As a busy pharmacist, you know how tough it can be to draw new customers into your community pharmacy. You worry about the future of pharmacies like yours and whether marketing is worth it. After all, it can be hard to stand out with so many new players in the industry.
The good news is more than 85 percent of adults still prefer visiting their local pharmacy for prescriptions rather than through a mail-order service. Pharmacies like yours are still doing really well, even with the rise in online pharmacies like Amazon. In fact, the number of independent pharmacies are faring better than chain pharmacies. According to pcmanet.org, between 2010 and 2019, the number of independent pharmacies increased by more than 2,600 stores (12.9%). Chains, on the other hand, lost around 80 stores (0.2%) on average.
When it comes to attracting new customers, the most effective tool is marketing. Having a creative campaign for people who need helpful information about your products and services is important. Here are some great marketing ideas to try out that are sure to invite more customers and sales into your pharmacy:
Set up a local event at your pharmacy
Show patients you truly care about them by hosting an event to promote awareness. January is National Blood Donor month, so host a blood drive at your pharmacy. According to the American Red Cross, someone needs a blood transfusion every two seconds. One donation has the chance to save up to three lives. As an added bonus and thank you to your customers who participate, hand out freebies. Goody bags with coupons for over-the-counter items and other fun, promotional items. Raffles are also fun, and you can give away local gift cards or small items from local shops.
February is American Heart month. Participate in an organized, heart-health walk hosted by the American Heart Association (AHA), and invite your customers. Help raise money to fight heart disease and stroke. Put up signs around your pharmacy inviting customers to join in. Have a sign-up sheet on your pharmacy counter, and have your staff talk about the heart-health walk to customers as they’re checking out at the register. Hand out brochures to each patient as they pick up prescriptions, too, so they remember to save the date. As an added bonus, let customers know that you will be doing the walk, too.
Encourage patients to leave a positive review on Google
Is it inappropriate to ask your patients for a positive review? Not at all. Especially since 72 percent of all customers don’t take action until they’ve read reviews. Reviews build trust and are powerful marketing tools. You want to be sure your customers are leaving positive reviews, both on Google and other social-media sites.
Use Google Ads to grow your business
Increase traffic by using Google Ads to create geotargeting ads. You can specifically target your community and only your community. By doing this, you can potentially increase your return on investment (ROI). Showing your ads to only those in your community is a great way to make sure you aren’t wasting your marketing dollars.
Sell local vendor items
Show your investment in the community by reaching out to local artists and vendors to carry their products (local artists, schools, local businesses). Carrying such items generates more foot traffic and is something you can post on social media. This can be a great way to get free marketing, especially if you have empty shelf space in your OTC area. The local artists and vendors will also let their customers know you’re offering their products.
Partner with your local DMV
You can increase foot traffic by starting a DMV partnership. Offer vision tests at your pharmacy. That way, DMV users won’t have to wait in line to have their vision tested at the DMV.
Look into online apps like Wellevate, which lets you keep in touch with your patients and also grow your pharmacy. Through the app, you can talk to your patients and make recommendations for them. That way, they don’t have to visit or call into the pharmacy to get your recommendations.
Set aside time for social media
If you have a Facebook page, be sure to update it weekly. Facebook is great for growing your business. It’s designed to target specific demographics in your area. To be successful, you must post original and relative content (not automated posts). Make your posts are engaging and use real photos of your staff and yourself inside your pharmacy. That’s what marketing your pharmacy is all about.
You can also boost your posts and/or create ads on Facebook (and Instagram). The ads are usually cost effective and can work well. There are even companies that offer social-media management services.
Knowing how to market your pharmacy is important to growing your business. Just remember that if you only try a technique once and give up, it won’t work. Marketing your pharmacy is an ongoing process. If you find it difficult to plan time for it, assign it to your pharmacy staff. Designate one or two staff members to be your backup social-media marketer. Together, you can keep the daily posts going and draw more customers to your store.
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 owned 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 secondary wholesaler 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.