the more you know about your audience, the easier it will be to predict which types of marketing elements will resonate with them.

> challenges, requires careful thought and planning.

Branding: the basics the terms 'brand' and 'branding' can be integral to a business' success - but what exactly do they mean? Does your business have a brand, and does it need one? Branding gets right to the core of your business' values. It is about discovering and communicating the essence of your business and what it delivers to your customers.

Marketing is so much more than just sending out a customer ezine, mailing out a promo flyer, or advertising in the local newspaper. from researching your audience, to developing and analysing campaigns, marketing plays an integral role in the success of your independent pharmacy.

Marketing and promotions may not be your skill set as a pharmacist, but knowing tactics for spreading the word about your pharmacy will help you reach and retain your ideal customers.

Below is a step-by-step process that will teach you the basics of how to plan, launch, run, and analyze a marketing campaign for your pharmacy.

Step 1: Research the first step to any successful marketing campaign involves doing research. the research phase is time consuming, but it will help set you up for success. there’s nothing worse than spending time and money on a campaign only to not have it produce


minimal results without knowing why. Spending time doing initial research will help you avoid this and will save you time and money in the long run.

What research should be conducted? focus on identifying and learning as much as you can about your ‘ideal’ customer. find out who they are, what they want, what they need and what their habits are like. once you identify their pain points then you can help provide them with solutions. Additionally, network with other pharmacy owners and find out what types of marketing programs have worked for them. When it comes to marketing, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, and there is a wealth of information easily within reach.

Step 2: Define your audience the second step is getting to know your audience. Without a strong understanding of your target customer, you won’t be able to develop a remarkable marketing campaign that addresses his or her needs. the success of your marketing efforts depends on how well you know your audience and their pain points.

Your target audience is more than ‘anyone and everyone who needs a prescription filled and is within driving distance of my store’. Although this may be partially true, having this mindset won’t make your marketing campaign successful. Remember, you can’t be everything to everyone. At some point, you will need to specifically define your target audience.

Step 3: Formulate a plan If you don't have a plan in place, your marketing program will likely fail. to launch and promote a strategic marketing plan for your pharmacy, you may want to include the following components: • A promotional calendar to help you organise and schedule all of your marketing efforts • templates for your email and direct mail marketing pieces • Step-by-step processes for campaign creation, pre-launch, launch, and post-launch deliverables • A list of media outlets including; newspapers, local magazines, radio, and television news stations • Identification of how much you are willing to contribute to your dedicated marketing budget

Step 4: Effective campaign timing You will need time to plan, have materials designed, time to promote, and time to analyze effectiveness of your campaign. Create a timeline with specific milestones and when they need to happen.

You may also want to schedule the following items: • Contacting partners/suppliers to organise promotions • Creating a calendar of deadlines and seasonal promotions • training your team about promotion and event specifics

Step 5: Evaluate and Adjust tracking a campaign is vital to gauging its effectiveness. You can do this using special promo codes, free phone numbers, tracking links to online ads and so on. Evaluation will help you determine how well your campaign elements are being received. Don't just hit the ‘go’ button and let it roll. nurture your program and make adjustments along the way to reach your goals and ensure success.

Retailing: Five ways to improve your business Retail is a fast-moving sector with great rewards for innovative businesses, whether focused on the local market in northern Ireland or beyond. Spotting market trends is important to stay ahead of the competition and provide products which customers want to buy. It’s

hard to stay successful in retail by standing still, so be on the lookout for ways to improve your business – here are five ideas to get you started:

• get smarter at marketing. traditional advertising forms – print, billboard, broadcast media – are important, but may not provide a good, measurable return for your retail business. Social media marketing, done well, can be a powerful way of capturing new sales. You might be able to partner with other businesses for mutual marketing benefit.

• Refresh your in-store merchandising. You’ve convinced potential customers to come to your store – what is the experience like? Have you maximised the opportunities of your window display? Are your products arranged in an attractive way?

• Is it time for a change? Keeping your finger on the pulse is a skill, but taking a decision to radically change your retail business can be daunting. new products bring new opportunities, and customers’ needs are always changing – can you boost your profits by diversifying your product range, or partnering with service businesses to improve your offering to customers?

• think about selling online. the internet offers a chance to rapidly expand your retail sales and gain valuable insight into customers’ needs both at home and in new markets. But you need to have the right products, the right sales pipeline (online marketing, a good website, secure online payment options, robust order fulfilment systems, excellent customer service) to have the best chance of success.

• find support in local business networks. one of the best ways to boost your retail business reputation is to get involved in local networks, whether through trade associations, enterprise agencies or charity work. these are also great places for informal advice and support on business issues, along with seeking more formal training schemes and financial support offered by government and business support organisations. take a look at the UCA learning & Development portfolio of training courses. •

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