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In my last column, I shared how I would listen to independent pharmacy owners talk about the impact of television advertising by big box chains. And, they were right. Recent Kantar Media analysis showed that both Walgreens and CVS spend nearly $500M a year in media advertising (includes co-op dollars). Many owners, like you, felt like the local pharmacy couldn’t compete – at least in terms of the brand awareness.
Today, there are several promotional channels that are ideal for independent community pharmacies. One of these is the Internet.
The Internet Isn’t Going Away
In the world of marketing, there are always advertising vehicles that make you scratch your head and wonder if it will really last. The Internet shouldn’t be one of those. Globally, the world has reached 3.2 Billion Internet users. Closer to home, 280 of 320 Million people (87% of all Americans) have access/use the Internet.
It is not a stretch to believe that those numbers will hold when considering your community. Roughly 9 out of every 10 people in your community are using the Internet.
For those of you that believe your patients are different, you are wrong. Your seniors are using the Internet, too. In a 2014 AARP study, 50% of seniors 65+ use the Internet multiple times each week and 70% of adults ages 50-65 do the same. Each year, those numbers are only going to improve in your favor.
You need to have a website. You need to actively update your website with fresh information. It should be a primary component to your ongoing advertising strategy.
Revitalize Your Website
There are 3 initial areas you should focus on to revitalize your website: 1. Win new patients through search; 2. Load your website with referrals; and 3. Offer health information.
- Win New Patients Through Search
Some people estimate that Google has 500 different criteria in its search algorithm. That being said Google has admitted to a couple of key drivers that impact Search.
- Google gives more weight to keywords found in the beginning of a title, so include key words in your headlines. For example, a headline that reads: “Diabetes Support Services” is much better than a headline that reads: “Our pharmacy specializes in serving patients with diabetes.”
Change your website headlines to positively impact search.
- Page load speed is one of the few drivers that Google has publicly confirmed. It is that important. Check out how your website is doing at: https://google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
Make sure your website provider is focused on page load speed.
- Google, and other search engines, have indicated that having a mobile-friendly website will positively impact search results. With the growing trend of mobile, you must build a mobile-friendly website.
- Load Your Website With Referrals
A 2014 BrightLocal consumer survey, nearly 90% of consumers have read reviews to determine the quality of a local business and 40% read reviews on a regular basis. 73% of consumers TRUST online reviews on local businesses.
Use this data point to your advantage! You have hundreds of happy customers. Encourage them to share their perspective on your pharmacy. Keep an iPad or iPhone handy to capture video testimonials of customers willing to go on camera.
- Offer Health Information
72% of Americans search for health information online. More importantly in a 2012 Kantar Media Study comparing 2002 and 2011, more people are turning to pharmacists as a source of healthcare information. Over the same time period, the value of health information coming from doctors is trending down.
Find an outside resource and post health information on your website.
Beyond Your Website, Take Advantage of Referral Sites
Start with your Google Business page. (If you haven’t created your FREE Google Business Account, please do so.) Encourage those customers to leave recommendations on your Google Business page. Encourage – or reward – your patients for positively reviewing your pharmacy on other referral sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and the new Yellow Pages. It is a great way to attract new business.
Your website and your online customer referrals are both inexpensive ways to win new business and educate your community on all of the services you provide. I encourage you to take advantage of these valuable brand-building advertising opportunities.