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Marketing your Travel Clinic is absolutely, 1000% required for its success. But, putting a poster up about it in your pharmacy and phoning up the GP to let them know you offer it doesn’t cut it. We live in a time where more and more travel clinics are coming into existence and competition is on the rise. Furthermore, you have a plethora of marketing channels that, when used effectively, will drive up to 1000% more consultations in some circumstances. So, it makes sense to have a solid marketing plan in place when offering a Travel Clinic.
In November 2018, our Director, Saam, presented at The Travel Health Conference. And yes, he aptly presented “How to Market your Travel Health Clinic”. In the presentation, he gives you a breakdown of what channels you should be thinking about, both online and offline, when marketing your Travel Clinic for optimum awareness and conversions.
In this learning module, we’ve transcripted the whole presentation for a better, more effective learning experience. If you have any questions or would like help in marketing your Travel Clinic, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Pharmacy Mentor team are partnered with PharmaDoctor and ECG Training to provide pharmacies with a One-Stop-Shop solution to the effective running of a Travel Clinic. Make sure you check them out!
Sometimes, especially as business owners, we forget the most important reason we do what we do in the pharmacy. So, to begin this presentation, I’d like to remind everybody in this room, including myself, what that reason is.
It’s to help people. We’ve been granted a position to help improve people’s lives every single day.
That is an incredibly prestigious position to have and something we should all be grateful for. I’m sure you can agree that there’s no better feeling than when a patient has thanked you because you’ve made their life better.
And it’s this principle of helping people that should always lie at the forefront of your Travel Clinic. We get so entangled in our daily operations in the pharmacy, it’s something that we often forget. Providing your best patient care must be at the top of your agenda.
Supporting this Golden Principle are the reasons why running a Travel Clinic is a good idea:
- We’re improving access to yet another healthcare service. It makes sense – we’re the most accessible healthcare team there is.
- Over 70 million trips abroad are made every single year in the UK but only 50% of those seek advice before travelling. This represents a huge opportunity for Community Pharmacy to step in and make a real difference.
- And if you do step in, then you’re looking at potentially making a lot of money from it. I’m working with some owners who are making close to 5 figures a month purely from Travel Health and there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
- And of course, you’ll be reducing pressures on GP’s and the NHS who are notoriously known for being at full capacity and overburdened.
The vast majority of pharmacies in the UK who employ a travel clinic are not experiencing the maximum benefit of it, nor are the people they deliver the service to.
Pharmacies could be making a much greater impact in their Communities and offering their patients a better overall experience. While delivering an outstanding service to your patient is critical to its success, an equally important factor is how you market it. This is an area that most business owners struggle with but is where much of the opportunity exists.
Improving your marketing around your travel clinic will increase how many people use your service. That’s an absolute fact and that’s why marketing exists.
Q. So how do we improve and maximise our marketing?
In fact, let me rephrase that.
Q. How do we improve and maximise our marketing with the budget and resource we have?
Marketing can be very complex and the more you can budget for it, the more you can get out of it. But we’re not made of money of course – we have our limits. And it’s complexity means that I won’t be able to fit everything into the next 20 minutes I’ve got with you anyway.
Rather, I’m gonna summarise the most important elements of marketing you should consider for this particular service, with more of a focus on the digital side of things.
Digital marketing seems to be the biggest challenge for pharmacy owners but it happens to be an area of expertise for me.
Let me give you a 30-second synopsis of me and what I do. I’m a Community Pharmacist of 12 years and counting and many moons ago, I set up one of the first ever travel clinics at Boots which was a great success.
However, back in 2014, I took a break from practice and dived head first into the online and technology sector. I taught myself how to build websites, learned how to create high-quality digital media and have been perfecting digital marketing ever since.
So, at the beginning of 2017, I launched a digital marketing agency that focuses primarily on the Community Pharmacy sector. Through trial and error, keeping up to date with the latest social and digital trends, and evaluating data and feedback, we know which channels make a real difference to your pharmacy business.
