Communication is one of the key components of a successful business; communicating internally with your staff and externally with your customers and the local community you serve. It’s critical that the message you’re communicating internally aligns with the message that makes its way to the masses.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”1
Don’t make that mistake.
There are some worthwhile business practices you can incorporate to ensure messaging is clear. Every business should have an “elevator speech.”2 In the event you are riding in the elevator with someone and they ask what you do for a living or what type of business you have, what would be your answer? Could you provide a clear answer within 30 seconds? Would it be clear and concise yet leave them wanting to know more about your business, the services you offer and the value you provide to your customers? If you feel confident in your elevator speech, is it something you review on a regular basis and share with your staff? Whether you have a well-prepared speech or not, here are some important questions to consider:
- What makes your pharmacy truly unique?
- How do you describe your pharmacy and services?
Here are some general tips and recommendations for drafting your elevator speech:
- Make it short and sweet. When drafting, use 150 words or less.
- Eliminate or reduce industry jargon and stay away from acronyms.
- Include a call to action.
- Re-read your elevator speech. Does it resonate with your pharmacy’s full potential?
- Create different versions of it for various audiences.
You might ask yourself why you need to spend additional time drafting and developing an elevator speech. Running a business is time-consuming enough, right? Well, the fact is, the speech should have been part of the foundation of your business. Your elevator speech should align with your business’s mission statement and long-term vision. It should incorporate the unique brand that sets your business apart from the competition and should, most importantly, be the pulse of the culture you’ve created for your employees.
What Does Your Brand Say?
Speaking of the word branding, let’s dig a little deeper into that and its direct correlation with your elevator speech. Intentionally or not, you’ve created a brand for your business. So, why not do so purposefully? Remember, your brand is so much more than a logo or a sign out front. The following suggestions can have a direct impact/impression on your brand in the market:
- How you and your staff describe your pharmacy when communicating with others.
- Enhanced services (or lack thereof) you provide.
- The benefits your target groups receive by engaging your pharmacy.
- The way you and your staff answer the phone, including the timeliness in which calls are returned.
- The cleanliness of your business, from curb appeal, front end and delivery vehicles to the attire your delivery drivers wear.
- The demeanor of you and your staff when interacting with customers.
- Your marketing messages and advertising.
In the absence of an official brand, your target groups have created their own brand position for you and your pharmacy. Is that something you’re comfortable with? Control your brand rather than your brand controlling you.
Build, re-build or strengthen your brand, starting today. There are always opportunities to assess where your brand sits in the market. Consider incorporating a brand-building exercise into your staff meetings on a quarterly basis. Here are some questions to discuss when establishing/re-engineering your brand:
- What do we offer that no pharmacy in our area does?
- What do we do better than pharmacies in our area?
- Who is our competition?
- What are our competition’s strengths and weaknesses?
Market to the Masses
Do an analysis of your customer demographic as well as your local community to explore effective marketing strategies based on how those demographics prefer to communicate.
Having a social media presence is almost as essential as having a website. According to the Pew Research Center, “Around seven-in-ten Americans use social media to connect with one another, engage with news content, share information and entertain themselves. When Pew Research Center began tracking social media adoption in 2005, just 5 percent of American adults used at least one social media platform. By 2011, that share had risen to half of all Americans, and today 69 percent of the public uses some type of social media.”3
Pew Research’s “Social Media Fact Sheet” also states that, “At the beginning of 2010, only 7 percent of Americans 65 years of age and older used at least one social media platform compared to the beginning of 2018 when that number has increased to 37 percent. The same comparison for the 50-64 demographic was 26 percent in 2010 with an increase to 64 percent in 2018. Those 30-49 years of age increased from 51 percent to 78 percent, and at the beginning of this year, 88 percent of those 18-29 used at least one social media platform. These percentage increases are reflective across urban, suburban and rural communities. Facebook is the most-widely used of the major social media platforms while smaller shares of Americans use sites such as Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. For many users, social media is part of their daily routine. Roughly three-quarters of Facebook users and around six-in-ten Instagram users visit these sites or apps at least once a day.”4
The best thing about social media is the advertisement opportunities. Facebook offers the ability to boost posts or to pay for sponsored ads to reach a larger audience. In general, social media provides an easy outlet to reach a large number of people, and that’s beneficial. Post often and be creative. Don’t be afraid to have fun with your posts and include your staff. The more interesting and fun your posts are, the more of a following you’ll garner.
Get Off the Beaten Path
Think of outside-the-box methods to connect with patients. As a pharmacist, do you ever break away from the pharmacy and ride with your delivery driver to provide a more personal touch and medication therapy management? Does your community have a local meal delivery organization like Meals on Wheels or Mobile Meals? It’s a safe assumption that a majority of their clients are on routine maintenance medications. Build a relationship with these organizations and look into ways to partner with them to deliver both meals and medications at the same time.
Remember, through communication, you’re building a brand, which is a true reflection of your pharmacy. Your business is better off with you in the driver’s seat. So take control, craft your elevator speech, pitch it whenever possible, move beyond your logo, socialize on social media and think outside the box.
1 Creech, Bill. The Five Pillars of TQM: How to Make Total Quality Management Work for You. Quote Page 320. New York: Truman Talley Books/Dutton, c1994.
2 Making Connections, Developing Your Brand. National Community Pharmacists Association. Aug. 13, 2016. Web. 20 Feb. 2018. www.ncpa.co/pdf/reengineering/marketing.pdf
3-4 Social Media Fact Sheet. Pew Research Center. Feb. 5, 2018. Web. 13 Feb 2018. www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/social-media/