Bold Marketing Pays Off for One Independent Pharmacy


For Playa Pharmacy, a targeted advertising campaign paid off for months

A well-executed marketing blitz can help make a dramatic difference in your pharmacy business. For example, Joe Chehade, owner of Playa Pharmacy in Playa Del Rey, CA, netted a sizeable increase in his business over nine months due in large part to a coordinated and timely marketing campaign.

“When opportunity knocks, go very bold,” Chehade advises. While you may not have the same opportunity to expand your business that he did, the steps he took could lead you to more business too.

Here’s the path that worked for Playa Pharmacy:

  • Listen to your customers. Your customers will tell you what they value most about your pharmacy, the reason they chose you over competitors, or what frustrates them about other pharmacies in the area. That type of information allows you to emphasize your pharmacy’s key benefits in advertising and promotions. Maybe it’s your staff’s friendly service or your free delivery. Know what is driving business to you and use that information to drive more business your way.Chehade learned from a customer in July 2012 that a nearby independent pharmacy planned to close and was starting to refer its customers to a big pharmacy chain store in the area. “I knew that the [independent pharmacy’s] customers would not want to go to [the big chain], but they would not know that we are here,” Chehade said. So he focused his advertising on helping them find his pharmacy, another independent option in their neighborhood.
  • Respond quickly. The day the other pharmacy closed, a billboard beside it featured an advertisement for Playa Pharmacy. “We saw a response that was immediate and sustained,” Chehade said. That billboard was up for four weeks, and three months later new customers coming to Playa still mentioned seeing it.
  • Time your messages. Chehade waited a month for customers to experience the type of service the big chain store offered. Then he placed the same billboard advertisement in their parking lot, where people would see it as they exited the store. “People called from their cars asking for directions” to Playa Pharmacy, Chehade said.
  • Sell what makes you unique. The billboards asked, “Looking for a New Home for your Prescriptions?” Beside the Playa Pharmacy logo it said, “You Will Be Treated Like Family,” emphasizing the word “Family” beside a photo of the Playa Pharmacy staff.


  • Pinpoint your audience. In addition to the well-placed billboards, Chehade sent flyers to every home and business in a three-mile radius. Because the area is densely populated, he knew that would reach plenty of people who wanted a pharmacy nearby.
  • Send a consistent message. In addition to the billboards and flyers, Chehade also purchased advertisements in the local newspaper and door hangers distributed by the printing company. All of the advertisements carried the same image and message, reinforcing it in people’s minds every time they saw it.
  • Leverage your advertising budget. Previously Chehade had relied on flyers and supporting community events to advertise his business. Faced with a limited-time opportunity, he expanded his spending. A Health Mart advertising subsidy helped pay for the billboards. And although he paid for only four weeks each time, the second billboard stayed up for more than two months, until another advertiser paid for the spot.
  • Let customers speak for you. Playa Pharmacy’s website and Facebook page feature testimonials from its customers. During the advertising push, customers who were active on local blogs asked for Chehade’s permission to write about the pharmacy there too. Allowing customers to spread your message “sometimes works better than anything else,” he said.

The lessons from Chehade’s experience include: seize an unexpected opportunity, act quickly, be willing to take risk and invest when appropriate, and above all — be bold. The rewards can be significant.

What’s the best marketing or promotion you’ve ever done? Share it in the comments section below or email to share your story.

Note: The information provided here is for reference use only and does not constitute the rendering of legal or other professional advice by McKesson. Readers should consult appropriate professionals for advice and assistance prior to making important decisions regarding their business. McKesson is not advocating any particular program or approach herein. McKesson is not responsible for, nor will it bear any liability for the content provided herein.