Saam Ali explores the different ways you can spread the word about your flu vaccination service

Influenza is a major public health issue. It costs the NHS millions each year in GP and A&E referrals and has a significant detrimental effect on a person’s health, particularly when that health is already compromised, as may be the case in the elderly. That’s why a community pharmacy, the most accessible healthcare team out there, is without doubt the best place for people to get vaccinated.

As well as playing a huge part in improving the health of the nation this winter, flu jab clinics provide an extra source of income. And for the 2018-19 season changes negotiated by PSNC in the NHS programme mean, mean that contractors will be paid more per vaccination – fees have increased from £7.98 to £9.48. Furthermore, pharmacists are allowed to vaccinate at a patient’s home and all payments can be claimed electronically. All in all, that’s a big win for us in these tough times and these changes need to be capitalised on.

However, although pretty much every pharmacy in England and Scotland now offers the flu jab, ony a very small proportion of them fully maximise the potential of the service. Essentially, you could vaccinate many more people if you wanted to. How? It all comes down to having a strategy and executing that strategy well.

It’s tough for independents to take a step back from the business and plan because running a pharmacy is very full on. I know as I’ve managed many pharmacies in the past. But, if you want to make this the best, most profitable flu season yet, you have to sit down and create a strategy with deadlines – and try to stick to them. And when it comes to the important marketing aspects of that strategy, many pharmacy owners often forget about (or don’t consider) all the digital options.

Facebook advertising

Paid advertising on Facebook is an extremely powerful marketing channel and is probably the most effective tool to reach thousands of people in your locality. If you operate on online booking system, which is highly recommended these days, you can design the advert to help more people click through and fill out their details online. The great thing about this is that you can track how well the advert is performing using Facebook pixels. Although effective, this form of marketing does require some experience and technical skills. But it’s nothing you can’t learn on YouTube!

Pharmacy Flu Jabs - https://pharmacyflujabs.co.uk/

This site has become the biggest online directory promoting local community pharmacy’s flu jab services. With just under 1,000 pharmacy listings, it is helping people find a flu jab service near them either on the site itself or through a Google search. The great thing about a site like this is that people find you organically instead of the other way around. All you need to do is create a listing on the site – it can be done in under 10 minutes – and let time do the rest of the work for you. It’s a free service too.

Google My Business

If you have yet to own and verify your Google My Business profile, then you’re losing business. I can’t stress how important this marketing tool is and it’s constantly changing. It represents your business on Google Search and Maps. It can help you to market your flu jab service, through post creation, offers and paid adverts. You can  also add images and videos about your flu jab service to your profile.

Linkedin

Guess where all your important key stakeholders are? Linkedin – and it’s probably the most effective tool in developing B2B relationships right now. Write a list of all the key stakeholders you want to connect with, the businesses in your area, and then contact them directly. By building up a rapport through direct messaging, you can then offer to vaccinate their staff at their place of work or by supplying a voucher. Linkedin is the new digital method for direct outreach that works extremely well.

The above is only a fraction of what you can do online. There are many, many more. But what also makes a successful strategy is your people. Staff training and reinforcing team morale is right up there too. Yes, there’s lots and lots to think about, but with a carefully curated strategy you can systematically work towards having the most successful flu season yet!

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