Plan messaging so you never miss an opportunity to boost sales
- Too many pharmacists spend too little time on marketing
- Plan your marketing calendar months ahead to take advantage of every opportunity
- Scheduling your marketing activities ensures you refresh your messaging often
What you don’t plan doesn’t happen
You put your important appointments on a calendar: a board meeting, your dental checkup and your anniversary. What about your pharmacy’s marketing plans?
When Easton Bryant opened North Century Pharmacy (NCP) outside of Columbia, Kentucky, in 2014, he knew he had to offer products and services that patients wouldn’t find elsewhere—and he knew his pharmacy needed strong marketing.
Bryant uses traditional media, placing ads in both local newspapers monthly, as well as on the radio. Plus, NCP has more than 2,500 followers on Facebook. “As an industry we don’t focus enough on marketing,” Bryant said. “You have to put yourself out there.”
To ensure he’s marketing regularly, Bryant uses a simple marketing calendar that lays out NCP’s marketing plans for the next six months. Halfway through this period, he starts looking ahead to the following six months.
Tips for an effective marketing calendar
To fill in your marketing calendar:
- Start with a monthly theme: January, for example, is a natural time to focus on wellness. You can select a product or service to highlight each month, such as supplements or compounding. “Whatever you want to grow, that’s what you need to focus on,” Bryant said. When CBD products were his theme, sales were astronomical that month.
- Fill in the dates. Make note of:
- Holidays and special observances. Download this calendar for easy reference.
- Local events, such as the first day of school, key sports seasons, or a big local festival.
- Happenings in your pharmacy. Are you starting a new round of diabetes education classes? Will special merchandise be arriving?
- Slow sales periods. That’s when you really need to pump up marketing, notes Mona Ghattas, owner of Duran Central Pharmacy in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Remember Small Business Saturday
For the past eight years, every November right after Thanksgiving, in conjunction with Small Business Saturday, Mona Ghattas has reminded Albuquerque residents to support local businesses. “I give my staff $100 in $2 bills, and they have to spend them at another locally owned business,” explained Ghattas, owner of Duran Central Pharmacy.
Other businesses have joined in. “We try to flood the area with $2 bills,” she said.
When employees spend the money, they talk about the importance of shopping local and the benefits of the money staying in the community. The businesses also stamp the bills with the “Shop Small” logo, a reminder that recirculates throughout the year. Ghattas also tries to keep $2 bills in the register to give as change throughout the year.
- Plan your promotions. In January, North Century Pharmacy will highlight its “10-Day Detox.” Last October, when everyone’s mind was on “trick or treats,” Bryant offered “Treat and Treat,” a free bottle of CBD gummies for humans when they bought CBD treats for their dog.
- Involve your staff. Invite employees to try products so they can speak to customers from personal experience. For example, Duran Central Pharmacy has a video with a pharmacist talking about products to help with seasonal allergies. “My staff are some of my best marketers,” she said. “If they have tried the products we carry, they’ll sell them all day long.”
- Make limited-time offers. The “uniform” for Duran’s employees is a T-shirt with the company logo, which the pharmacy sells. “Our T-shirts are very popular,” Ghattas said. In October, for example, there was a pink version for breast cancer awareness.
Create multiple messages
Having a plan allows you to develop multiple methods to market, via both traditional and social media. Some people will respond to articles, others to infographics. Video is a great way to draw attention online. “You can’t just put something out one time if it’s something you want people to know,” Bryant said. “You have to be persistent.”
On its website, NCP hosts a page about their NCPacks – pill packaging. It is the subject of one of NCP’s most popular YouTube videos.
Go beyond ads
As you schedule marketing, think about more than just ads.
- Form partnerships. Duran partners with a local community group and encourages customers to “round up” to donate money during the month to a particular local cause. The pharmacy then matches the amount from customers. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, for example, Ghattas chose the Pink House Warriors Foundation, which supports women with breast cancer. “We are just trying to make more money; we are contributing to our community,” Ghattas said.
- Schedule provider outreach. Bryant touches base with his most valuable providers quarterly, in person when possible. He doesn’t want them to hear from him only at Christmas.
- Reset the store. Ghattas switches products around in her pharmacy every few weeks. “People like to see new things,” she said.
Whether you post online once a week or once a day, Bryant said, “being consistent is the most important thing.” Mapping out a plan on your calendar will make that easier.
For more ideas, check out the post “Map Out Your Pharmacy Marketing Plan for the Year Ahead.”