In this post we look at: Attracting new patients and growing your pharmacy through a marketing plan. Sometimes coming up with pharmacy marketing ideas or a marketing business plan is rather difficult. We are here to help you create an advertising or marketing plan for your pharmacy. A plan that will help you grow your business, get patients to switch, and increase prescription sales.
Every owner tries to compete with the large chains or other independent to gain market share in their city. Everyone wants to increase prescription sales. Sometimes this is a relatively easy process but most of the time it’s very difficult in today’s business world. Let’s face it the patient has a lot more choices to fill their medication now than ever before. I can’t name a grocery chain that doesn’t have a pharmacy inside their building. And now patients have online options with the addition of Amazon and PillPack getting into the industry with large acquisitions. So how do you compete with all of this? To answer that question we will look at creating a marketing plan and some pharmacy marketing ideas for independent pharmacies. Our pharmacy consulting services can help you with this.
How to create a marketing plan for pharmacies
A marketing plan should be part of any pharmacy business plan. Reaching new patients/customers is key to growing any independent pharmacy. A solid marketing plan is a combination of traditional marketing (mailers, newspaper ads, promotional items, doctor leave behinds, in-store signage.. etc), online or digital marketing (website, SEO, Google Maps, blogging, Facebook, Twitter) and personal face to face interactions (prescriber visits, word of mouth, sales team and patient interactions). Each have their own cost and ROI return on investment. It’s up to pharmacy owner to try each approach and see what works best in your area. In most cases a small dose of each is required to properly market your pharmacy business and increase your prescription sales.
Do what independent are known for
Independents obviously do not have the budget of a larger pharmacy chain; so an independent pharmacy needs to rely on what they do best. Taking care of patients and giving patients a reason to come back to your pharmacy through personal interactions. Just knowing that someone is really interested in their health and well-being is enough for most patients to trust your pharmacy over a large chain. This should also be one of your primary messages when you do actually spend money on marketing for new patients. An independent pharmacy needs to emphasize that we care for you on a personal level, let us prove it. The best part about this form of marketing is that it doesn’t cost you anything but time. You just need to start a pharmacy & be consistent with all the activities.
Traditional marketing plans for pharmacies aren’t dead
Traditional marketing is still a great way to reach new patients and a way to assure current patients that you are here to stay. Sadly a lot of patients stay away from independents because they are afraid their prescription and PHI (Personal Health Information) will end up being sold to another pharmacy. By marketing to your area you tell patients you are serious about being a health provider in the community. There are various forms of traditional marketing and to form a marketing plan you should surely pick and choose some of the options below.
This is by far one of the best methods for reaching new patients. Most customers may know or seen your pharmacy from driving past it but have little knowledge about you or how you compare to their current pharmacy. Patients have no idea you do free delivery or offer medication synchronization. Direct mail is also a very good way to market to senior adults. Don’t forget about adding coupons, people love using coupons – they have a great response rate and you can track the success of your campaign with them.
When you do direct mail try to stay away from templates or boring ugly design. If you’re going to spend the money on direct mail do the following. Make sure it’s eye catching and informative so it doesn’t just get thrown away. The only downside to direct mail is that it’s usually expensive ($1000- $4000) and you can expect to pay $.17 to $.55 per mailer sent, so it adds up quickly. You may be skeptical to go for this method directly after you open a pharmacy but it is one of the best methods out there.
Newspaper and magazine ads
Does your city have a local newspaper or magazine? How about a school yearbook? These are often great ways to reach local patients and show that you invest into your community. When you do an ad try to focus on your services, actually photos of your staff and building. Mention that you are locally owned and you support local businesses. These ads can sometimes be very cheap, it all depends on the size of your ad, color and how large the audience is for that media. Remember to always your contact information including: phone, fax and website. Newspaper and magazine ads can come in all different sizes. If you really want to impress look into full page ads or cover ads. They are often the most expensive but you can be sure your ad will be seen by the community.
