When it comes to making your pharmacy viable, flexible, and personalized, marketing is the vital element that sets you apart from the large chains. Still, creating a stellar marketing plan doesn’t have to eat away at your pharmacy’s bottom line. Instead of throwing your money at every new technological miracle cure, there are a few key areas that your pharmacy should be looking to invest in to increase connection with customers, organize and manage your daily tasks, and get feedback and build your customer base.
Online Engagement Tools
Creating and maintaining an online presence is a necessity in a world where people would rather lose their wallet than their smartphone. In fact, according to recent research from eMarketer, e-commerce sales from tablets and phones made up more than $2 trillion dollars in 2017. As such, your small pharmacy simply can’t afford to ignore the fact that a majority of people do their shopping online before they ever come into a brick-and-mortar store.
At their best, online engagement tools offer your customers a quick way to connect with you through social media, email, or your website.
General presence on social media. Start with one of the big three—LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter—whichever you feel more comfortable with. Write a couple of short posts per week (no more than 100 words) with “humanizing” elements. This can include images of your staff, your customers, community involvement, or history about your company.
Responsive website with updated information. Many people are convinced that in order to compete they have to have a cutting-edge website with a custom design and all the latest integrations. In reality, you just need to make sure you have a site that follows the best Google practices for Search Engine Results Page (SERP) rankings.
Email gathering and sending tools. As archaic as it might seem, email still delivers one of the highest return on investments (ROIs) in the marketing game. According to a 2018 study by DMA, a small pharmacist can stand to see a $32 return for every $1 spent on email advertising. That’s why it’s vital to have a good email gathering strategy in-office and on your website, and use those emails to send out information, discount coupons, and valuable information regularly—about once per month at least.
In-Person Marketing Tools
In 2016, CNN reported that CVS showed that the pharmaceutical mogul spent over $200 million in advertising and marketing alone. The truth is, you will never be able to compete with a large chain when it comes to marketing budget, resources, and staff. But what you can beat them on every time is personalization and community involvement. Here are a few of the tools that the pros are using to create a personal impact that leads to local brand fanatics.
Event and editorial calendar. You need to have an online, shareable resource that can easily be updated with the most important deadlines for all your in-person and online projects. This way you never miss the deadline to pay for your booth for the local community event or miss an opportunity to guest lecture at the community college.
Upgraded, 21st-century business cards. Not only can a business card give the basic information about your business, it can be a tool for connection. You don’t have to spend a lot in design, but make sure that it includes your email address and your website. Consider including a QR code that can be snapped and instantly take the reader to a webpage of your choosing—maybe your email opt-in page, your ordering page, or a history of your company. According to Statista, 9.76 million QR codes were snapped in 2017 alone, making it a great lead generation tool if you use it right.
Handheld technology. When presenting your business to the community, all the swag in the world can’t compete with a great in person presentation. Bring an iPad or laptop and show your assistants how to help people navigate your website, create live orders and include discounts right at the booth table, or present a short, entertaining video that explains why you’re the right fit for the customers in your community.
Customer Service Solutions
In a recent study by Deloitte and Touche, companies viewed as people-centric are 60% more profitable than their competition. The person-to-person interactions at your pharmacy are vital to its success, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore tools that will support your customer service goals. From a well-designed CRM to an online shopping portal, the most competitive small pharmacies are taking customer service to the next level.
Integrated, user-friendly CRM. Customer Relationship Managers are software platforms that support your day-to-day business activities with your customers. A good CRM allows you to gather new clients, connect them with your email list, track their orders, automate a refill, schedule an appointment to pick up medical equipment, or provide healthy living incentives. These range from basic business solutions to customized CRMs for pharmacies.
Customer feedback strategy. In order to be truly customer-centric, you have to brave the waters of feedback and be willing to respond accordingly. Typical feedback strategies include in-person surveys at the point of sale, bonuses for employees that encourage feedback, and coupons for customers that complete surveys both online and in-store. According to a recent Pew research study, however, the most efficient surveys are currently being done on mobile devices, with 35% of respondents completing their most recent survey on a smartphone or tablet.
You Can Make a Difference
No matter how big or small your pharmacy is, these strategies for engaging with customers both in-person and online will give you the personal touch that allows you to compete in your local business community. Although you may never have the kind of budget as the large chains, you can make a cost-effective impact for good and build your business wisely.