The following appeared in the May 2016 issue of America’s Pharmacist
By Liz Tiefenthaler, President
It all started with a new website.
When Alan and Jane Lovich opened North Brunswick Pharmacy in 2000, pharmacy was a different business. Reimbursements were higher, competition was less and the internet, while growing in importance, was not a required part of a marketing plan. Alan recognized that he needed a website for a number of reasons. His pharmacy attracts many of their new patients through word of mouth and there was no place for these new patients to go to learn more about his pharmacy. Also, patients wanted to be able to refill prescriptions on line.
Fast forward seven months and not only has Alan embraced his new website, but he has also started using social media, including advertising on Facebook. “I wanted to find a new customer for my pharmacy,” Alan said. “ I am tired of filling prescriptions at less than I can collect for them. It just doesn’t make good sense from a business perspective. I wanted to attract an older demographic who would prefer to pay cash for their prescriptions.” Alan decided to target these patients by offering an Extended Supply Discount Program. Now, there are plenty of independents who offer a similar thing to their patients, but using this as a vehicle, in conjunction with social media, to attract new, cash patients is a progressive way to market. In the first month, there were over 600 visitors who clicked on his ad and went to the North Brunswick website. Alan also combined doctor detailing with his Facebook advertising and is seeing new physician referrals coming in to his pharmacy. As a new and innovative marketer for his pharmacy, Alan is proof that we can learn new tricks and should be open to trying something new.
As you look at your marketing plan for 2016, be willing to trying different avenues for reaching new patients. For example, If you have always used radio, maybe this is the time to take that money and try something new. Ryan Summers, who owns four pharmacies in Missouri, just did this very thing. He has switched his marketing budget from radio and billboards to boosting ads on Facebook. Ryan is able to measure his ROI by the number of people who click on his ads and go to his website. “On Facebook you can see clicks and comments. As pharmacists we are trained to look for results and I can see what I am paying for,” he said. Ryan uses Facebook to promote his Kid’s Free Vitamins, compounding, and most recently, his $4/$10 program.
Summers said, “I really like to use Facebook to promote not just new programs, but also our $4/10 list. When I did that, it went over really well. I wanted to let people know about a program that we have done from the very beginning. It is important to keep educating patients on current programs and remind them of offerings they may have heard about but have forgotten.”
We can learn new tricks if we are open to change. Not all of it is guaranteed to be a success, but if you aren’t willing to try new marketing tactics, then you are hurting your chances of finding new ways to grow your business. Alan and Ryan threw out preconceived ideas and are embracing new ways to market their pharmacies.
We can all learn a lesson from them.