These Simple Mistakes Are Ruining Your Pharmacy Advertising

These Simple Mistakes Are Ruining Your Pharmacy Advertising by Elements magazine |

You know that friend who’s always telling jokes that no one ever laughs at?

Sometimes, advertisements can be like that friend.

You invest the time and energy to get your independent community pharmacy’s name out there. But you don’t get the response you expected.

People see your ads and shrug. Or, don’t notice them at all.

When what you want is for people to see your ads and lean in a little bit closer. To perk their eyebrows. To share them with friends.

Jokes come in every stripe and color. But the ones that resonate always follow key principles. A good setup and a surprising punchline. Without those, you get crickets.

Same with advertising. Certain principles apply no matter your market or your products. If your advertising misses the key principles, it’s going to miss the mark.

You want to avoid certain mistakes on every advertisement you do. Whether you create your own advertisements for your pharmacy in-house or have a marketing agency make them for you.

Types of advertising your pharmacy may use:

  • Billboards
  • Direct mail
  • Directories
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Online paid advertising
  • Radio
  • Social media
  • Transit advertising (buses, taxis)
  • TV


Land new patients with better pharmacy advertising. Avoid these mistakes that are messing up your pharmacy advertising.

Your pharmacy advertising is about you, not your patients

Do your advertisements focus on your business rather than on consumers? Don’t make this rookie advertising mistake.

Of course, your advertisements should highlight what makes your pharmacy unique. But they need to do that and show how what you offer benefits your patients.

Because potential patients’ only concern is, ‘What’s in it for me?’

If your ad doesn’t answer that, your audience won’t look twice.

Your pharmacy advertising isn’t pushing “hot buttons”

Hot buttons go beyond immediate needs. They’re the issues that prod people’s emotions.

They arise from people’s hopes and fears.

In other words, good advertising aims at the heart, not the head.

For every advertisement, tailor your message to their emotional desires. Not the surface ones.

For example, even though patients want convenience, your pharmacy advertising shouldn’t simply sell convenience. It should sell the deeper benefit that convenience provides to your patients, like more time to spend with loved ones or more time to do what they love.

You don’t do enough research before creating pharmacy advertising

David Ogilvy, known as the father of advertising in America, said, “Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.”

And he said if you don’t know what you’re selling and you don’t know who you’re selling to, your advertising will fall short.

Here are some steps to take before ever planning an advertisement from an advertising pro.

Step 1: Research your audience

Use market research and surveys to learn about your prospective patients and their most pressing needs. Then, you’ll know how to tailor your advertising to the right target audience with the right solution.

Step 2: Research your product

Consider your pharmacy a product. Take time to think about your pharmacy’s strengths. Try to take an objective view, as if you’re advertising for someone else. What do you offer that’s special? What do you do best? How do your unique features uniquely benefit your patients?

Step 3: Research your competition

The only way to differentiate your pharmacy advertising is to know your competition. Follow your competitors on social media, take note of their advertisements, and visit their stores.

Your pharmacy advertising headlines aren’t compelling

The headline makes or breaks every advertisement.

You (or your marketing agency) may have selected a standout image and included important information, but your audience won’t see past the headline unless it captures them.

Headlines should capture the unique essence of what you offer. And, most importantly, they should include the benefit your audience will receive. Successful headlines condense those two aspects into a handful of compelling words.

And, you need to tailor every headline to its medium. A billboard headline, for example, needs fewer words than a newspaper ad headline. A Facebook ad requires a different tone than a magazine ad.

Nobody expects pharmacists to write headlines like pros. But if you can recognize these mistakes, then you can help your marketing agency create more compelling advertisements for your pharmacy.

Your pharmacy advertising doesn’t include a call-to-action

Here’s a typical scenario.

Someone reads an advertisement, smiles, laughs, or mumbles “hmm.” They’re intrigued.

Then, they move on.

Too often advertisements stop short of converting people to take action. Interest and intrigue matter. But they’re only the first step. Conversion is the goal.

Every ad should encourage the reader to take action.

For example, an online ad could tell people to follow a link to learn how they can save big on their next over-the-counter purchase at your pharmacy. Or, a newspaper ad could tell readers to enter a code on your website for a coupon.

See how these examples ask people to do something?

Here are some tips for moving people to take action:

  • Use strong verbs
  • Use emotional words
  • Include the benefit for taking the action
  • Make the call-to-action stand out from the other text
  • If digital, make the click button visually appealing


Your pharmacy advertising doesn’t exist

Too many independent community pharmacies believe “if they build it, they will come.”

That mentality has sent the best independent pharmacies bottom-up.

Advertising today bombards consumers. Whether they realize it or not. They’re constantly ushered along by advertisers on every decision.

The predominance of advertising has taught people that if they don’t see it, it must not exist.

Many potential patients are out there waiting for a local pharmacy to support and serve them. If they only knew it was there. But all they see is CVS and Walgreens.

Invest in your pharmacy advertising to find new patients and make your pharmacy thrive.

Don’t be like the friend who tells bad jokes. Land new patients by avoiding these key pharmacy advertising mistakes. 


An Independently Owned Organization Serving Independent Pharmacies

PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy side of their business. The company is an independently owned pharmacy services organization based in Kansas City, Mo., that serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, expert contract negotiations, distribution services, and more.

PBA Health, an HDA member, operates its own VAWD-certified warehouse with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products.

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Elements is written and produced by PBA Health, a buy-side solutions company.

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