Billboards and bulletin boards
Spread awareness about your pharmacy with a billboard design about your pharmacy. An objective of marketing is spreading awareness about your business. How about advertising on a billboard right next to your competition? This is a great way to tell patient they have another option if they’re not happy with their current pharmacy. Prices on these can vary depending on ad duration and billboard location. When designing for these be sure your ad is eye-catching, simple and easy to read as most people will only have 2-4 seconds to look at your billboard as they pass by. Including staff is always great because people often know your staff locally.
Is your signage stale or old? It’s time to up your signage game to show patients what services you offer. Window decals, hanging in-store signage, building signage, LED signs and more all help your marketing efforts. Make sure you have a nice visible building sign that can be seen from a distance. If possible list out your services on window decals such as free delivery, compounding services, all insurances accepted etc.. Look into LED signs they provide a really great return on investment but often carry a hefty initial price tag. LED signage has been growing over the past 10 years and offer great value when promoting items and services. For example: flu shots, new OTC products, free delivery and more. Many pharmacy owners with LED signs offer advertising space on them with other businesses in their shopping center or around them.
Really want to separate yourself from the competition? Think about visiting local doctors, veterinarians, nursing homes, home health agencies and more. These facilities are used to having sales people visit them with little actual healthcare knowledge. When someone such as a pharmacist or owner with actual healthcare experience visits – it can really impress the staff members. While you are there be sure to give them some informative brochure with a map to your pharmacy. Perhaps an intake prescription form they can check off and fax directly to your pharmacy. While you are visiting prescribers be sure to verify that your pharmacy is in their e-scribe system. Most prescribers do not keep this updated and if your pharmacy is new, recently changed pharmacy systems or even your pharmacy name this may cause your pharmacy to not show up in the e-scribe system. It’s also a good reason for visiting a prescriber.
Prescription Intake forms
Looking for a way to impress prescribers in your area? How about nicely designed intake forms? These forms are designed so prescribers can easily check off which prescription or formulas (for compounds) they need. Once check marked and signed they can fax this back to your pharmacy to be filled. These forms can be very generic or very customized. Some forms actually are made individually for each prescriber. Take a list of your most prescribed medications and place them on a form and hand out to your prescribers. When printing these forms be sure to print them on tear off pads or sheets. Intake forms are a great piece to add to any pharamcy marketing plan! If you need help creating intake forms contact us, we have created over 100 custom intake forms.
When we talk about in-store marketing we are referring to marketing inside the pharmacy. For example: The design on prescription bags, in-store signage, t-shirts worn by staff to spread awareness, promotional items like pens, magnets and branded pill organizers given out for free. Ever thought about adding a “bag stuffer” to each prescription filled? This could be a small 4″x4″ insert about flu shots coming soon or even something like “refer a friend”. These are often cheap marketing techniques that should be implemented to spread your brand.
A new area of marketing – going digital
Digital marketing allows for patients to find your pharmacy on their personal devices such as phones, tablets, computers etc.. For example: let’s say someone is searching for a pharmacy that offers free delivery in their area. They are most likely going to either type it into Google, and the website with the best ranked SEO for that keyword “free delivery pharmacy” is going to show up. The other option is to type “free delivery pharmacy” into Google Maps and the pharmacy that listed free delivery as a service on their Google Maps page will show up. If your pharmacy is looking to add younger patients and their families you really need to focus on digital marketing. Especially if you offer a unique service like compounding, medication flavoring, free delivery, specialty medications, etc.. Patients do type these services into search engines to find businesses that offer these services.
Digital marketing is rapidly growing thanks to social media, Google, YouTube, Apple etc. Worldwide spend on digital marketing is predicted to be more than $375 billion by 2021! Digital marketing comes in various forms and some are better for promoting certain services than others. We will dive into some of the digital marketing techniques and explain how your pharmacy can benefit from each.