So, getting back to answering this important question…How do we improve and maximise your marketing with a reasonable budget?
Well, there are three types of marketing you need to consider. These are:
- In-store marketing
- Direct marketing
- And Inbound marketing, of which Digital marketing is a big part of.
Let’s go through each one individually…
In-store marketing is something you’ll all be familiar with and is pretty standard duty. I’m not going to go into too much detail about this type of marketing because you guys will know quite a lot about that already.
There are a couple of items I would like to mention however that I feel are very important. In-store marketing involves your staff actively talking about the service in your store. I know, as a pharmacist myself and having locumed across the country, that staff fail to talk about these types of services, even when the subject pops up in conversation! It’s a pandemic across many pharmacy teams.
But it exists because the staff have not been briefed well enough to talk about them confidently to a patient. They don’t know what the purpose of the service is and what it all entails.
So, my advice on that front is to turn every single member of staff into confident marketing machines. Give them the reasons behind WHY you’re going to implement a travel clinic and a brief about what it involves. If you’ve got a training module to show them, then that’s even better.
And very importantly, make sure everyone knows how to book someone in for an appointment. You’re gonna lose sales otherwise. Developing your staff is developing your business.
The other item I’d like to mention is about digitising your in-store marketing. More and more pharmacies are adopting for digital displays and there’s a good reason for it.
Since the launch of the smartphone, the human brain has become complacent. Our attention span today, quite sadly, is at an all-time low at just 8 seconds. That means, if our mind isn’t constantly stimulated, we get bored quickly and forget easily.
That’s why video is the most engaging and converting form of content marketing there is today.
If you don’t yet have digital displays in your pharmacy then I strongly suggest you think about investing in them. Not only will they help you convert more customers, but they will also save you plenty of time in constantly changing marketing material in the long run.
The next type of marketing is Direct Marketing.
This is where you contact businesses, organisations, and people directly to let them know you’re offering a travel clinic. It’s targeted, personal, cost-effective, and does deliver an ROI.
Yet, hardly any pharmacies employ it.
How many of you have mailed out letters to your Community?
You’ve all seen the letters sent out by Pharmacy2U. That’s direct marketing on a HUGE scale and although their copy is dubious to say the least, they’ve not broken the law and it’s been hugely successful for them.
What’s stopping you from doing the same on a local level? There are plenty of services that can help you with this. However, do bear in mind that this is one of the more expensive options.
As well as contacting the end user directly, you should definitely consider sending out letters to every one of the following in your city or catchment area:
- GP Surgeries – That’s a given.
- Travel agents – Again, fairly obvious why.
- Police Stations – Because police officers need to have a Hep B vaccine for their work
- Mosques – Because Muslims will need the meningitis vaccine before they travel to hajj
- Colleges and Universities – Because many students take a GAP year abroad
- And any other type of organisation you think will be affiliated with your target customer
Again, we’re always having to consider budget here. But mailing out to more people and organisations will lead to more people knowing about and using your clinic.
Email marketing is another form of direct marketing, has been around for decades, and can be effective. However, since your a local pharmacy, it’s unlikely that you’ll have any email addresses to begin with.
They can be sourced online, but bear in mind, if you buy a bunch of cold emails to market to, you’re conversion rate will be much poorer than a list you’ve built up yourself over time. I’d avoid this type of marketing unless you already have a list of people to market to.
So, an alternative this could be the use of LinkedIn. This channel allows you to reach out directly to the people and key stakeholders that matter to you. If done correctly, this can be a very powerful form of marketing.
If you’re already connected with a key stakeholder, i.e. they are your 1st-degree connection, simply send them a message to let them know you’re now offering a Travel Clinic.
If they’re, say a Director of a company, why not send over a digital voucher giving all 200 employees a 10% discount off their travel health purchases.
