, if you now offer weight loss or nutrition classes, you may want to update your brand to reflect this change.
Once you have a brand established, make sure to stick to it, and make your message consistent. To develop a strong brand, you must keep showing it to consumers and reiterate the message. This means, using the same colors, tagline, and messaging in all your marketing. Don’t deviate from your core brand, or it won’t be established in people’s mind. Do you ever see the Starbucks logo in another color? Or McDonald’s arches look different? No. While they may switch up what they are promoting, the overall branding stays the same. Remember it takes a person seeing the same message a minimum of 8-13 times before they take any sort of action.
Positioning Your Pharmacy
Having a strong brand is only part of the marketing equation. Another is what is your position in your market? What will you be known for to consumers, prescribers, or other local business owners? To be competitive in your market, you need to establish services or products that are unique to your pharmacy, so people can associate you with something, and pick you out among competitors. Are you known as the go-to for compounding needs, or the nutrition/wellness pharmacy because you sell high-end vitamins and supplements? Try to pick two to three things that are unique to you, and not have it be personal service unless you are the only independent in town. Too often we rely on having that be our differentiator, but almost all independents say they offer personal service, so how is yours different than the other pharmacy to a customer that has never used either?
As a locally owned business, typically independent pharmacy owners are involved in their communities through donations, participating events, or serving on councils. It is easy to be a part of everything, and spend a lot of money doing so, without really making a presence known. Our recommendation is to pick a handful of non-profits you want to partner with throughout the year, and only give to those organizations. That way you can give more time and money to a select few and make a bigger splash rather than giving to many and getting lost in the shuffle. Plus, this helps you keep on track with your overall marketing budget.
Marketing your brand goes beyond just in your local community, but online as well. To be a successful small business, you must make digital marketing part of your overall plan. To do that, it is important to be active on Facebook, by not only posting regularly to your page, but also replying to comments, answering questions, and addressing reviews (good and bad). In addition, make sure your two or three differentiators are prominent on your website, Google My Business Page, and all social media platforms. Not participating in this part of marketing does not mean you won’t have a presence online. People can still talk about your pharmacy through online reviews and social media comments. So as the business owner, it is important to control the messaging, or someone else will.
One thing we recommend is for clients to do a brand review each year. Take an in-depth look at your marketing materials, interior/exterior of the pharmacy, online presence and more. Does your brand look tired, or out-of-date? Ask your employees, what does your brand mean to them? Could they tell you? After reviewing your brand, is it time for a complete overall, major update or just some minor tweaks? Here is how each of those changes are defined:
Complete Overall: Change your brand and positioning. This should only be done for established pharmacies that have completely changed what they now offer or have gone through an acquisition and want to make that change right from the start. If you do go this route, plan on marketing your new look a minimum of 3 months for people to know what your new branding is, especially if you are changing your name. We also recommend committing at least 25% of your overall budget to brand marketing. The last thing you want is people thinking you are a different pharmacy because you didn’t market the change effectively.
Major Update: Redoing a website or changing the interior of your pharmacy are examples of major updates. Your still have your core brand but are making improvements to major components of it. It is still important to promote these changes for 1-3 months, but less money is needed.
Minor Tweaks: If your marketing materials are out of date, and need a refresh, it will not change your overall brand, but it could be harming it. If you have messaging out there that is old and outdated, people could be confused on what you do. Make sure to keep materials updated to what you are currently offering.
Having a strong brand is an important part of your overall marketing strategy. If you need any help with brand marketing, please reach out to us today.