As an independent community pharmacy, you already offer distinct benefits to patients that big box stores and national chains just can’t match. Promoting these advantages is key not only to maintaining relationships with current patients but also to building new ones.
Winning over new patients means convincing people that your pharmacy is a better option than their current pharmacy. You’ll need to differentiate your practice with creative marketing and a compelling presentation of your strengths.
Use these six steps to convince patients to switch to your pharmacy from a competitor.
1. Target your audience
Your efforts will fall short if you attempt to attract the whole community at once. The most successful way to attract new patients is to target a specific subset of the population.
By segmenting your market, you target the needs of a specific group, which makes your message more intriguing to potential patients than a general message intended to blanket the whole community.
You can segment your audience in the following ways:
- Location, targeting people who live within five blocks of your pharmacy
- Demographics, targeting patients by age, income, gender, or ethnicity
- Psychographics, targeting people who have certain values or interests
- Behavior, targeting based on how often patients visit and what kind of products they buy
- Payers, targeting based on how patients pay for their medications
Once you’ve decided who to target, tailor your marketing message for the group. If you’ve decided to target patients with children, your medication flavoring service could win them over. For a targeted audience of seniors, emphasize your broad selection of home medical equipment.
2. Plant the seed of doubt
Patients won’t leave their pharmacy if they are totally happy with their service, but they may not know how their current pharmacy is falling short until they’re presented with an alternative. But you can enlighten them.
One way you can make a patient aware of their current pharmacy’s flaws is through signage. Place a billboard or other sign near a competitor’s store that spotlights the advantages of your store. If your competitor is closed over lunch, emphasize that your location can fill a prescription during a patient’s lunch break.
Pair that signage with a promotion, like a referral reward for current patients, which will generate positive chatter in your community and show prospective patients what they are missing.
The goal isn’t to trash-talk your competitors but to show people what they are missing out on by not shopping at your pharmacy.
3. Get them through the door
Next, pique the interest of those patients who, with a little help from you, have recently realized their dissatisfaction with their current pharmacy.
A direct mail campaign is a great way to convince prospective patients to visit your pharmacy for the very first time.
Direct mail is particularly effective for this because it’s targeted. If you decided you primarily want to target people from a certain neighborhood, you can send direct mail to just that neighborhood with a coupon offering a 10 percent discount for first-time visitors.
Because direct mail has a long shelf life (studies show it hangs around in people’s homes for an average of 17 days), it gives people a chance to think over instead of immediately dismissing the idea of switching pharmacies. Plus, your direct mail sitting out their kitchen counter for several weeks will help build brand recognition.
You can also use sponsored social media posts to accomplish this step. Facebook actually allows you to select your competitor’s followers as a targeted audience.
4. Make the switch easy
If a patient has prescriptions at a competitor pharmacy — or even multiple competitor pharmacies — the idea of gathering all their prescription information in order to switch might seem like too much of a hassle.
Use your marketing to emphasize how easy the transition can be. Offer to call their current pharmacies to gather their prescription information. Then, communicate how your services will continue to make their lives simpler after they switch. Let them know they can reduce the number of trips they take to the pharmacy every month with medication synchronization and help them stay adherent with compliance packaging.
Even if switching might require them to invest some time upfront, by taking the long-term view, you can demonstrate how they can save time in the future.
5. Play to your strengths
In all your marketing materials, make sure you highlight your strengths more than you undermine the competition. While a little criticism might be necessary to get patients thinking about a potential switch, harping on your competitor’s faults will come across negatively.
Instead of dwelling on what others might lack, emphasize what your pharmacy can offer. This is a great time to highlight the niche services you offer, like compounding or pet medicine. If your niche services are tailored to the audience you’re targeting, that’s even better.
Emphasizing the things that make your pharmacy stand out from your competitors will help you stand out from the crowd on your own merits.
6. Close the deal
After you have finally convinced prospective patients to give your pharmacy a try, follow through on all the promises you made in drawing them there.
Did you highlight your superior customer service? Provide it.
Did you endorse your specialty services? Deliver them.
Receiving all the benefits that attracted their interest in the first place will reaffirm their decision to switch. And once the transition is official, focus on patient retention to keep them around for the long term.
A loyalty program can entice repeat purchases and reward patients who frequently stop in at the store. Hook newly-converted patients by offering a welcome reward just for stopping in at the pharmacy for the first time.
Keep track of patient loyalty by measuring your Net Promoter Score, which asks patients how likely they are to recommend your pharmacy, and why. When you collect that information, you can use insights from the survey to win over new patients in the future.
A Member-Owned Company Serving Independent Pharmacies
PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy-side of their business. Founded and run by pharmacists, PBA Health serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, wholesaler contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, and more.
An HDA member, PBA Health operates its own NABP-accredited warehouse with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products — offering the lowest prices in the secondary market.