Make a Personal Connection in Your Marketing

Hilton Pharmacy

Customers want to do business with people

Independent community pharmacies pride themselves on offering personalized service and saying, “We know your name.” But that personal connection isn’t complete “if we aren’t saying who we are,” noted Elizabeth Estes, chief idea officer at Ebus Innovation, a business and marketing strategy company.

If your marketing — whether it’s an advertisement or the “About Us” section of your website — is just a list of services, then you aren’t getting at the heart of who you are as an independent community pharmacy, explained Liz Tiefenthaler, president of Pharm Fresh Media. She points to a TED talk by Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy WHY you do it,” Sinek said in his talk, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” which has been viewed more than 23 million times.

Businesses that communicate WHY they do what they do are able to connect with customers at a deep, personal level that inspires loyalty. “The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have,” Sinek said. “The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”

Tell Your Story

When you list services such as compliance packaging and free delivery, “That’s just what you do,” Tiefenthaler said. While that information is important to include, it doesn’t tell the “why” part, “the reason you get out of bed,” she explained. “It’s not to count by fives and put pills in a bottle.”

In planning and developing marketing that differentiates your pharmacy, think about why you became a pharmacist, why you opened an independent pharmacy, and what makes your day at work worthwhile. When customers know that, they will have a personal connection to you that can earn their loyalty.

Tiefenthaler encourages pharmacies to include in their marketing:

  • Real photos, not just generic stock photos that could be from any pharmacy.
  • Real language, avoiding jargon that customers may not understand.
  • Real testimonials, which studies have shown are one of the most effective marketing tools.1

Faces Connect

Mary Kirkland, owner of Hilton Pharmacy in Marysville, Washington, noticed whenever she posted a real picture of her staff on her pharmacy’s Facebook page, the views, comments and shares increased.

June 11 — Kassidi is dreaming of pineapples, plumeria and poi as she gets ready for her trip to Honolulu! Everyone is so excited for her that we dressed up today to say ... Aloha! We’ll miss you, Kassidi!

June 11 — Kassidi is dreaming of pineapples, plumeria and poi as she gets ready for her trip to Honolulu! Everyone is so excited for her that we dressed up today to say … Aloha! We’ll miss you, Kassidi!

Numerous studies have shown that human photos create a feeling of trust and improve engagement. Even a website that sells artwork found that replacing images of the art with photos of the artists nearly doubled the number of site visitors who clicked on a link from the home page.2 Studies also have shown that people may ignore generic stock photos but be drawn to “real” photos.3

While a smartphone camera can be fine for a few candid shots posted on social media, Tiefenthaler encourages pharmacy owners to hire a photographer for high-quality photos they can use in a range of marketing efforts, including billboards.

Often pharmacy owners are surprised by how little it can cost to hire a photographer to come to the pharmacy for a few hours to take not just a group photo in front of the store, but also candid photos and close ups, perhaps even video. (Note: Check with an attorney about the laws in your area regarding using people’s photos in your marketing.)

Make sure the images show that the pharmacy is not only friendly but also technologically savvy. “We want to trust our health to people who are in the now and in the know,” Tiefenthaler said.

Today a business can use the latest digital tools to be authentic and personal, Estes said. A simple photo on your Facebook page congratulating a staff member on a work anniversary or birth of a child is one easy way to connect your customers with your team members.

Of course, make sure that what people experience when they walk into your pharmacy matches what you promise in your marketing. “Let’s make sure that when I go into your store for the first time, I feel the way I expect,” Tiefenthaler said. That comes back to the great personal service an independent pharmacy can provide.

Marketing Support for Independent Pharmacies

Health Mart® can help you market your store, your way, with its comprehensive Local Marketing Support program. From radio and print to social media, Health Mart Local Marketing Support gives you the tools, matching funds and support you need to create an effective marketing program for your independent pharmacy. To learn more about joining Health Mart, call 855-HLTH-MRT (855-458-4678).


1 “Why Use Testimonials on Your Website?” Emily Winsouer, Vieo Design, July 22, 2014. LINK; “5 Incredible Facts About Customer Testimonials,” Tomer Harel, Spectoos, Nov. 13, 2014. LINK
2 “Do Human Photos on a Landing Page Increase Sales and Conversions?” Paras Chopra, Wingify, May 18, 2011. LINK
3 “Photos as Web Content,” Jakob Nielsen, Nielsen Norman Group, Nov. 1, 2010. LINK


* The information provided here is for reference only and does not constitute legal advice. We make no representations with regard to the content’s comprehensiveness. You are solely responsible for investigating and complying with all applicable laws that govern the operation of your business.