Having a Marketing Representative on Staff Can Change How a Pharmacy Operates
With a trained representative focused on building relationships with prescribers in the community, pharmacies have the opportunity to significantly expand how they do business.
Adding a team member who is trained and focused on sales and marketing has the potential to pay dividends, explained Nicolette Mathey, PharmD, owner of Palm Harbor Pharmacy, during a presentation at the National Community Pharmacists Association 2022 Annual Convention. Specifically, by detailing and following up with even 5 physicians in the community, pharmacies can create opportunities to stock items that the physicians’ commonly recommend to their patients or provide surgical kits for the physicians’ clinics.
“There's always more and more and more to do with your physical marketing and your digital marketing,” Mathey said. “But do all the prescribers in your area know all of the products and services your pharmacy offers? Because you do more than you think you do.”
Mathey noted that often when she discusses the field of marketing, people frequently jump to thinking of websites or search engine optimization.
“But really what I love the most is physical marketing, so boots on the ground doctor detailing relationships. But that can be intimidating, so we're going to break it down,” Mathey said.
A starting point when approaching doctor detailing is pivoting away from pitching what the pharmacy could do for that physician, and focus instead on asking the physician questions about what they do in their practice, Mathey explained.
“When we go, we ask a lot of questions. We don't just tell them all about us and what we do,” Mathey said. “We ask questions to the prescriber, ‘What are you currently writing for,’ ‘Are you currently writing for compounds,’ ‘Are you currently using any other pharmacies?’ A lot of them send compounds out of state, and that's an easy target in your area. You can go make that connection and that relationship, and tell them, ‘Oh, I can do that.’”
Mathey explained that by learning more about the specifics of the prescriber’s work and prescribing patterns, the pharmacy can better stock products specific to their patients’ needs.
“We work with a lot of podiatrists in my area, that was just our opportunity,” Mathey said. “So we were able to develop really robust programs around podiatry in that niche.”
Mathey noted that through her work with podiatrists in her area, she learned there were many different types of podiatrist specialties, ranging from podiatric surgeons to other types of podiatric physicians. However, a similar issue arose in her discussions with all of them.
“There are all different kinds of podiatrists, and many of them will send patients online to get compression socks or online to get wound care and things. I said, ‘No, no, no, don't send your patients online or to Amazon or something like that. Send them to us. We know everything that you like, and your protocol for your surgeries. We’ll make you the surgical kit, so send them to us, we'll measure them, we'll keep all the things you want in stock,” Mathey said.
However, Mathey noted that it’s important to strike a balance with the prescriber’s clinic regarding what they keep in stock to sell to patients and what they do not.
“So, I'm not going to sell patients shoes if the clinic sells shoes. Anything they offer, I won't offer it. That's why it's so important to partner with local prescribers in your area, so that anything that they can't provide their patients that they're sending out on the retail side, the product side, supplement side, prescription side, they will be sending to us,” Mathew said.
Yet, the focus areas will be different for every pharmacy, as not all pharmacies will have a significant number of podiatrists practicing nearby, Mathey explained. Regardless, the pharmacy’s marketing strategy should align with their patients, the prescribers, and the payers if they want to gain traction.
“So as you can imagine, all the pharmacies that we work with around the country are different,” Mathey said. “All the marketing strategies are totally different for all these pharmacies. I really feel no two are alike.”
Mathey N. Marketing Representative: The Staff Role You Never Knew You Always Needed. Kansas City, MO: National Community Pharmacists Association 2022 Annual Convention; October 2, 2022.