In the pharmacy business, there is a distinct fondness for the way things used to be. Many affectionately remember soda fountains and friendly first-name exchanges at the service counter. One time my pharmacist dropped some new flavored cough drop samples to try in the bag with my prescription (not great, but still, fun to think back on). Yet, in a small, but powerful way, that kind of “kind” interaction was all the marketing a neighborhood pharmacy needed to keep people coming through the doors.
Literally, word-of-mouth advertising, by mouth— but my, how tastes have changed.
Today, in my position at Benzer Pharmacy, as much as the memory appeals to my sentimental side, I’ve got even greater enthusiasm for advances in marketing technology that have the potential to make the future of pharmacy more like its storied past. At least, more customer experience-oriented than it has been for quite some time, particularly in light of big-box domination over the little guys.
An introductory look at the potential of Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) for pharmacy marketers.
In truth, we’ve been here before. All the while, there’s been a steady evolution in marketing technology, from the early days of customer relationship management (CRM) systems and onward through different levels of development and functionality in data management platforms (DMPs). Each stage has introduced a new flavor, so to speak, but none have put everything together in the same bag.
As the definition goes, CDPs enable marketers to pool customer information together from various sources for the purpose of creating seamless, data-rich patient profiles. On the surface of it alone, that’s an incredible advantage for independent pharmacists of every stripe. Think of the customer journey from Google searches and website visits to mapping directions, clipping virtual online coupons, registering for loyalty programs, sharing stories through social media, and beyond. Each touchpoint represents a unique data point—a CDP promises the ability to connect all them together for the first time.
Better yet, it’s all separate and apart from the in-store visit. It doesn’t take much imagination to realize the value-added benefits that can be shared upon any given customer’s arrival. More importantly, a CDP enables marketers to begin dialogues and build relationships long before they enter the store. Pharmacists gain personalized knowledge of their patients; and, in turn, patients develop positive expectations of what they can plan to expect.
Even if that might be a little … unexpected.
Consider the opportunities to make suggestions to add a multivitamin or other dietary supplement as part of a treatment regiments. Or, perhaps extend the invitation to get a customer up-to-date on a flu shot or other immunization. Just a couple of examples out of dozens on the table.
Talk about a powerful cough drop for the health of independent pharmacies.
The upside in market potential for CDPs
According to statistics related in a February 2019 article posted on cmswire.com, during the first half of 2018, the number of CDPs in use grew 59%, bringing in $114 million in new funding. Just as impressively, the CDP Institutes projects the CDP market will increase to $1 billion in revenue in 2019.
In that regard, no doubt there’s strength in numbers powering the growth of this technology. Naturally, it caught my eye. But I also believe it dovetails perfectly with Benzer’s own efforts to enhance patient engagement across the board.
Just as our IT teams are pursuing new approaches to data warehousing and building patient portals, the same holds true for our marketing professionals. These days, everything we do is so data-driven there really is no way of going back to the old ways of doing business.
Unless, of course, you bring a little bit of the past back into the present.