Being an integral and active part of the community has always been a key point for independent pharmacies. By participating in chamber events, parades, festivals, and health fairs pharmacy owners are getting their name and face out in the community. Unfortunately, thanks to the pandemic, many pharmacies have had to pause or cancel most community engagement events. To make up for this lack of face-time, let’s talk about some alternative ways to continue community relations in a COVID friendly way.
If you have read our other blogs, you have probably figured out that we at GRX are BIG proponents of utilizing digital marketing as much as possible. It is cheap, effective, and a great way to establish, and build, a relationship with your community.
Social media. At a minimum, your pharmacy should be on Facebook. However, it is worth also posting regularly to other social media platforms like your Google Business page and Twitter. Doing so helps boost your search engine rankings and allows you to target different groups of people. Take some time each month to develop videos, posts, pharmacy updates, or anything you think your community would like and schedule them ahead of time to save you from forgetting to post something later.
Email. If you do not already collect an email from your patients, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to not only sell your services but engage with them. By providing a monthly email with basic information (i.e. COVID vaccine updates, health or wellness resources, product or service highlights, meet the team) you can keep your patients engaged, informed, and give yourself an avenue to upsell your products and services.
Geofencing: For those of you unfamiliar with geofencing it is essentially targeting people based on the location of their phone. As an example, you can target people walking into a chain pharmacy and serve them an ad for your pharmacy. There are two main benefits of geofencing compared to traditional marketing avenues. The first is that it is usually more affordable, and second it allows us to track ROI easier because we can also put a fence around your pharmacy to see who saw your ad and then came into your store.
Take a personal approach
Every single pharmacy owner we talk with says that one of their main differentiators from competitors is their customer service. Now, more than ever, people are seeking connection. After a year of isolation that has left most people emotionally drained, taking a personal approach to marketing to your community is going to set you apart.
Handwritten letters. When was the last time you got a handwritten letter from someone who wasn’t a family member? Consider writing some letters each month to welcome new patients to the pharmacy, or thank long-standing members for their continued loyalty.
Support a local charity or company doing good for the community. A lot of people and families suffered in 2020, either from loss of wages or medical expenses. While your pharmacy may have taken a hit as well, finding a local charity to support within your community (even if you just promote them in the pharmacy and help share their message on social media) can be another great way to set your pharmacy apart and get your community engaged in doing some good.
Offer a survey to see what your community/patients need. If you are administering COVID-19 vaccinations odds are good you have utilized a digital form platform (such as Jotform) so why not use it to its fullest extent. Create a short online survey for people to fill out (leave out contact information so they can complete it anonymously) and ask your patients about what they need. Would they like the pharmacy to implement a new service such as a weight loss program or point of care testing? Are people struggling to find a product and want the pharmacy to carry it? You can even push a form out to your community via social media to get them involved in helping the pharmacy grow.
Local helping local is the name of the game and most local businesses are willing and eager to help other local businesses. What businesses are around your pharmacy that could become potential partners? Think outside the box too, the businesses you partner with don’t have to be healthcare related. If you have done flu clinics, consider reaching out to those companies first since you have an established relationship already.
Friendly competition. Make it fun and simple. Hold a fundraiser and whoever raises the most money or donations wins. The loser has to post a video of themselves doing something funny on social media. You don’t have spend a lot of time or money to make an impact. All it takes is a small group of people who want to make a difference and the rest will follow.
Sponsorships. Schools, churches, camps, sports, scouts, Lion’s, Kiwanis, food banks, homeless shelters, classrooms, families, artists – there are a near endless number of ways for you to be a sponsor in your community. Find one that speaks to you and make it happen.
The bottom line is that being an active member in your community pays dividends. People know your pharmacy, they appreciate what you do, and it sets you and your team apart. If you truly believe that your customer service is what sets you apart, then act and bring that service out from behind the counter. Local businesses are essential to every community and by cultivating and growing your relationship within your own community, you prove just how essential you are.