Part 3: Rising Above The Noise
In Part 1 of our series "A Time To Shine," we talked about:
WHY: As in why now is the perfect time to step up your game and leverage the public goodwill that Pharmacies have recently gained.
In Part 2 we talked about:
The WHO: Carefully choosing a narrowly-defined group of customers (a micro-niche) that would be of most value to your Pharmacy, based on your Pharmacy’s unique performance metrics. Then speaking directly to this community in their language, addressing their particular pain points.
The WHAT: The results your Pharmacy can consistently deliver to this select group.
So now we'll dive into the WHERE and the HOW.
Let's Begin With A Recap of Our End-Game
This Is To:
Position your Pharmacy as a “specialist” or “expert” for a particular community’s specific needs, rather than a generalist serving all
Remove price as the main driver
Increase your Pharmacy’s perceived value
Broaden your reach
Lower the appeal of the big box store down the street
If You Are Selling to Everyone,
You Are Selling to No One
Narrow Your Focus
Why can't we just go general (often called "spray and pray" in the marketing world) and try to attract as many people as possible? Why do we need to get so specific with a narrowly-defined niche?
Aside from differentiating your Pharmacy from your competitors, you want to consider how the human brain processes the onslaught of information we take in on a daily basis.
For example: Maybe you are considering buying a new car…a silver hybrid perhaps...and all of a sudden it seems like every other car on the road is a silver hybrid. Or you hear a new word and then keep hearing it again and again. This is called "selective focus" and it is simply our brain protecting us from cognitive overload (too much "noise").
What’s In It For Me?
We all know that attention is a valuable commodity these days, and everyone seems to be trying to get their share of ours. However, the human brain can only process a tiny fraction of the data we are exposed to daily.
So it is constantly sifting through billions of bits of bytes, to find what is important to us and our needs. As in..."What's in it for me?"
Overly-generalized messaging directed to no one in particular, most often doesn't make the cut. To register at all, much less connect on a deeper level, we need to use a more targeted approach.
"Americans now spend more of their online time at
social network and blog sites than in any other activity
—and firms are following the consumer."
~Puneet Manchanda, Professor of Marketing
at the Michigan Ross School of Business.
Meet Them Where They Live
Meeting potential customers where they live and speaking to them in their own language is an easy and smart way to position your Pharmacy as an expert or specialist in a given topic.
And even though Facebook is in and out of favor with the American public these days, 1.8 billion people are currently using Facebook Groups every month, so they are worthy of consideration in your strategy.
Chances are that most of your current and prospective customers are members of one (or many) Facebook groups, which are displayed in users' feeds more than posts made by their friend networks. So visibility and engagement are high.
With little effort and zero capital outlay, you can quickly stand out to the right people to generate interest and awareness of your Pharmacy...and gain the unique opportunity for insight into what drives your target customers. How can you lose?
Strategy: Build A Community and Establish Trust
Build a community/group around your chosen micro-niche by:
Engaging with existing communities that fit the micro-niche criteria
Starting a community/group from scratch that you control
First, you'll want to research to find existing groups that would have the highest impact and will reach your chosen audience. Be selective.
Facebook groups are likely your best place to start. However, you can engage with all types of groups or associations, big and small, such as the American Diabetes Association, or a local meet-up group for breast cancer survivors.
The goal is to add your Pharmacy's voice to this community wherever they currently gather, by proactively providing your team's professional input, opinions, and expertise specific to their needs.
This enables your Pharmacy to become an essential resource to a population of people who may have never heard of you. They can get to know, like, and trust you, as well as and share your information to others...within a non-sales framework.
Note: Do not "sell" your Pharmacy within this context, other than occasional mentions of value-adds, like special promotions or events. Your Pharmacy will sell itself. Focus on being of service by commenting, asking and answering questions, contributing interesting and informative posts, and engaging with other group members.
Thanks to the massive potential for engagement,
74 percent of large companies have created
online communities, according to research from Demand Metric.
Building a community of support centered around the things that people struggle with can be very powerful in building loyalty and trust, while helping your current and future customers thrive.
