Pharmacies are unique
In the world of small business, pharmacies have a unique set of characteristics. In most cases, they offer a blend of retail, service, health advice and community good. The challenge is how to attract new customers and then retain them as loyal customers.
Attracting new customers
Step 1: Build your reputation and credibility
You increase your chance of new customers if they know when they step through the door that they’re getting advice from staff who really understand their products, especially over-the-counter medication, pain relief products, sporting solutions and beauty and haircare.
Consider the following to increase your ‘expertise’ tag;
- Run events in-store after hours for customers on health advice. Bring in guest speakers to add to your credibility. Speak at local events about health issues
- Blog in social media about health concerns and offer sound advice on sickness prevention
- Attend conferences, be involved and get known in medical circles to assist referrals
Step 2: Identify and promote to key targets
The key to gaining new customers is being clear on who your targets are and then promoting to appeal to their needs. Any marketing promotion is more productive when it takes a targeted rather than a scattergun approach.
As a healthcare provider, your audience will most likely be a narrow target, such as:
- Locals in a set radius from your location (for convenience)
- Health care providers (for referrals)
- An older demographic (for repeat purchase).
Once you’ve made a top 5 target list, identify the best ways to attract their attention (the media they watch or listen to, advertising that’s relevant) and then invest in advertising that suits (from Facebook advertising to posters in the local medical centres waiting room).
Step 3: Upgrade your merchandising
Merchandising increases the chance foot traffic passing by your door will come in. Consider your key targets and then make sure that everything from your signage to your displays, to the mix of your products, location of the prescription counter and training for your staff is positioned to attract this type of person.
Make sure you:
- Have clear signage so that your pharmacy’s name, along with its logo, is instantly recognizable.
- Position products and displays so that any specials are clearly on offer.
- Position the prescription counter so that customers can clearly see and access it.
- Have staff that are well trained in not only sales, but in the specifics of your products, especially the health care ones.
Step 4: Encourage word of mouth
Word of mouth is one of the most powerful advertising tools and as a pharmacy business, what people think of you and tell their friends and family about you is critical. Some of the key ways to get customers and partners to talk about your business include;
- Work with local doctors and other medical practitioners on how you can make their business better. Can you refer customers to them as patients? What reciprocal agreement will work?
- Offer free samples and special offers. You can also offer them during seasonal demands, such as promotions on cold and flu medication during the winter, or free makeup demonstrations with any makeup purchase when the local high school is having their prom.
- Attend medical conferences and other industry-related events so that you stay abreast of any new trends and practices. It’s also a great way to build networking contacts with other people in the health care industry, who will potentially recommend you to customers.
Step 5: Make use of social media
Social media helps you forge a personal connection with people, which means they’re more likely to buy from you. If you can get to know your customers through social media, you’re building trust as they become familiar with you, your pharmacy and your staff. You could;
- Blog on a regular basis (even once a week)
- Find other social media channels and contribute to the discussion
- Ensure your website is discoverable (relevant key words, interesting content, search engine optimized)
Retaining existing customers
It costs between four and ten times more to win a new customer than to keep a current customer.
Therefore, it’s important to implement outstanding customer service in order to convert occasional customers into loyal, long-standing customers.
Step 1: Use your existing database
One of the simplest but most effective ways to learn more about your customers is to capture relevant details such as personal and contact details and transaction history (what they bought) in a well-constructed customer database. A good database can:
- Identify the different customer groups or types you sell to
- Group customers according to their needs and value to your business.
- Tell you where ideal customers live or are located
Now set up an e-newsletter to keep in contact and to;
- Encourage referrals: one of the cheapest ways of getting new business
- Survey customers, asking what else they’d like/need and any improvements to the business
Continue to build a qualified list of email addresses through your website and social media platforms.
There are a number of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) products to use, and your Pharmacy group is most likely to have agreements with a preferred supplier.
Step 2. Encourage customer loyalty
Actively work on building loyalty by:
- Establishing a loyalty club with membership only privileges such as access to web site pages with special prices, premium resources or invitation-only loyalty club pre-sale days.
- Offering loyalty discounts or loyalty cards.
- Giving clients free product (use product you do not need, or got for free).
- Holding regular demonstrations, especially if you’ve got new products in.
- Bringing in experts to run workshops on different kinds of medications.
- Offering free advice on health care pain points such as getting flu shots, working out the best digestive care remedies, and identifying what kind of dressings to use on different sorts of wounds.
- Offering discounts to regular bulk buyers like nursing homes.
Step 3: Find out what works
Talk to your pharmacy colleagues on what does and doesn’t work.
Step 5: Collect on-going feedback
Through all of this, you should be continually talking to your customers and getting their feedback. Keep asking them what you could be doing better, or if there’s a particular product or service they’d like to buy from you, but you don’t have yet.
Compile all their feedback and review it regularly, looking for ways to improve your customer experience.
For all customers, new and existing, keep them coming back by offering consistently the best customer experience you can. Free advice is essential for a pharmacy business, as customers view you as health care experts. That’s why it’s vital that your staff have the proper training to enable them to give educated advice, so keep an eye out for any training you could send them on to keep their knowledge up to date.
Help & Resources
- Talk to us about our range of small business services and solutions.
- Read our guide on becoming a thought leader to boost sales – positioning yourself as an expert in the pharmaceutical industry is a great way to attract and retain customers.
- Happy customers are loyal customers – check out our guide on how to strengthen customer loyalty.