Marketing your pharmacy effectively today is of paramount importance.
With the way digital health is progressing, communicating with your patients digitally and marketing yourselves more effectively is of paramount importance. Why? Well, let me explain in a few short bullet points.
Digital communication is the primary way people talk. 40 million of us in the UK are on social media and we spend on average 5 hours a day on our smartphones. If that’s where we now live, pharmacies should be living there too.
Our top value is convenient healthcare. We want to talk to a healthcare professional right away and we want the medicine delivered to our door the very next day. Digital health is allowing for this to happen and we’re seeing an alarming rise in digital competition. Pharmacies must adopt a digital health strategy and communicate with their patients digitally to protect their business and grow.
We’re getting paid less for dispensing prescription items. Automation means that robots can dispense quicker, cheaper and safer, and the government understands this. We need to market ourselves better to attract more business and drive income from other avenues.
The opportunity that digital marketing offers is ever-expanding. Social media, along with other important digital channels, is continuously evolving and new marketing tools are being released every week. This represents wonderful opportunities for pharmacies to communicate with their patients, engage them and drive more sales.
How to market your pharmacy
I’m all about giving you as much value as possible but being straight to the point at the same time. Below is a list of all the things you should be thinking about in 2019 to understand how to market your pharmacy in the most effective way possible.
The list below is exhaustive and you’ll not be able to do everything yourself. You’re a pharmacy owner or similar, you’re not a marketer. So you’ll need help implementing, or at least advising on the best way forward. I’m more than happy to speak to you at any time by email, WhatsApp or phone. That being said, if you have a marketing background, you can also tell me to sling one.
1. Train your pharmacy team
Can’t stress this enough. Your pharmacy staff, if trained well, can drive 10x the profits in your store. Multiple but ethical selling is the key, and providing incredible customer service.
As well as doing this yourself, I’d highly recommend the pharmacy training company Mediapharm. These guys have unique modules on driving sales and delivering excellent service.
2. Have awesome in-store marketing collateral
Posters, leaflets, brochures, business cards, banners, banner-rollers. You get my drift. However, it’s not about plonking this collateral in the pharmacy wherever. There’s an art to it. In my opinion, minimal and clean is the way forward. This is all about about the design of your pharmacy, which leads me onto the third point.
3. Design your pharmacy better
If the experience of a patient and customer is improved, they’ll come again and again. This is a proven concept. Your pharmacy might only need a few cosmetic changes. However, if the interior of your pharmacy doesn’t fit the number of prescription items you now, space is inadequate and the lighting is poor, then you’ll no doubt benefit from a redesign of your pharmacy.
I know a guy called Chris who runs the most popular pharmacy design company in the UK and he’ll give you some great advice here.
4. Digital TV Displays
Our attention spans, unfortunately, have diminished faster than my care for listening to the news about Brexit. We need things to move around to keep our focus or grab it in the first instance.
That’s why digital pharmacy TV displays are the way forward. They’re engaging and they mean you can have less collateral and clutter in your windows and inside your store. They’ll bring people into the store and engage them while they’re in there.
Healthpoint TV are providing excellent solutions for pharmacies. Give them a high-five for me if you get in touch.
5. Use a loyalty scheme
Spend £50 with us and get a £5 voucher free. Loyalty schemes are why I keep shopping at Tesco and spend waaaaaay too much in Costa Coffee. It’s obscene how much money I’ve given them. In fact, now I’m just angry thinking about that.
Anyway, loyalty schemes are important in how to market your pharmacy and should be digital. I’m a big fan of an application called Swipii. They’re helping 100’s of local businesses drive customers into store. If you want this setting up, get in touch with me so I can intro you. You’ll get a discount and I’ll get a free pencil or something similar.
6. Hold monthly in-store events
Could you hold an event in-store once a month? Possibly a makeover event led by one of your staff or a diabetes evening where you can showcase your new diabetic range of products but also give lots of value at the same time? Or could you even create an event just for the business owners in the area?
There is no better marketing than face-to-face marketing. You have apps such as Facebook, Eventbrite and Meetup to help you organise and market your event. Events drive trust, repeat business and growth.
It just depends whether you’re willing to spend the three hours a month preparing the event. I certainly would because I know networking is a great strategy in how to market your pharmacy and deliver results.
7. Make your instore products digital
NearSt is a wonderful tool and service that essentially digitises all your products in-store and makes them available online when people are looking for them close by. The products can be fed into your Google My Business profile too. This is superb if you have quite unique products, say mobility scooters, herbal remedies etc. I could have placed this in the inbound marketing section too.
There’s a one-time fee to set this up and we can set it up for you. #thinkoutsidethebox.
8. Digitise your direct communication with patients
Phonecalls are a pain in the eye, especially in the pharmacy. It should still be an option for people but it should now be a secondary option. That’s because we now have WhatsApp Business and other great apps like PharmZap, that make communication so much easier.
I’ve seen it countless times. People leave bad reviews on Google if they can’t get through to a business on the phone. That would anger me big time, especially if it was to do with my medication, that helps keep me calm. Please give your patients an alternative way to communicate.
But apps like these are also incredible marketing tools. You can build lists of people in these apps a market occasionally but directly to them.
Other Apps that incorporate direct marketing features include prescriptions reordering Apps such as Healthera.
9. Harnessing the right PRM System
It makes complete sense that your PMR system, as well as being the main dispensing system, also acts as a CRM tool, which is part of the wider-scope of marketing.
Does your PMR system support text-messaging or emailing to patients?
I’m not going to recommend a particular system here otherwise I might get in trouble. But if you are thinking about changing your PMR, think about CRM too.
