Pharmacists have got to learn how to sell themselves, says MedicX's Gavin Birchall
Branding can be a divisive subject. Some brands you love. Some you hate. Some are just a bit ‘eh'? Marketing, as a key part of branding, runs along the same lines with the golden snitch of customer advocacy achieved by far fewer brands than marketers would like. Now that we have entered the ‘social' age and brands are giving away all sorts of prizes for a mention in your Twitter feed or on your Facebook wall the game continues to change rapidly.
What does this mean for pharmacy? We are, after all, not the most nimble of professions in a lot of ways and change does not come naturally or quickly for many of us. During these austere times with the triple whammy of delayed contract settlement, an oppressive category M adjustment and recent stock shortages, gross margins are under serious pressure and many of us are looking for ways to save money.
As usual when this is the case, the marketing department comes under the spotlight for savings. It's understandable. Historically, marketing has not been a data-driven function, with as much art as science involved. This does not usually please CEOs and finance directors or indeed anyone running their own business.
We are, after all, not the most nimble of professions in a lot of ways and change does not come naturally or quickly for many of us
This general situation has changed since the advent of digital marketing and big data analysis but the success of many traditional marketing methods is still very difficult to measure even for large corporations, never mind your average independent contractor. How do you marry branding with the day job?
I have been thinking about this recently and what may appear to be a clash between the two areas I have focused on in my recent career: operations and marketing. Whether you are an employee in a company or you run your own business you need to think about both so we are all in the same boat even if you don't appreciate it yet. Read on and you will.
I was a little conflicted about how to deliver these two apparently disparate areas within my own business but armed with an important notion that I have already written about I set forth. That notion is that a brand is an experience. If a brand is an experience and your operation is what you build to create an experience then it follows that in fact they are one and the same thing. It took me a while to really get this too. Take your time.
Gavin Birchall is operations and marketing director at pharmacy group MedicX Pharmacy. He believes pharmacy is misunderstood and can represent itself better, so he started his Face of Pharmacy project to address this. Share your thoughts on the profession with him here; Gavin promises that if you start the survey with a drink you'll have completed it by the bottom of the cup, "unless you have a lot to write or a very small cup".