“The Elephant In The Room”

Marketing Your Pharmacy Online

8 Things To Know

By Michelle J Sherman, RPh,FASCP,AAHIVE

President, MichRx Pharmacist Consulting Services, Inc.

Does your Pharmacy need Online Marketing? This is a rhetorical question for in this “New Economy” Online Marketing for Pharmacies is imperative. Now remember online marketing is not just your website, it includes Mobile Marketing, Video Marketing and yes of course, Social Media.


It certainly does not mean that you can just put up a Facebook Page, sit back relax and have busses pulling up in front of your Pharmacy unloading dozens of new customers for you. It is a process that if done right will most certainly get your pharmacy noticed online, and help drive new customers to your store, retain and keep current customers happy raving fans resulting in increased profits for you and your family.


Do You feel left behind?


Everywhere you turn, everything you read is “online marketing” “Social Media” You feel left behind and feel you must jump in. Where do you start…Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp, StumbleUpon, Digg…Uggh? “There’s no time, it’s to hard”, the tape in your head goes into overdrive…You can’t fit in one more thing in your day. GET HELP, the solution is out there for you to jumpstart your online marketing program.


Ok So now for “ The Elephant In The Room”- Marketing Online


1. Your Pharmacy Should Be Visible Everywhere.


Ninety-seven percent of consumers research products or services online before calling a business for services or buying a product either online or in stores. The days of looking up a business in the yellow page book are quickly becoming obsolete. Consumers have become very savvy and targeted in their needs and look up everything online first. Is your Pharmacy Showing up on the first page of Google, Bing, and other search engines? Do you have a good ranking, with multiple entries? If not how will they ever find you? Do you have a review system so customers can write a review telling the world how great your business is- this helps with the search engine rankings too! This also gives you testimonials to use on your website.


Word-of-mouth marketing can be encouraged via channels like Facebook, Yelp, and Twitter, which have more than 750 million members combined.Only 14% of consumers trust traditional advertisements. Consumers trust recommendations from friends and other online users. Connecting with your current customer base online will show them that YOU are the expert that cares about their healthcare and pharmacy needs, turning them into raving fans that write great reviews for you on sites like Yelp, and will refer your pharmacy & services to their “friends”. This will translate into more customers coming into your store and increased profits.


2. You Must Have a Unique Selling Proposition (USP).


In a nutshell…what makes you unique, what makes you stand out in a crowded marketplace online and offline? If you do not know then it’s time to create something.


With shrinking third party reimbursements you need more profits coming into your store. Firstly you can expand YOUR specialty niche. This does not mean you must now start “specializing” in oncology, HIV, Diabetes or compounding. What’s YOUR unique specialty? If it is a “specialty” disease state that’s great, but if not, what is YOUR uniqueness? Pick it and run with it!  Use that as your platform for increasing your marketing profile and use it EVERYWHERE in all of your marketing materials.


3. Being Found Online Will Help Stop the Customer Drain to Your Competitors.


Now that you have a USP, you must exploit that uniqueness. When your customers are looking for information and services online- Be There!


Make certain your website is “optimized” for search engines with the right keyword containing content, so your customers and prospects find your site online. You get found online not only through your website but also through Social media sites like Facebook and YouTube. This brings us to point #4.


4. Video is Mission Critical.


You Tube is the second largest search engine in the world just behind Google. It stands to reason that video is mission critical to your online and mobile marketing plan.


Creating video is simple.  Buy a Flip camera, look into the camera and give a one minute tip or pointer to your target audience (your main type of customers), upload the video to your YouTube channel – they will thank you for it and the search engines will reward you by giving you a better ranking.


5. Mobile Marketing Is Necessary.


One in two Americans will have a smartphone by Christmas 2011. Ninety-seven percent of cell phone users have their phone within three feet of them 24 hours a day. If you want your customers to refill their prescriptions on time- send them a text message!


Response rates for mobile campaigns range from 4 to 25 percent, with some surpassing 43 percent! Many emails remain un-opened or are overlooked. Everyone reads their texts; therefore mobile marketing, SMS, and coupon campaigns are the next big thing. Pharmacies can use mobile marketing campaigns in positive ways for your customers and their health, and your pocketbook.


6. Have a Professional Marketer give your website an analysis- the online world changes in a Nano second.


How’s your website working for you? Is it bringing in new customers?  Make sure you have a laser-focused message. Do you have an opt-in offer? Is it simple to navigate? Do you have a call to action? If you don’t have these components, your site needs a make over.


7. Online marketing should complement your offline marketing and reflect the very same marketing message.


Don’t put all your eggs in one basket! While online marketing is critical in todays New Business World, do not forget your offline marketing plan. We must now marry Online and Offline Marketing. Not every one of your customers is online. Many customers are not very tech savvy if at all, and would prefer to get an advertisement, brochure, coupon, or postcard from your pharmacy in their hands. People are very social beings and while many enjoy the social interaction online, face-to-face contact is still very important, and we must not loose sight of that.


8. Consider Done For You Marketing Services.


Done for you services can help your business market with video, initiate mobile text campaigns, create compelling articles and blogs, build subscriber lists, convert more sales, develop promotions and special offers, and get discovered by search engines online.


You are a Health care provider, providing unsurpassed care to your customers, you’re a business owner, manager, troubleshooter, and the list goes on. If you don’t have the time to create and then manage your online marketing plan find a reputable marketing company that is an expert in pharmacy marketing. It’s not too late to get in the game!


Online Marketing isn’t Going Away Anytime Soon. In fact it will just expand at an astounding rate. Keep in mind that marketing your business online and offline MUST have the same laser focused marketing message. “The Elephant In The Room” will suddenly seem much smaller and less daunting if you look at it as a friend. Embrace online marketing as part of your marketing mix. You will have fewer sleepless nights and reach your business goals like making more money, growing your business and having more free time with your family and friends.


In Health,

Michelle .J. Sherman, RPh, FASCP, AAHIVE