10. Drive conversions through a Mailshot
This is a more expensive option initially but the return on investment can be significant. Reaching 10,000 people in your community directly via a leaflet or flyer drop does work, but it all depends on the creative that you’re sending out.
Does it deliver the right message? What are you selling on there? What’s your objective?
As a pharmacy business, however, we need to think B2B as well as B2C. Building a closer relationship with key stakeholders who are affiliated with your audience can be immensely powerful. Sending out a personal letter to them will be a great start.
An example: If you’re offering a travel clinic, then sending out a letter to all the GP’s and mosques in your area will be extremely valuable. Follow this up with a phone call to strengthen the relationship, and even go visit them (see next point).
More than happy to talk to you about our Mailshot service.
11. Visit key stakeholders and other businesses in the area
I remember when I used to work for Boots on Ecclesall Rd in Sheffield. I was the newly appointed Pharmacy Store Manager and naturally, I was filled with enthusiasm. One tactic that I employed was to personally visit all the GPs surgeries and different businesses in the area, simply to say “hi”, give them our brochure, and have a bit of banter.
In one year, I managed to grow item numbers by 10% and the shop floor revenue increased by 15%. Of course, I can’t measure exactly how effective this tactic was, but it definitely had an influence on the overall business and was key in understanding how to market a pharmacy better.
12. Attend local events and network
People love events. And people are your customers, especially local ones. Take a look at Eventbrite and schedule to see what kind of events you might be able to attend and network.
It could be a local business event, a school community event, or a charity event. Any event is an opportunity to network, talk to people and essentially market to them – consciously and subconsciously.
Inbound (Digital) Marketing
13. Facebook and Instagram
These two social platforms, for me, go hand-in-hand because Facebook owns Instagram and they’re heavily connected. These two are the best way to reach an audience local to you and is why we always employ them in our social media strategies for pharmacies. They work.
Things to note as of 2019 are that organically, you’ll need to produce really good content for your posts to get seen and it’s difficult to build an audience quickly. This takes time.
That’s why it’s all about Facebook and Instagram Ads. Harnessing these is a must in your social media strategy, and they are very powerful, especially if you have somewhere to direct people to, such as an online booking platform (see below).
14. Local Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
I cannot stress the importance of local SEO for a pharmacy, especially if they are delivering a clinical service. People are looking for your pharmacy services online, on Google primarily.
Instead of writing about incredibly awesome and important Google My Business is for your pharmacy, or any other business you have, please watch the video below:
Next off, you have local directories that you also need to optimise, such as Yell.com, Yelp.com and your NHS Choices profile. All very important in providing visitors vital information about your pharmacy.
And then we have the world of blogging. We’ve proven time and time again, through analytics and talking to pharmacy owners, that blogging for your local pharmacy services is extremely powerful. It works. For some pharmacy owners, we’ve driven revenue by an extra £3K a month in one year through two, highly optimised blog posts that we wrote. It cost him £125 per post. You do the maths.
Also, it’s worth looking into guest posting on other high-ranked local websites, such as local magazines.
15. Paid Advertising across Google
If you’re delivering a product or service for the first time, for example, you just started providing a travel clinic to patients through a Pharmadoctor PGD, there is nothing more potent and quick at creating an ROI than marketing through Google Ads. That’s why it’s one of the more expensive options.
Google Ads is all about driving raw return on investment through optimising ads and analysing results. Get in touch with me if you want to discuss it.
16. Have a good pharmacy website
Don’t invest in a poor website with lack of support. It’s just a waste of time and money for everyone. Instead, invest in a good, solid, mobile-optimised site which is flexible and has support. This will be your digital hub and you can do so many things with it. For example, you can:
- Allow people to register for you EPS service
- Integrate WhatsApp business on there
- Provide as much information to your visitors as possible
- Shop for items if you have eCommerce
- Allow people to order their repeat prescription
- Book your pharmacy services, right there and then (see below)
A website is mandatory because it links all the other digital channels and will allow you to direct your marketing efforts from these channels.
17. Develop an online booking system
We’ve recently begun exploring this with clients in how to market a pharmacy better and my gosh, it’s good we did. People want to book online for services. Fact. If you offer clinical services, then this is no doubt in your best interest.
With the right marketing around it, you’re able to drive 100’s of bookings every month, seamlessly, for the services you offer, which will then drive 5-star reviews for your practice automatically.
The other great thing about having such a system online is that we are able to measure our success here much more effectively.
Please get in touch with us if you want this built thoroughly and efficiently.
Alternatively, if you want to build this yourself, you can of course. If you’re in Europe, you can access the booking calendar here, and in the States/Canada/Australia/New Zealand, you can access this calendar.
18. Other social media channels
LinkedIn is great for connecting with CEO’s and marketing to corporations. WeChat is great for engaging with your local Chinese community if you’re thinking about delivering the HPV vaccine. Tik Tok is a new platform, specifically for video marketing. Next Door is a local app you can use to market to your neighbours.
The options are genuinely endless. And frightening at times.
You can’t talk about marketing without talking about analysis. Simply put, you have to analyse your marketing efforts.
Some marketing efforts are difficult to analyse. For example, you can’t really be certain how many people walk into your store because of an Instagram post they saw or a flyer that was given out unless you had an excellent feedback system in place where you asked them.
You can measure, however, what kind of engagement you’re getting online and certainly how we’ll you’re doing for online paid marketing. This is really important to understand if what you’re doing is working or not, and to point you in the right direction.
Analysing your results on a monthly basis is key.
My name’s Saam and I wrote this.
I’m more than happy to talk to you about how to market your pharmacy better and any of the items spoken about here. I can help you strategise better if necessary.
All the best.
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