Pharmacy U

Pharmacy businesses and the need for online marketing

Gerry Spitzner
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By Gerry Spitzner

How can pharmacy businesses offering products or patient services raise their reputation and visibility in the marketplace?

The answers aren’t the same as they used to be. In fact, research shows that when clients check out professional services providers, more than 80% use online sources of information compared to 55% using traditional references.

There’s no question that in the modern business landscape a big part of your marketing strategy is digital. Consumers are almost always online – and you want to be able to reach them and observe their behaviour where they spend the most time.

The reality is that in today’s content-driven online media world, while you may view yourself as a marketer, you’re really a publisher.  You must provide relevant content for your prospects, customers and the public who – according to Ipsos’ research – spend over 10 hours a day consuming media in a variety of channels.

If you have no online presence, you don’t exist

Do you know how your product or service or how you yourself are appearing and coming across online? Your marketing plan must include building your online presence. In today’s business world…You simply can’t build a service or product brand without a website and you cannot grow your brand without content.

Content marketing contains all marketing strategies that focus on sharing information. It is an important aspect of an effective SEO strategy. SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimization’. It’s the practice of optimizing websites to make them reach a high position in Google’s – or other search engines’ – search results. SEO focuses on rankings in the organic (non-paid) search results.

Never try to fool Google – you should use a sustainable long-term strategy. Using tricks to make your site fit Google’s algorithm only ever works in the short term. Google’s mission is to organize the world’s online information and make it universally accessible and useful. Google wants to show its users the best result for any particular keyword. If you want to rank for that keyword, your aim should be to be the best result. It is attainable over time with a consistent effort of relevant content.

One key activity is to Google yourself and your business regularly

See anything interesting? Online marketing gives you the power to recognize what’s working and what isn’t, and you need to be prepared to make adjustments on the fly. But don’t discard traditional tactics that have been working for you just because they are old.

Your online presence is something you’re going to want to monitor regularly and improve upon whenever and wherever possible.  You’ll have a tough time building a brand online without making a real effort to monitor and tweak it.

The objective should always be organic results. And one of the best ways to achieve that is to start a Google My Business profile. Signup is free and your business profile appears right at that key moment when people are searching for your business or businesses like yours on Google Search and Maps. You can even set up and build a free website.

Also, customers can review businesses and business owners can respond to reviews. Reviews are a powerful and effective way to boost your organic results.

Putting a blog at the centre of your content marketing strategy is a sound idea

Where should you start with online media? From a marketing perspective, you need content at every step of the consumer path to purchase process that educates and entertains without overtly promoting your offering. Blogs are the optimal choice for your content marketing hub because their content can be used to combine the strength of social media with old-fashioned print-publishing functionality.

It provides a branded environment that’s optimal for your content and aligned with your business goals. Even better is the flexibility that blogs provide and their ability to integrate the content into your social media and other marketing channels by creating a spider web of content that is related to a central theme or topic.

The opportunity exists for pharmacists to be the provider of expert information through content marketing. As a content creator, you start the conversation, and you own the message and the moderation. You can also bring other trusted healthcare professionals that you collaborate with into the community and create an environment that encourages patients to share their experiences with one another.

While the initial push may look and feel like marketing, the real outcome is a community – which becomes the ultimate way to build loyalty and trust with consumers.

And it just may lead to their telling others and referring your patient services.

About Gerry Spitnzer –

“I help pharmacists and healthcare practitioners to develop winning business management strategies so they can focus on patient-centred care.” Gerry Spitzner is the founder and principal consultant of pharmacySOS.ca, a Vancouver-based business management consultancy. For more information: gerryspitzner.ca