Loyalty is like gold for small businesses, and independent pharmacies are no exception. In order to compete against nationwide chains, with their higher marketing budgets and larger revenue streams, independent pharmacies have to think outside the standard marketing box to find their customers and keep them coming through the doors.
So how do you create that customer loyalty? Through relationship marketing.
Relationship Marketing: The Gold Standard for Creating Patient Loyalty in Independent Pharmacies
For pharmacies with microbudgets for marketing, word-of-mouth tends to be the best way to get customers into their stores. Relationship marketing is how you generate that word of mouth.
What is Relationship Marketing?
Sorry, newspaper ads. You’re just not enough anymore. This is how renowned marketing platform HubSpot defines relationship marketing:
Relationship marketing is a type of marketing that focuses on cultivating deeper, more meaningful relationships with customers to ensure long-term satisfaction and brand loyalty. Relationship marketing is not focused on short-term wins or sales transactions — rather, it is focused on delighting an audience and your customers for the long-haul.
When it comes to relationship marketing, it’s not about you. It’s about your customers. The focus of your marketing efforts shouldn’t be on the services you offer or the products you carry. Instead, it should be about what your customers want and how you can improve their lives. You are the supporting character in their story, not the other way around. Keep that in mind with every customer you serve at the counter. You’re not making a sale; you’re making a connection.
How Can Relationship Marketing Apply to Pharmacies?
Outside of the big box stores, pharmacists don’t generally have time for traditional marketing. Print ads, TV commercials, email ads — they all take time and money that you don’t have. That’s why relationship marketing is perfect for independent and community pharmacies. It doesn’t cost any marketing dollars and, honestly, you’re probably doing it already.
For instance — that delivery service you offer? That’s engaging with your customers where they’re at. You aren’t making them come to you; you’re delivering your products and services straight to them at their convenience.
So How Can I Get Started?
As we said earlier, there are certain things you’re probably already doing that would be considered relationship marketing. Delivery programs,
- Offer programs that show you care about your patients’ wellbeing, covering areas like weight loss or smoking cessation. These types of clinical services foster repeat visits, and they also help develop a revenue stream focused more on value-based care than filling and billing. Often, these types of programs can be offered to your patients at very little cost to them.
- Think about incentive programs and customer rewards. These kinds of programs are proven to boost customer retention. Let’s say you offer frozen yogurt in your store. Give every customer a card with ten checkboxes, then stamp a box for each froyo they purchase. Once the card has ten stamps, they get a free yogurt. It’s a simple and surprisingly effective way to create demand for a product you’re offering, and customers who walk through your doors for something sweet are likely to pick up a couple other things while they’re there.
- Ask your patients questions. Find out what brings them to your pharmacy. Get to know them. The better you understand your patients, the more you can make recommendations for things that might help them live better lives.
In the end, the best thing you can do is treat your patients like people. When they come through the door, your focus shouldn’t be on closing a sale and ringing them up. It should be on building a relationship that will bring them back again and again.
When patients become repeat patients, everybody wins. Your pharmacy sees additional revenue, and your patients are more likely to stay adherent to their medication plans. And the way to create repeat patients is through relationship marketing.