Marketing Tips for your Independent Pharmacy from an RMS Expert

If you are a frequent visitor to the RMS website, chances are you’ve noticed some changes over the past year.  We’ve become more active in social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, added content (like this blog), and a few videos.  Hopefully this made our site a little more user friendly. 

While everything at RMS is a team effort, many of these changes come from our Sales and Marketing department, headed by Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Mike Gross.  This week, I sat down to chat with Mike about some of the changes he has driven at RMS,  and see if we could apply some of his marketing expertise to independent and institutional pharmacies.

MikeThe bio: Mike earned his degree in marketing from Penn State University and has spent the last 20 plus years in sales with 17 of those years focused in the pharmacy POS industry.  An RMS employee since 2002, Mike has witnessed the company grow exponentially over the past 10 years.  Last year Mike was promoted to Vice President of Sales & Marketing.

What is the biggest challenge that independent pharmacies face today? Big box stores are starting to creep in on independent pharmacy territory, making today’s market more competitive than ever. Pharmacies need the ability to identify what is and isn’t working, to drive growth, efficiency and customer loyalty.  

With such intense competition in today’s market, what do you think is the biggest change that independent pharmacies need to make in order to stay relevant competitive and successful? The biggest thing they can do is figure out what their clients aren’t able to get elsewhere and play to that strength.  They need to identify what their “secret sauce” is and how they can be different from their competition. That can be the level of service, niche products, specialty prescriptions, home delivery options, etc.

What do you see as the most important marketing tool that an independent pharmacy can leverage? Every pharmacy is different, so promoting that difference, whatever it may be, is very powerful.  We’ve seen a huge trend in loyalty programs to entice customers and to increase store mindshare.  If your pricing is competitive, but you can offer additional value by implementing a points program around your higher margin products and services, you’ll increase your customer’s repeat business.  You can also drive traffic back in your store by offer them limited-time coupons printed on the receipt, or setting up status levels that customers can achieve which gets them additional benefits.  

Why do you think that Point-of-Sale is so vital to the success of independent and institutional pharmacies? POS technology has an endless list of benefits for pharmacies.  It can help increase efficiency by streamlining workflow completion, can contribute to patient happiness with more convenient checkout procedures, and maybe most importantly, helps pharmacies identify places for growth and is a part of making that growth possible.  If you think about it, every dollar collected in a store goes through their point-of-sale, so managing that aspect of the business is crucial.

You’ve made some pretty big changes to the scope of RMS’ online presence both via our website and on social media sites. What are a few tips you have for pharmacies trying to increase their presence on social networks or even just trying to make their website work for them? The biggest thing to understand is that people are paying attention, so give them something to engage with.  Have some sort of online and social media presence. Not everybody uses all of the outlets, but most people use at least one of them.  15% of all website traffic is mobile now and that number will only go up, so optimizing your website for use with a mobile device is going to become very important.  Consider 96% of Americans under 50 have a Facebook account, and 78% of all Americans are on the internet, and many people are checking in multiple times during the day.  

From your perspective, what does the independent pharmacy of the future look like? How do you see the industry evolving over the next 5 to 10 years or more? The world is only getting more impersonal, information (good and bad) is over-saturating, and life is becoming more fast paced.  Getting your message through to your customers and patients will become trickier. For independent pharmacies to thrive in the future, I think that a more personal experience will be key.  The pharmacy that takes their time and treats customers as individuals and not just a number will win the race.  Giving customers a place to breath in a world that’s becoming more and more intolerant could make or break the pharmacy of the future.

RMS Centers around 6 core words.  Reliable, Honest, Professional, Knowledgeable, Innovative and Crazy-Easy.  What word is your favorite and why? I love all of our words. But if I had to pick one, I would have to go with Crazy-Easy.  It touches everything we do. We can use it as the “yard stick” for where we are and how we are doing, whether that’s our technology offering, our support and services, or our training methods.  


If you’d like to check out how one RMS Customer is already embracing the future, check out this article. And if you enjoyed taking a peek behind the scenes at RMS with Mike, stay tuned to this blog for upcoming interviews with all of our senior staff.