Part 2: Stand Out

Part 2: Stand Out

In Part 1 of our series “A Time To Shine”, we talked about why this moment in history presents an incredible opportunity for independent Pharmacies to stand out and make their voices heard. (If you didn’t catch it: “Are You Leveraging Your 15 Minutes?”)

In “Part 2” below, we will discuss how your Pharmacy can rise above your competition.

"If you look, sound, and feel like every other Pharmacy
in your marketplace, your customers will immediately
default to price as their main differentiating criteria…
which will send them directly to a big box store."

Creating Apples and Oranges

Most Pharmacies offer similar goods and services, so it's hard for customers to differentiate you from your competitors without first doing business with you. Let's discuss a few ways to change that.

As we do so, always keep in mind that customers don't care about your Pharmacy, or what your Pharmacy offers. They want to know if you can help THEM move from Point A to Point B, and how good that experience will be for THEM.


Let's start with 3 macro decisions to think about when positioning your Pharmacy to become the leader in your market or community.

1) Price: You could opt to become the low price leader, which is generally referred to as a "race to the bottom." This is only a good choice if you have a significant cost advantage, which in the age of large chains is unlikely.

2) Noise: You could become the "noise leader" and spend more money on advertising than anyone else. Then sure, you'll be the loudest. But this can get very expensive and does not guarantee a positive return on investment.

3) Target: You could choose the best way for all involved; your Pharmacy and your customers. This choice is to: provide a solution, relief, or cure for a specific set of problems to a narrowly defined audience.

The key to the third choice is "narrowly-defined." This is because trying to be all things to all people is not ideal for attracting and retaining new customers.

Give Them A Reason

Think about something you commonly buy that you could definitely get cheaper. Let's say that you love your morning Starbucks coffee. You may have even bought into the whole "experience" surrounding it...(i.e., the identity of being a Starbucks drinker, the idea of its superior quality, the distinct aroma, the frenetic energy and feeling of community that you "feel" when you walk into a Starbucks store, and so on).

Much more goes into your decision process than the actual transaction of trading money for coffee. Starbucks has given you a reason to spend (a lot) more with them for a cup of coffee, that you could easily buy for less almost anywhere else you purchase coffee.

The moral of the story: If you give people a good reason, they will be willing to spend more for your products and services (or drive further to your Pharmacy when CVS is a block closer). To achieve this however, you must be able to confidently articulate in your messaging what you DELIVER (getting them from Point A to Point B) and be consistent.

The 80/20 Principle

Think about all that you do for your customers, and pinpoint what gets them the most results. In what area does your Pharmacy really move the needle for them? There is usually an 80/20 ratio to this...meaning that 20% of what you do, produces 80% of the results your customers receive.

What aspect of your business are your customers most satisfied with? What do they return for most often? What causes them to refer others? Is there anything that your Pharmacy is already known for?

After determining what is "delighting" your customers most, narrow that list down to which of these aspects of your business require the least time, money, and effort on your end to achieve. This will get you closer to identifying that 80/20 sweet spot.

Don’t Get Lost In The Land Of Ambiguity

When determining what results your Pharmacy delivers to these customers, try not to generalize with phrases such as "we deliver great customer service" or "we have quick prescription turn-around time."

Instead, state it in specific, concrete terms, such as "Our average wait time for ___ medication is ____ minutes." Or "We've helped the average ____ type of customer, resolve their ____ issue, within ___ days" (the more specific, the better).

You can also use the results of customer surveys, such as "79% of our customers surveyed said they would recommend us to a friend for Eczema care." These will be the ways you'll want to articulate later what it is that you can genuinely deliver to this group, so try to get granular on the specifics.

Once you have determined what types of results your Pharmacy delivers best, and requires the least output, you need to choose WHO would be the most eager to receive those results.

Identifying Your Tribe

When you target your message to narrowly defined groups, you are seen as the one who "gets them"...who "speaks their language."

This can all but eliminate your competition for that set of customers, creating long-term loyalty and proactive endorsements that build a momentum of their own.

A Bain study found that 80% of brands thought they were highly differentiated in their market, but only 8% of customers agreed.


Choosing a narrow subset of your market (called a "micro-niche") to laser focus on may seem counter-intuitive at first. However, it can transform your business. Remember, you are still open for business to the rest of the world. You are just laser focusing some of your messaging efforts on creating a tribe of loyal fans within a specific sub-group.

An example of a "niche" could be your Pharmacy focusing on becoming the heart disease expert in your area. A "micro-niche" would be doing that same thing, but for a specific subset of patients who are already a type of "community" and share common struggles and distinct pain points.

And, you don't need to "niche down" based on a condition. You could focus on a particular age group, such as elderly patients with limited mobility, patients with certain types of health policies (i.e., Medicare), or even students attending local universities. The sky is the limit when choosing your criteria.

Just make sure your Pharmacy successfully solves a problem that this group:

  • Has
  • Knows they have
  • Shares with others
  • Is actively seeking a solution for

Choose Wisely

There is more to the equation than just choosing the subset for which you can deliver the best results. This is your chance to get picky.

Let's face it. Some patient populations add to your profit margins, and some detract. Some are higher maintenance, and some cost your Pharmacy extra time and money to serve their needs. So you'll want to choose a "tribe" that positively affects your bottom line and, more importantly, that you'll be happy to serve long-term.

Finding Your High Value Customers

Before you choose a niche or micro-niche, it's always a smart idea to pinpoint who your High-Value Customers (HVC's) are. You do you do this by first determining the key metrics that create the most value for YOUR Pharmacy. It may be different for other Pharmacies.

For instance, you may be facing staffing challenges; therefore, an essential factor for you might be the level of hand-holding a particular type of patient requires.

Maybe a high-value area for your Pharmacy is treating patients with certain chronic conditions, who usually purchase a line of adjunct therapies that you offer in addition to their prescribed meds. Or maybe your highest-value groups use specific classes of drugs, such as specialty or compound medications, for which you specialize.

A critical factor to most Pharmacies is the quality and efficiency of fills (i.e., costs and availability of drugs, remit margins, low copays, copay assistance programs, etc.). There are multiple factors to consider. So look at the big picture and determine what is important to YOUR Pharmacy.

Identifying and using this information wisely can be crucial to your success. Once you determine your Pharmacy's ideal High-Value Customer, you can more easily target others like them.

Exercise: History Can Tell The Tale

Look over your Pharmacy's past results, read customer surveys, interview the people on your team who interact most closely with your customers and determine which types of customers…

  • Your Pharmacy consistently delivers the best results to
  • Are most satisfied with your service
  • Have a high repeat visit rate
  • Generate profitable transactions
  • Create the least headaches for your staff
  • Need meds/products/services that are accessible and available
  • Require least amount of time, cost, and effort to serve their needs

The bottom line here is: choose wisely. The more narrowly defined this group, the better. This will be your first targeted micro-niche.

So we've talked about the "Why," the "Who" and the "What" of this micro-niche strategy. In the following article of our series, we'll discuss the "Where" and the How."

Click here for Part 3: "Rising Above The Noise"

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