Paid online ads, Adwords or sponsored ads:
This form of advertising refers to when someone types a keyword such as “compounding pharmacy” into Google. Your ad will show up and the patient will be directed to your website or phone number. This form of advertising works really well when you have a unique service to offer like compounding or medication packaging. With these ads you pay per click usually around $1-4 per click. The cost usually depends on the competition in your area. You can set monthly budgets so you do not go over budget with ads. This type of advertising works well if stay consistent for more than a few months. Online ads are a great tool for to grow your brand and display your services. Be sure you do your research regarding the keywords patients are typing in your area. Also your website should be professional with a clear explanation of your services offered.
A website is an awesome marketing tool because it’s always promoting your business 24/7. Having a professional website with optimized SEO is essential in today’s digital world. Patients use the internet to find everything and if your website doesn’t show up, you’re missing out on business. I can’t stress this enough – your website has to be SEO optimized and professional. If you’re website looks like every other website (template design and stale content) you’re not going to stand out to patients and prescribers.. And yes prescribers often view pharmacies websites to find out more about the pharmacy and their services or to look up a phone/fax number. When designing/upgrading your website be sure to add keywords, actual store or staff photos, your services offered, online refills and reasons why patients should choose you over your competition.
Pharmacy mobile app
Yes there is an app for everything including pharmacies. Having a mobile app for your pharmacy is a great addition to your services. Whether it comes from your pharmacy system, IVR system or a developer your pharmacy should have an app. Allowing patients to request refills, set medication reminders, show images of their medication and more. Having an app is a great marketing tool and shows your patients your pharmacy can compete with larger chains.
Social media marketing (Facebook and Instagram)
Everyone is using it so why not use it a marketing tool? Social media is actually a cheap and effective way to market your business! The best feature of social media marketing is the targeting mechanics built into the marketing platform. With social media you are able to narrow down exactly who you want to advertise to. This is sometimes referred to as “Niche Marketing”. Examples include: age groups, patients who live within a certain radius around your pharmacy or even people who “like” your competitions social media page. The costs associated with this is relatively cheap compared to some of the other forms of marketing. A great time to use social media marketing is when a competitor is closing or sold and their patients are looking for a new pharmacy. Social media makes it super easy to target these patients with your ad at a reasonable price!
Check out our sister company PharmacyLive’s social media package for pharmacies! They are social media experts and can help you grow your script count through Facebook.
You know what Google Maps is but is your Google Maps business page updated and relevant? Does it have your correct hours, services, photos and reviews? Google takes more preference to those who actively manage their Google Maps page and will give them a higher rank when searching for certain keywords like “pharmacy near me” or “pharmacy”. Staying on top of your Google Maps page (now called Google My Business) doesn’t cost you anything and is something your pharmacy should be doing. It also can show you some cool stats about how many users requested directions to your pharmacy, how many views your page receives and how many searches your pharmacy showed up in.
In conclusion, talk to your patient
These are just some of the ways you can advertise your pharmacy business. Having a pharmacy marketing plan is great to help get someone through your door. However it’s up to your staff to show the patient why they should give you their prescriptions to fill. Your staff should greet them with friendly and welcoming attitudes and find out how they can help as a healthcare provider. Also tell the new patient about some of the services you offer like free delivery, medication synchronization, mobile app and more. They often are not aware you do any of these services and will help leave a lasting impression on the patient.
Still need help developing a pharmacy marketing plan or advertising your pharmacy?
Being in the independent pharmacy marketing arena for over 8+ years now we here at ConfigRX have done everything there is to do when it comes to marketing for pharmacies for our clients. Including: direct mailers, billboards, websites, logo design, SEO, newspaper/magazine ads, radio ads, TV ads, promotional items (t-shirts, pens, pill organizers, etc), leave behinds, sales team flyers and promotional items, doctor detailing and more.. you name it we’ve done it. If you are planning to start a pharmacy & need help with a marketing plan for your pharmacy contact us below and we will be glad to help you. We have in-house designers and marketing professionals that can assist you to grow your business through traditional and digital marketing.