What is the most common mistake being made by nearly all pharmacies, asks Sarah Rendell from Peak Strategies

As an owner of a business one of the most important skills you need is the ability to identify what you’re good at and what you’re not.

Being honest with yourself and being smart about how you use your time and money is a constant decision making process. One of the most important lessons I have had over the last few years is understanding what I am good at and what I am not. The things I wasn’t good at, I let go and got other people to do them.

I found that business progresses in leaps and bounds when you get the right people in place doing the things they are good at. I am professional like you. I have spent many, many years studying and learning my profession. However, when I got into business I discovered that I knew absolutely nothing about how to run a successful business.

The missing ingredient

Marketing was one of those things in hindsight I wish I had done something about earlier. I was smart enough to know I could not do it effectively. I had to recruit the right talent. It took some convincing and I was quite nervous/scared about whether it would work or not. But it has been one of the best decisions I have made in my business life.

If I look at most of pharmacies out there and the common mistake they are making is not having an effective marketing system.

Some don’t have a marketing system at all. Just relying purely on location and convenience.  I think pharmacy owners need to acknowledge not all of us have the right skills in this area, in fact most at flying blind here. Because of the lack of familiarity with marketing systems, many choose to either fumble their way through or ignore it all together.

The reality is though, in today’s highly competitive community pharmacy landscape it is vital you are innovative, question the current model, change and do something different. You can no longer ignore this if you want a successful pharmacy. You need a properly structured marketing strategy.

The right strategy

Let us be clear on a few things. Marketing is not just about catalogue drops in local letter boxes and it is not just about having a Facebook page. It incorporates websites, social media, it is about how you engage with your customers when they walk in the store. It is about the referral relationship you build with local doctors, physiotherapists, local health groups and local community support groups. It is about telling the community what problem are you there to solve. It is about communicating your purpose for being in business and for what values you stand for.

A properly functioning marketing system is structured to get your audience to engage with your business, to communicate a message and to portray a personality. Think of it like a machine and all its different cogs. The machine won’t work without all the cogs working together.

It is a rare individual who can put this machine together on their own. Marketing is a profession all on its own. It also involves a well-structured plan and strategy. I am a firm believer that any business needs to have this marketing machine. One of my earliest inspirations was a business man and thought leader for the accounting profession who said we are a marketing machine first and a business second. If you want to succeed in modern day community pharmacy you need to commit to formulating a plan and strategy.

It’s not easy doing this on your own. Personally, I required a good mentor who allowed me and my team to get the best out of themselves and to determine our purpose and what values we stand by. It also required my team to be structured in a certain way to allow the business machine and the marketing machine to be functioning effectively.

It also required bloody good marketing talent. We made this happen and put the right people in place. That same talent is available to help you to take your business to the next level. Save yourself the time, money and effort by using our mentoring and marketing services. Be comforted in knowing you don’t need to know everything. We can support you on your journey. Our goal is the same as yours to see your business, grow and be prosperous.

Sarah Rendell is client communications manager at Peak Strategies, Pharmacy Specialist Chartered Accountants Australia