Content marketing for Pharmacy patient services

Posted by in Business Planning, Customer experience, Marketing, Pharmacy, Retail, Small Business, Social media

With the internet establishing itself as a viable marketing opportunity, how can pharmacists use technology to promote their practice and the patient services they offer?

Ever since the internet became our watercooler for conversation, consumers have gathered around to talk about themselves, their day to day life and their personal health events.

Now we post en masse about our lives, of which our health is just one element.  The rare occasion where we connect with someone on social media who shares our health concern often turns into an opportunity to take our conversation ‘off-line’ to chat, email or phone.  While the one-to-one sharing is great, it lacks the feeling of a true community to support us.  This is one reason social media streams alone will never be right for creating meaningful digital healthcare experiences that result in improved patient outcomes.

As social media has taken over, the context of our healthcare social conversations have changed and the feeling of community has shifted.  To illustrate the point, start by thinking about the health information shared on social media.  It’s not about health.  It’s about risk.  And the assumption – an incorrect one, in my opinion – is that people will act if they are given enough information about risks for their own health.

A very simple marketing principle is “It ain’t dog food if the dog don’t eat it.”

In other words, people actually don’t pay attention to risk, yet the healthcare industry keeps trying to apply “a medical model” to health.  People don’t care about their health.  So, why do we keep telling them to care about their health?  What people want to do is lead their lives.

And what motivates them to make healthy choices are life events.  For example, I need to lose 15 pounds.  Why?  Because I just turned 60!

Think not about risk and disease but purpose and energy aimed at improving the quality of people’s lives.  Help patients and healthcare customers find correlations between habits and their energy level and encourage adoption of healthy habits.

The rise of content marketing has started to re-ignite the community reach of digital healthcare.  We can now attract patients and health consumers to learn, share and participate around topics that speak to them as individuals, and surround them with others who share their interest.  The next step in this movement is to make that content-driven community more active and engaged, and most importantly owned by the health oriented pharmacist versus just simply participating on a third-party social network stream.

Content marketing is a springboard for owned communities where trusted advisors and influencers play a meaningful role.  While we feel comforted knowing other people share our health concerns and we learn how to cope, manage and most of all support one another in communities, we still look for those voices of authority and experience.  These trusted advisors can be healthcare professionals, survivors of disease and others that we admire for their ability to help us see through our own lens of suffering or frustration.

A true community has a balance of these three types of members:

1) Trusted advisors
2) Others we can relate to
3) Experts who share knowledge and information

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

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 them telling others and referring your patient services.

Gerry Spitzner

I help Pharmacists, Doctors and healthcare practitioners develop winning business and practice management strategies so they can focus on patient-centered care. Gerry Spitzner is the principal business consultant of pharmacySOS.ca, a Vancouver-based business management consultancy. For more information: http://pharmacysos.ca/