Marketing Your CPESN Network (and your Pharmacy) to Providers and Payors


The real benefit of an elevator speech is the behind-the-scenes pre-work that was invested to clearly and concisely articulate a brand’s story and the value that it has to a targeted listener.

How many of you have heard the term “elevator speech?” The oft-used phrase comes from the notion that someone could give you their “sales pitch” in 30 seconds — the time it takes to ride an elevator from the top floor to the lobby. [We don’t know about you, but we’ve never been in an elevator next to someone who actually cared to hear our elevator speech.]

The real benefit of an elevator speech is the behind-the-scenes pre-work that was invested to clearly and concisely articulate a brand’s story and the value that it has to a targeted listener. On a larger scale, the same is true of your network’s marketing strategy. Can you share why someone should work with your network of pharmacies? Can you do it clearly and concisely? Can you do it consistently from one network associate to another?

A successful strategy should help you do just that. There are many elements to a successful marketing strategy. We believe that 3 important ones are: Identify Your Target Audience, Create Your Brand Position, and Evaluate Your Approach. To effectively identify your target audiences, you should start by identifying target groups (or “target audiences” if you prefer agency language).

A target group is a set of people who are ideal targets for your network’s services. Don’t make the mistake of organizing them by job titles. Organize your target groups by characteristics. Every provider and practice is different. A Primary Care Physician in semi-rural Plain City, Ohio is different than one in nearby suburban Dublin, Ohio. Separate groups based on their needs and desires. You will need this information to create marketing messages that are compelling to each target. For example, certain care managers have homebound patients, so pharmacies that deliver are desired, even critical. Free local delivery might be a more important aspect to your marketing materials with this target group. You should track your target groups and their needs and desires in an organized way. We call ours a message map. It is single document that details the target groups, their needs, and the services you offer to those specific groups. Socialize your message map to key members of your network or even your external marketing communications teams.

Famous marketer Peter Drucker once said, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits and sells itself.” Don’t send general marketing with all of your brand benefits to each target group. They won’t have time to decipher it. Hit them with concise messages that resonate.

Once you’ve identified your target audiences, you then need to create your brand position. What messages will you use to reach your target groups? You should evaluate your brand strength, which is a measure of how well your messages resonate with your target groups and how unique your position is from your competitor’s position.

Concurrently, you need to build your network’s brand. Your brand is more than just a logo or brochure. It is those things, but it is also your story, your services, and the benefits you provide. Start building your brand. Establish a relationship with a target and learn what works for them. Let’s get a little more specific and look at marketing your network to a local provider or provider group. Start by having a dedicated person (not necessarily be a PharmD or health care professional) whose job it is to engage and foster relationships with providers. Determine the best contact person and their preferred method of receiving communication. Be responsive to their immediate problems first (e.g. helping their patients get prescriptions filled). Try to anticipate future concerns. Be proactive and make it easier for providers to manage complicated patients by providing timely and relevant information. Give them something to act upon, like offering recommendations prior to an upcoming appointment. Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos said, “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn a reputation by trying to do hard things well.” Remember that your brand is not just a logo. It is everything your target groups experience when connecting with your brand.

Another key to a successful marketing strategy is to keep track of what you do and evaluate your approach. We recommend a strategy-on-a-page concept. This is a simple, easy-to-draft and easy-to-implement way to establish clear deliverables for your team and gauge the effectiveness of your plans. What are you going to do over the next six months to impact each of your target groups? Capture those plans and the related activities. Try it. Test your effectiveness. Then, create a new strategy-on-a-page and do it again or try something new. As you can see, a successful marketing strategy is more about the pre-work perfected behind the scenes than just designing a cool logo.

Jay Williams is the Marketing Lead for CPESN USA. He has over 20 years of experience working with community-based pharmacies and creating successful marketing strategies. Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, MD, MPH is a Primary Care Provider with Wake County Human Services and Medical Director for Community Care of Wake and Johnston Counties.

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