July 20, 2021
Just like a pharmacist has to use the right formula with the right combination of ingredients to mix a compounded drug for a specific patient, so too does your business need the right mix of marketing elements to succeed.
The right combination of marketing elements is traditionally referred to as the marketing mix. This marketing method has been the foundation of business marketing for decades.
When thinking about marketing mix, you identify your pharmacy’s strengths and weaknesses in different areas, then emphasize or de-emphasize them in order to sell your products and services to patients.
The marketing mix typically includes a combination of controllable marketing elements, referred to as the four Ps:
For services, rather than tangible products, the marketing mix consists of seven Ps. They include the same Ps as the traditional marketing mix, but add process, people, and physical evidence.
Your independent pharmacy is unique because you offer both products and services. In fact, the product you sell is often tied to the services you offer. This positioning makes the elements in the marketing mix a bit trickier to define — but it can be done.
You can alter the message you send to your patients by modifying the elements in the marketing mix. For example, a high-end brand would focus more on promotion and less on price. The elements you emphasize will depend on what your individual pharmacy has to offer.
Take a look at the seven elements of the marketing mix and see how you can use the marketing mix to better position your community pharmacy to customers.
Price is the cash amount customers exchange for the products and services you offer.
For your services, be aware of what the typical price point is and compare it to what you charge. If your services are a little pricier, that’s okay. It just means you shouldn’t focus on price as you market them and instead hammer home the other ways the service will benefit your patients.
Place refers both to your pharmacy’s physical location, as well as the way you present your store to your patients.
If your pharmacy is located in the heart of your town on Main Street, place is going to play an important role in your marketing mix. In that case, you can market yourself as an integral part of your community — what would the town be without the familiar landmark of your pharmacy building?
Even if your location isn’t the most convenient, there are still things you can do to make your location more enticing.
For example, you could take steps to create a relaxing ambiance inside the pharmacy so that patients won’t mind going off the beaten path to pick up their prescriptions. Or you could expand your store hours to add a different sort of convenience.
If you offer delivery services, then your “place” isn’t just the location of your pharmacy building but your entire delivery radius. That’s something worth emphasizing in your marketing messages.
For pharmacies, products and services are intertwined.
A patient who uses the service of medication therapy management also purchases prescriptions, which are a product. Even if a patient isn’t engaging in a paid service, chances are they’re getting some sort of counseling when they pick up their prescriptions.
As you market your products and services, think beyond what you offer to the customer experience.
Use consistent branding, come up with a catchy, memorable name for your services, and make sure that the products you have for sale align with the services you offer.
If you’re the only pharmacy in town that offers a service like compounding or travel immunizations or products like diabetes care, that’s especially worth highlighting.
Promotion includes all of the tools available to you to market your business. The more important aspect is figuring out the marketing channels that work best for your business.
Maybe you do well with direct mail because you have an older population of patients who prefer an ad they can hold in their hands. Or maybe you have a tech-savvy clientele who wants to hear about your promotions on social media.
Marketing channels you can use for promotion include:
You’ll probably use more than one channel to make sure that you are reaching as many people as possible with your message. The most important thing is to meet your patients where they are so you can guarantee they see your message.
Process describes how your goods and services are delivered to your patients.
That might seem simple — they come into the pharmacy, pick up their prescriptions, and then leave. But there are a lot of micro-experiences that make up this overarching experience.
Think about the work patients have to do before they even arrive at your pharmacy. How do they order their refills? Do they have to call during pharmacy hours, or can they request them via an app or website whenever is most convenient for them?
When they do arrive at the pharmacy, the experiences they have between the door and the pharmacy counter can be a marketing tool. If a pharmacy employee greets them right away, they have a short wait time, and their checkout process is simple, patients will be a powerful promoter for your pharmacy.
As a local business, a friendly and personalized process should play a big role in your marketing mix to help you stand out from big box stores.
When patients come in for a prescription, they walk away with a bottle of pills, but for services — which are often intangible — physical evidence is still important.
For the most part, this comes from branding. You should have a website, a social media presence, a recognizable logo, or business cards that you hand out when patients come in for a service.
These tokens prove that you are a real business and that the patients who received services from you didn’t walk away from the pharmacy with nothing — even if they didn’t have a bag in hand when they left.
With a service like MTM, patients will likely deal with a few different staff members throughout the process. The front-end clerk that greets them on their way into the store, the pharmacy technician that handles their administrative details, and the pharmacist who conducts the counseling.
If even one of these staff members is unfriendly or impatient, it will ruin the customer experience for your patients and negatively color their view of your pharmacy. That’s why even if your brand is polished and your services are unique, you still need to train your people to provide top-notch, friendly customer service.
PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy side of their business. The member-owned company serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, expert contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, distribution services, 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.
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