In addition to joining existing communities, create your own Facebook Group(s) around your micro-niche(s) to elevate your Pharmacy as a source they can turn to for their specific needs.
Make sure to build the group(s) around what THEY care about, and how to solve THEIR problems, versus what you have to offer. And do not include your Pharmacy name in the group's title. Instead, center it around two things:
1) The characteristics of your niche
2) The solution or desired end result, versus the problem (i.e., "Thriving With Type 2 Diabetes" versus "Diabetes Sufferers")
(Click here for an article on how to start a FB group)
Provide Valuable Resources
You and your team have likely spent years collecting knowledge and experience in your chosen field, which can provide tremendous value to a community like this. Don't let it collect dust in your head.
On a regular basis, offer your “community” information, shortcuts, tips, and tricks on different topics related to THEM. Mix it up with original and curated articles, how-to guides, cheat sheets, infographics, “listicles” (such as “8 Unexpected Ways to Say Goodbye to Leg Cramps”), Q&As, sharable memes, and any other resources that could be of value to them. (Hint: use highly-targeted hashtags to gain a 5x wider audience...click here for an article on how).
You don't have to stick to just groups. This content can be distributed in many forms, such as workshops, webinars, LinkedIn articles, blog posts, in-store handouts, Q&As, email or "snail mail" newsletters, Pharmacy counter, or drive-up window signs, social media posts…and the list goes on.
Your Pharmacy may already be doing this on a broader scale, but this content should be focused specifically on this niche’s needs, wants, desires and pain points.
Become The Authority
Becoming "the local authority” your community can turn to for their specific needs doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming. Ideas for original content, validating studies and credible healthcare publications can easily be found online (always triple-verify the source and credibility and whenever validity is in any doubt, don't use it).
Source the best information you can, and add your expertise, opinions, examples, illustrations, etc., (try Canva.com for free images and pre-made drag and drop design templates) and you’ve now got a piece of valuable content that serves your "tribe's" greatest needs. These can then be used and repurposed in many forms of the same article.
Piggyback On Other’s Expertise
Maybe writing your own article is a little too much work in the chaos of running a Pharmacy, or maybe you don’t feel that your writing skills merit publication. Well, there is an easier way. You don't need to be the author - just the curator.
Simply find quality publications or posts from other experts (always provide attribution and a link back to the original source). Again - triple-verify the source and credibility. Then "share" them along with a few intro sentences about what you think of the article, study, white paper, or whatever it is that you are sharing. Maybe you can add (anonymous) case studies, or a few related examples that your Pharmacy patients have experienced.
Don’t assume that with the Internet, patients/customers have all of the information they need at their fingertips. There is so much information overload out there, that people get overwhelmed and don't know which sources to trust (and don't forget Pharmacies are among the most trusted part of healthcare). Finding and vetting it, is as big a help to them, as it would be if you'd written it yourself. So don't think you need to recreate the wheel with original articles.
Build A Feedback Loop
In this type of online community, much of the real work is done within and by the group itself as they collaborate, interact and share what matters most to them. This constant feedback loop will help guide you to exactly what types of input your Pharmacy can provide, that will have the most significant impact, as well as to help you align your products and services to meet the real-world needs of your customers.
Whenever posting, add a call to action (CTA) by asking them to share their own experiences or opinions around the post, or to share it with others who need the information. This will help get the conversation started and increase your reach.
Create "Evergreen" Content
Whatever content you create around your micro-niche can last forever online. So when new people enter your “tribe,” they can consume all of the information you’ve gathered in past articles, blog posts, etc., at their convenience. This one thing, can greatly accelerate the speed to which you gain credibility to potential new customers. So try to keep this in mind when creating it, keeping the information as “evergreen” as possible.
For example: try to avoid saying things like “For Halloween this week, we will be doing X…” in the actual article. Instead, you can add time-sensitive information to your comments about it, keeping the primary source something that isn’t time or date-dependent.
Make sure to have a place (website/blog/social media channels) that they can be directed to, that contains an archive of your past posts in chronological order, and/or organized by subject. Once you’ve built up a decent knowledge base, you can further promote it to new audiences.