An opportunity is being created to present the story of Australian pharmacy in a significant manner.
Significant because of the government beating inflicted on the profession, plus the “spin” created by competing health professions, has caused all of pharmacy to pause, lick its wounds and find the way forward.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has announced a significant, national communications project, entitled ‘Discover more. Ask your pharmacist,’ designed to advance the community’s knowledge of the value of their local pharmacy.
If pharmacy is to make progress it must get its story to the community in a narrative format that is easily understood and without ambiguity. “Brand Pharmacy” has to be a considered effort, well presented and be universally accepted by pharmacists themselves and the communities they serve.
It’s not an easy task given that most pharmacists have their own individual and different definition for what the job of a pharmacist really entails.
I have turned to Seth Godin, marketing guru, for some guidance.
Here are some of his recent words relating to brands and image:
A Bigger Logo?
The original reason for brands was to let the buyer know the source of the goods. “We made this,” says the organization we trust when we buy something.
Over time, though, brands have evolved into something we want other people to see, not just us. “I bought this,” says the person who wears or drinks or drives something with status.
The essence of a brand with social juice, of one that matters as a label, isn’t how big the logo is. No, what matters is that the buyer thinks the brand is important, and that the logo is a signifier that they’re paying for.
So no one complains that the logo on the wine bottle is not in tiny 18 point type, or that the BMW convertible has 8 or 9 or 14 logos on it, or that we can tell it’s a Harley just from the sound it makes driving down the street.
If you are angling to make your logo bigger but your customers don’t care (or resist), if your customers aren’t eager to say, “I bought this,” then you’re doing the wrong angling. The work that needs to be done is to create a product and a story that makes your customers want you to make the logo more prominent.
The Guild is working with Sydney agency Jack Watts Currie to create an engaging awareness campaign. Television and on-line advertisements will commence in late October, supported by a new website and Facebook page. Pharmacies around Australia will be involved, further informing their customers of what is on offer.
Let us hope that they have the maturity to pitch pharmacy’s story appropriately and includes a review of the “core business” of pharmacy, because pharmacy is not just dispensing – it is providing health information and clinical services.
Hopefully the PGA will revisit the “core business” of pharmacy and provide a full definition for the Jack Watts Currie agency so they can understand, ask the right questions and produce a strong narrative.
George Tambassis, National President of the Guild, said: ‘It is well known that Australians appreciate the important role that community pharmacy plays in health care, providing advice and guidance regarding medications.
‘The value that community pharmacies bring to the health care sector in Australia is truly exceptional. Working as a team, pharmacies become integrated parts of their community, delivering vital services that reach far beyond the traditional role of dispensing medicines.
‘Now it is time to let everybody know how much more we can do.’
‘Many Australians are surprised when they discover just how much their local pharmacy can do. This campaign shows them a broader view of pharmacy and encourages people in need of healthcare to first ask their pharmacist.’
i2P would challenge the above statement by George Tambassis and would say that the goodwill inherited by the current generation of pharmacists has not been earned and that newer generations (particularly gen Y and gen Z) have little understanding or engagement with pharmacy.
There should be no surprises for Australians to discover what their pharmacies can do if pharmacy’s story is regularly updated and presented. Brand pharmacy has simply been neglected for a decade and the lessons that should be learned from that neglect must never be forgotten.
The campaign is being funded by the Guild with support from the broader community pharmacy industry who are conscious of the importance of having the community informed about the broad role local pharmacy plays in the health care of all Australians.
A comprehensive suite of materials for display in pharmacies, amplifying the campaign message, have been created and will be available to order and customise online.
The Guild has been in regular contact with pharmacy banner groups, management groups and wholesalers and is hoping for a strong level of support from across pharmacy.
As custodians of Brand Pharmacy the PGA must always ensure a collegiate approach across all of pharmacy at all times.
This has not been a feature of the recent past and is the primary reason for any prior lack of cohesion.
It is good to see that the PGA is starting to have that vision once again.
More than 5400 pharmacies provide easy access to essential professional knowledge and support, often in times of health crisis, usually without an appointment and free of charge.
But perhaps the free service emphasis needs to evolve to a value-provided emphasis so that consumers are more acutely aware of what pharmacy service actually entails.
A certain level of “free” is necessary to attract new customers/patients but it must lead to a reasonable return for the effort expended.
This needs to be a new chapter in the narrative and a highlighted one – to ensure future survival.
I’ve left the final words for Seth Godin simply adding that pharmacists never used to be “tone deaf”.
Great marketers have empathy.
They’re able to imagine what it might be like to have a mustache or wear pantyhose. They work hard to imagine life in someone else’s shoes.
Bullies are tone deaf. They don’t always set out to be brutal and selfish, but their near-total lack of empathy amplifies their self involvement.
“What’s it like to be you?” is an impossible question to answer.
But people who aren’t tone deaf manage to ask it.