Pharmacy managers often find themselves caught in a frustrating dilemma: balancing the need to serve existing customers while also seeking new ones to expand their business. Your competitors continue to multiply, and you begin to see one or more customers get picked up by a competitor you never heard of.
At the beginning of summer, our minds usually drift towards thoughts of vacation, gardening, long weekends, and sand between our toes. However, this year we might want to spend some of our sun-filled days thinking about the future direction of our business and how we’ll get there.
Before jumping into the details of your marketing and sales plan, think about this: do you want to stay in the same sectors? If most of your business is with SNFs and ALFs, should you just focus on adding more homes in your customer portfolio? Even though the nursing home industry is not on a growth path, you know the industry, you have contacts, and your competitors may have decided to expand to other sectors, giving you a more open field to hunt.
The other option is to expand into markets in which you haven’t previously invested. We’ve discussed some of these in previous posts (home care and employee benefits). You could do a bit of both; continue prospecting for new LTC customers while looking for opportunities outside of your normal emphasis. Regardless of the path you choose, it’s crucial to recognize that if you haven’t dedicated much effort to marketing your pharmacy recently, it’s time to shift your mindset and try something new.
Get Help from Artificial Intelligence
For example, I have some ideas on how to broaden the LTC pharmacy scope of business but wanted to see if there were other options I had neglected, so I wrote the following prompt for ChatGPT (see previous post on AI).
You are the owner of a long-term care pharmacy. Your primary customers are owners of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. You are interested in expanding your customer base beyond these facilities into areas where there is a demonstrated need for expert knowledge of pharmaceuticals and the capability of delivering medications to recipients. Please give me some ideas about what areas I should consider.
ChatGPT’s response was quite good. It mentioned home health, hospice, rehab centers, specialty clinics, and palliative care as good options. With a follow-up prompt, I asked how I might begin outreach to these new prospects. Again, I received good ideas. They included attending industry conferences, leveraging LinkedIn to make new contacts, and inviting prospects to educational events focused on value proposition.
If you haven’t already, try working this problem through with the assistance of your favorite AI platform. Keep refining your prompts to drill down to more specific responses. You should never trust AI completely, but it’s worth acknowledging that it can provide valuable insights to validate and explore further.
Investigate your options by doing online research, talk to people in the industries you would like to approach, and create a marketing plan and budget to push you into new territory. It will be uncomfortable, and you will encounter roadblocks along the way.
The best marketers have a resilient mindset. They expect frustration, dead ends, and delays in achieving their objectives. What makes them successful is their mindset. They just stay at it. They evaluate every interaction, reflect on what they may have overlooked or assumed, and explore how they can self-correct for future engagements. They understand that this journey is a continuous process. Some days are celebratory, others are full of trials. They keep working towards their goals, hoping their competitors relent.
Use the next couple of months to plot your next growth phase. Start doing research. Find out everything you can. When you reach information overload, begin to sort through what you have discovered. There’s a good chance your next step will be obvious.
X Factors for Growing Your Pharmacy
- Evaluate the growth trajectory of your current customers. Are they expanding, stagnant, or declining?
- Look around the healthcare industry to discover where the next opportunity is hiding.
- Use tools like AI and LinkedIn to increase your knowledge and make new contacts.
- Be persistent!