Sometimes you learn amazing things…at bars

marketing pharmacy compounding pharmacy marketing Jun 22, 2016

I learned a couple of lessons about marketing and business building at a tiki bar on Sunday. It’s things most of us already know, but those things that are so easy to overlook, but quite impactful to your business.

Long story short, a friend of ours, Kevin Henry, was doing his 10,000’th live show at the new hotel and bar in town. It’s a great place, right on the St Joseph harbor, just down from the lake.

Kevin will tell you he has not had a real job since sometime in the 80’s and makes his living playing Jimmy Buffet and other singer songwriter tunes that help people ‘escape’, all throughout the year here in W Michigan. Kevin is literally the best drink salesman I know, without ever suggesting someone should buy a drink- that’s salesmanship!

This brings in lesson #1

Provide the atmosphere congruent to automate sales of what you sell

This is how we designed our pharmacy. We knew we were going to be the natural pharmacy and compounding center, but we lead with natural medicine. We modeled our pharmacy after a little pharmacy we visited in St. Barth’s (it’s the one across the street from the airport if you have been.)

There was something about that store…people would just randomly stop by, to wander around the retail area, grab a cup of tea, and buy stuff they did not know they needed. (but I guarantee made their life better)

It’s much like the natural grocery business. If you have been in an earth fare or other natural food merchant…it wreaks wellness and natural foods.

Kevin provides the environment of good times, talking with friends, having strangers become new friends, singing along…which equals to more drink sales.

…The bar owners love this guy.

Take a look at your pharmacy.

What would it say to the average person coming off of the street, what would they think you were, what would they think that you sell?

Are you one of those old school independents with a raised pharmacy counter, generic vitamins, and greeting cards?

Or are you display wellness…with the congruent colors, non-cluttered space, exhuming a sense of calmness?

If you want to sell natural medicine, does it say “natural medicine”?

 This leads to lesson #2

The PERSONality of you or your business needs to be conveyed through your marketing message

Basically, people need to know who you are and what you stand for to match you or your business’ message and benefits.

First off, a quick speak about your marketing message. This is basically your elevator speech, or even your byline, “the reason why a customer should come to you instead of the competition.”

So, as we were sitting at the Tiki bar, we began speaking to the couple next to us. The wife recognized me from writing articles, giving talks in the area, and the husband introduced himself as the owner of the local distributor of beer and wine.

We started talking and he told me he was putting on the 10,000’th show party and they had Landshark beer which they distributed as the sponsor.

He was explaining everything he does to stand out and the local promotions that they do, as they are a small distributor and are playing against the big guys. He spoke of the relationships he has developed with the local breweries- which in our area we now have 12 breweries and 12 wineries within 15 minutes of our home. Not a bad place to live J

Anyhow, his “reason why” I and others should drink the beers he distributes is that he is the local guy and he is from the area…. not the other guys from other states who have no investment in our community.

The reason is good enough for me and as long as I like the beer he distributes, I will choose his beers, as long as I know which beers are his.

But I asked him, why have I never heard of his company? And, is it common for a consumer to care who their distributor is?

This guy was born for the job that he does. He is a natural people person, and I am willing to bet that if everyone who lives in our area, and visits the bars and restaurant’s was to meet him for just 30 seconds and hear his passion for the area, there would be a precipitous decline in the competitor’s beers.

And this is because his personality, which is the personality of his business is in direct alignment with his message.

But, he can only talk to so many people. He (like all of us) has to find more avenues to get is message out- one of the principles of marketing, right?

What are some of the avenues he could use?

·       Bar and restaurant managers. I know for a fact that at the inside restaurant at this hotel, the bar manager pushes the beers from this guy…I have seen it myself without knowing that they have a great relationship.

·       The staff, bartenders and servers (although, that’s a tall order to get them excited about your stuff, you can’t rely on them as your sole source. This is why alcohol companies do promotions inside of bars, giving away free stuff and drink specials to FORCE the servers to recommend their product.

·       His employee’s and THEIR PERSONALITIES stocking products at local beer stores and supermarkets

·       Varied avenues of marketing, sponsoring events, etc

Here’s what you need to do.

1.     Align your personality, or the personality of your practice with your marketing message

2.     Write a list of all the people who are ‘ambassadors’ of your marketing message

·       Your staff

·       Other practitioners and staff

·       Your customers

·       Your marketing material, whether it be through social media, in house, online, billboards…. everything

***And most importantly, make sure that you have crafted your message, and the behavior of your practice so everyone knows exactly what you are about.