I know this type of marketing is effective because I do it for my own business with success and some clients of mine have had success with the flu season at present.
And if you’re not connected on a 1st-degree level to any important key stakeholders, you can always pay to message them directly. Now I’m not entirely sure how effective this kind of paid outreach is in terms of conversions but it’s just another option you could try. Budget with £50 and see what kind of results you get. Marketing is all about testing to see what works and what doesn’t work.
There’s another form of direct marketing which is relatively new to the scene but is making a significant impact in the local business world. That is WhatsApp marketing.
I only know a very small number of pharmacies employing WhatsApp Business in their strategy but the feedback has been excellent from it. It makes sense. It’s the easiest and most popular form of direct messaging we have today. On top of that, all messages are securely encrypted for confidentiality.
I highly recommend that every pharmacy owner UK employs WhatsApp Business in their marketing strategy.
It’s gonna improve conversions for your Travel Clinic and every other service you offer in store, and your customer loyalty will go through the roof. Can you imagine how happy customers will be WhatsApp’ing their local pharmacist?
I’m pretty sure this app is gonna reduce the number of phone calls you’ll get at the pharmacy too. It’s a real winner in my eyes.
There are, of course, other forms of direct marketing you could employ, such as:
- Leaflet dropping, again proven to be effective
- Using Swipii, the digital loyalty scheme that seems to be going viral in the local business world
- And messaging people directly through other social media channels, such as Instagram and Facebook.
The more methods of direct marketing you can cover, the more likely you are gonna convert people.
And finally, we arrive at the realm of inbound marketing.
This type of marketing is a technique of drawing in the customer using content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimisation, and branding. It’s kind of like your in-store marketing, but online.
Let me explain what and why you should employ the following marketing tactics to promote your travel clinic.
If you’re running a travel clinic, it’s absolutely mandatory today that you give the patient the option to book an appointment online. Or at least, for them to be able to begin their consultation online.
We’re in the year 2018, not 1998. As a consumer myself, it horrifies me when I see that I have to ring up and speak to another human being, just to book me in. For the sake of the consumer and yourselves, please, automate this process. Make it as seamless and simple as possible for the patient.
Having a booking calendar and online consultation process is one thing. But they render useless if no one can find it. So, How do we get people to find this online?
Well, there are loads of ways we can do this. Too many to go through with the length of this article, but, I’m gonna explain a few of the most important ones you should consider.
Creating good quality content in the form of a blog, which is usually incorporated into your website, will help people find your Travel Clinic much more effectively. That’s because it caters for how we are searching for this service in the first place.
When someone is looking for a service they’d like to use today, they won’t type the name of a business into Google, they type the exact phrase of the service they want to find. These are called “keywords”.
In terms of a Travel Clinic, people are logging onto Google Search and typing in “travel clinic + location”. That’s why, if you have a piece of content online, such as a blog post, optimised for these specific keywords, you can get to page one of Google. And if your blog post has a link directing patients to your online consultation form, then it’s a winner.
I often get asked if it’s worth conducting Google Ads. For your Travel Clinic, the simple answer is, yes it is.
You only need to type “travel clinic + your location” into Google to understand this. For example, if you type in “Travel Clinic Luton”, you’ll see a bunch of Ads right at the top of the first page. This shows you how competitive those keywords are.
Google Ads are worth trying, like all marketing channels, to see if you get a good ROI. However, this type of marketing is complex, usually requires more of a budget and will most definitely require outsourcing. If this is something you’d like to do, then come and speak to us.
As examples, check out these landing pages promoting Travel Test Packages and COVID19 PCR Testing. They are making £1000’s a month through advertising on Google Ads.
Keeping on the subject of Google, your Google My Business profile is yet another extremely valuable tool when marketing your Travel Clinic.
When you type the exact name of your business into Google, you’ll see a profile appear, like the one you can see in the corner of the map there. It holds vital information regarding your pharmacy. That’s your Google My Business profile.
