Time are tough for pharmacies. And unfortunately, it looks like times are only going to get tougher.
In the last few years, we’ve continued to see insurance reimbursement decline, more and more patients have been forced to go mail order, and expenses continue to steadily rise.
Profits have taken a tumble, and it doesn’t look like we’ve hit rock bottom yet.
So, it’s becoming more and more important to make sure your marketing is doing what it’s supposed to be doing – driving sales.
Often times, that’s not the case.
The days of putting a generic “Visit Us” ad in the newspaper are over. So, are the “Hey, stop by our pharmacy” radio spots.
The cost, the inability to track and calculate an ROI, not being able to change the ad within minutes, and the lack of interactivity have led many pharmacy owners to look for other marketing avenues beyond the big three – TV, newspaper, and radio.
Of course, social media immediately comes to mind.
Just check out these stats –
- 64% of online shoppers say that a video on social media helped them decide on a product to buy.
- The average person spends about 20 minutes on Facebook or one in every six minutes a person will spend online.
- 86% of women will look at social media before deciding to make a purchase.
- 56% of online Seniors aged 65+ are on Facebook and 63% are between age 50-64.
- Facebook Total Number of Monthly Active Users: 2.072 billion
Obviously, our patients are there, and more importantly, they appear to spend a lot of time there.
So, why aren’t we there? Or, why aren’t we seeing the returns we’d expect from advertising on social media?
Each platform has its own advertising system, rules, and best practices. It’s all new and seems to be constantly changing. We just don’t have the time to keep up. We have paperwork, insurance audits, and prescriptions to fill. And we’re doing all of that with less staff because of the pinch we’re feeling from the PBM’s.
Worse yet, as we’ve found out, just blindly putting ads on Facebook or Instagram usually equates to throwing money in the trash can.
We can’t do that anymore. We don’t have the money to waste.
Our advertising needs to be targeted, flexible, interactive, and instantaneously tracked.
Notice I didn’t say complex, expensive, or extremely time-consuming.
Pharmacies can advertise on social media successfully, and it can be done quickly and cheaply.
The following are 2 ads you can use to advertise your pharmacy on Facebook and drive more sales. From start to finish, they won’t take more than 30 minutes to create every month, and no more than 3 minutes to track daily. If you budget $150 per month, I guarantee you’ll see a far better reach and response than if you purchased traditional advertising.
The $5 Five Minute Per Day Facebook Advertising System for Pharmacies
1. Top of Mind, Tip of Tongue Awareness ad
The rumor running around the marketing world is that it often takes 8-10 impressions before a customer actually becomes a real customer. With the bombardment of ads we see today, it’s probably closer to 20 or more.
So, with that said, this ad’s goal is simply to remain fresh in your patients’ minds. You want them to know you’re alive, doing well, and solving the world’s problems one patient at a time.
Although most Facebook marketing experts will tell you that you’re wasting money when you boost a post, that’s exactly what we’re going to do here because it works really well with brick and mortar small businesses, especially pharmacies. Plus, it’s the easiest ad to create.
Make a post on your pharmacy’s Facebook page. Now, don’t just make a boring, generic post. Post something unique about your pharmacy that brings value to your patients. For example, you can:
- Create a short 20-30 second video explaining how convenient you make picking up a prescription at your pharmacy – no long waits, free delivery, a drive-thru, etc. Simply find something that most pharmacies do a really bad job at and that you do really well, and talk about it.
- Post a patient testimonial using an image. The key to a quality testimonial is that it doesn’t sound generic like “I love XYZ Pharmacy. They’re the greatest.” Instead, something like, “I was going to ABC Pharmacy and I’d have to wait 30 minutes to get a prescription. Worse yet, there would be times the doctor would call a prescription in for me, and I didn’t even know it. I finally had enough and switched to XYZ pharmacy and love it. My wait is never more than 10 minutes, I get to see and talk to the pharmacist every time, and if the doctor does call something in for me, the pharmacy calls me if I haven’t picked it up within 24 hours. They really go above and beyond.” Notice how specific that is. Notice how a potential patient can see herself in that exact same situation and immediately feel like you’re the solution.
- Post a new offering and offer some giveaway. Most retail pharmacies have some sort of gift section. If you get a new line of gifts in, post a picture of the new gifts and ask people to comment underneath it of someone that would like it. Draw one of the names, and send that person a free gift.
Set the budget for $5 daily. Set the audience by typing in the address of your store and then selecting the appropriate radius. Let it run for a week, 2 weeks, or even the entire month depending on how well it’s doing. Bam.. You’re everywhere now.
2. The Authority Post
As a smaller pharmacy that can’t compete on price nor convenience, we have to find something that makes us shine – our purple cow as Seth Godin would say.
We need to establish preeminence. Walgreens may have a pharmacy that’s open until 10pm on every corner in America, Wal-Mart may have unbeatable $4 generic prices, but neither has the expertise we have when it comes to helping patients with their prescription medications. The dispensing of prescriptions may be a commodity, but the knowledge of those medications is not. And when it comes to someone’s health, when she is sick and in pain, the pharmacist with the most expertise will be in the most demand.
So, how do we establish that expertise? First, we actually help our patients beyond just dispensing medications. Word of mouth is still the most profitable form of advertising. If you help someone, I guarantee she’ll tell at least 5 of her friends.
With social media, we post articles (blogs) we’ve written that provide value to our patients. Then, we take those blog posts and advertise them on Facebook.
How do you know what to write about?
The easiest way to find a topic is to write an article about something one of your patients asked you about the previous week. If one person had that question, there are probably 100 more that also has that very same question. Not only are Q&A’s valuable, but they’re also easy to write.
You can also:
- Write about topics that are in the news or on the front page of Yahoo and MSN. For example, the recent valsartan recall was an extremely popular topic. You could have easily written an article about the recall, and rode that wave of popularity.
- Write about topics that are seasonal. For example, every spring we receive a ton of questions about the best poison ivy treatment available OTC. Write an article about it.
One thing I should mention…. Do not use an article written by someone else. That completely undermines the entire point of establishing yourself as an authority.
Set the budget for $25 and allow it to run for 1 week. Set the audience by typing in the address of your store and then selecting the appropriate radius. Just run one of these per month (or two if you have the budget and time).
That’s it. Those are the only two ads your pharmacy needs to create a Facebook marketing campaign that drives sales to your store.
The ads themselves take about 20-30 minutes to create while the daily tracking takes no more than 2 minutes per day. All in all, it should average out to 5 minutes per day to run these ads and no more than $150 per month. Surely you have that kind of time and budget available to help your pharmacy grow.
One last thing… The beauty of these ads, when done correctly, is that their reach will extend far beyond what you’d expect with traditional advertising mediums like the newspaper. How? Because of the ability to interact. Patients and non-patients will comment on the ads, which by way of the network, will show the ad to their friends for free. The more interactions you have, the more free advertising you get. That’s the beauty of creating viral content.