Eric D. Garcia
Socially Acceptable columnist Eric D. Garcia is an IT and digital consultant who works exclusively with veterinary practices and speaks at veterinary conferences around the world. He founded Simply Done Tech Solutions to help veterinary practices improve their services and marketing communications efforts. He is a member of VetPartners, an association for veterinary practice development. He was named Practice Management Speaker of the Year at VMX 2020. Learn more at ericgarciafl.com
Online pharmacies have grown in popularity over the past decade, attaching themselves to one veterinary practice after another. It’s no surprise that the trend has accelerated in the wake of COVID-19.
Yet, Diggo reported a couple of startling statistics: While 63% of veterinary hospitals have an online pharmacy, only 16% of pet owners think their practice has one. Moreover, we know that 8 in 10 pet owners who are not aware of their clinic’s online pharmacy say they would consider purchasing medications from one and at least half would likely do so.
It’s not uncommon for practices to sign up for an online pharmacy, complete one email campaign, say that they’ve done everything they can to market the pharmacy and move on. Forget the “If you build it, they will come” quote from the Kevin Costner film “Field of Dreams.” You need to continuously market your online pharmacy. You need to talk about it. You need to engage with it.
To help you get started, here are six tips for marketing your practice’s online pharmacy. Whether you already operate one or are launching one, let me help you make the most of this underutilized resource.
1. Vendor Relations
Work with your online pharmacy vendor to send email campaigns at the cadence the company recommends. Many vendors have data to support the recommended number of emails. Most practices assume that too many are sent to clients, which is understandable, but it’s important to look at the percentage of emails that lead to a purchase. This will help you understand the value of email cadence.
2. Team Talk
Speak with your team members about the value of your online pharmacy. Have them read this article. They won’t wholeheartedly advocate for your online pharmacy if they don’t understand its full value. Routinely discuss your pharmacy during team meetings.
3. Call to Action
Make sure your filled prescriptions have a call-to-action label that guides clients to your website. For example, “Be sure to schedule your next refill on our website at simplydonevetclinic.com.” Have your support team promote your pharmacy verbally and market it on printed materials such as prescription bags.
Set up text and email reminders to drive clients to your online pharmacy for the home delivery of medication refills. Most communication platforms can do this automatically, so take advantage of them.
5. Client Conversion
Take the prescription faxes that come in, contact those clients and let them know they can now get their usual online prescriptions through you. Know that not all your clients will be swayed to your online pharmacy; some were won over by another online retailer. This is another reason to actively promote your online pharmacy.
6. Social Media
Don’t be afraid to have fun advertising your online pharmacy on social media. Snap a photo of a cat on top of (or inside) a medications delivery box, making sure to include your practice’s online label in the shot along with a cute caption. Take a photo of an adorable geriatric dog or cat eagerly awaiting the next delivery. This is where you can let pet owners and potential clients know that they can benefit from your online services. Keep the terminology general and say things like “Did you know you can shop online for your pet on our website?”
You can even get your clients involved and ask them to share pictures using your hashtag for reposting on your practice’s social media accounts.
Don’t worry about being new to the online pharmacy world — you’re not the only one. By following the steps above, you’ll successfully promote this new facet of your practice. Think of it as one more way to strengthen the bond you share with clients. These days, that’s more important than ever.