By verifying your business on Google, you’re able to add plenty of information to your profile about your Travel clinic for people to see. You can even add photos and videos, just like we’ve been doing for this pharmacy. And you can also categorise your business as a travel clinic too, secondary to a pharmacy.
Enabling this will mean that when someone is searching for a Travel clinic in your area, your pharmacy will be seen on the map. Tremendously powerful and again, should be mandatory in terms of marketing.
And of course, one of my favorite types of marketing that can’t be excluded from your marketing strategy is Facebook Ads.
Paid advertising on Facebook is by far the quickest and most cost-efficient way to reach 1000’s of people in your locality. Furthermore, you’re able to target your preferred customer.
As an example of how effective Facebook Ads can be, we created an Ad for a pharmacy down in Birmingham, to promote the launch of their travel clinic. We spent £10 and targeted only the people within a 10-mile radius of the pharmacy, between the ages 18 and 65, and who are interested in travel topics. Two days after publishing, the pharmacy sold £400-worth of Travel Health products to a single customer. And we know that this sale was attributed to the Ad because we asked the guy how he knew about the service.
As another example, for a pharmacy down in Colchester, we pushed a £50 Ad to promote the launch of their travel clinic, targeting similar demographics. The Ad reached 19,000 people in the area, and in that first month, the pharmacy completed 11 consultations and totaled £1,200 net profit. Again, we know the Ad influenced people because we asked them how they knew about the service.
Facebook is a must for Community Pharmacy. I’d budget around £25 to £100 a month to market your travel clinic at a single location, at least for the first few months of its launch, and then in the summertime again.
Once more, please talk to us about the best strategy to deploy when it comes to Facebook Ads.
There are many other Social Media channels you can market through, but one other worth mentioning quickly is Instagram.
With around 18 million monthly users and a largely younger demographic between the ages of 18 – 34, Instagram can come in handy.
What I like about it in terms of marketing your travel clinic is that you can create good and engaging campaigns just by using high-quality travel images. It’s definitely worth employing and building up a local audience with time.
So to summarise what we’ve been through right now:
- When it comes to in-store marketing, as well as making your pharmacy look pretty with posters and leaflets, think about how you’re going to prepare your team to become marketing machines and about digital displays.
- For direct marketing, we talked about how mail marketing can be very potent. We dabbled in LinkedIn marketing and its direct messaging feature, and I highly recommended the incorporation of WhatsApp Business or PharmZap.
- And for inbound marketing, we briefly discussed the importance of an online booking calendar, how blogging can improve the visibility of your Travel Clinic on search, how it could be worthwhile conducting Google Ads, how optimising your Google My Business profile will place your clinic on the map, and the power of Facebook Ads.
If you manage to conquer all of those marketing channels, you’ll no doubt be the king of Travel Clinics in your region.
Now, you’ll probably have read this and will be thinking…“Well, how on earth am I going to implement all of that? I don’t have the time nor the skill to execute.”
You’re right. Time is a huge limiting factor. But marketing is a journey, not a sprint. It can be implemented gradually and adjusted accordingly so you’re only focussing on the things that work.
If you can do some of it, or a competent member of staff could take on some tasks, then that’s great. And of course, you have external help too. You know more than me that it’s all about utilising every possible resource you have available to you.
And finally, I must mention the word “strategy”. This is key for any business activity and it absolutely applies to marketing as well. Following a well-laid out plan always produces better results than when executed blindly.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us to help you develop a solid marketing strategy for your business, or if you need assistance in marketing your travel clinic.
If you’d like to talk to us about getting digital, or anything related, please feel free to contact us and we’d be glad to assist you. Also, don’t forget to check out The Ultimate Guide to Driving Your Pharmacy Business in the Digital Age, a free 70-page manual, that is really helping pharmacists understand the importance of new and emerging technologies.