Prep for flu success

Emma Charlesworth, head of marketing at Numark, outlines your eight-week marketing plan for a high profit flu season.

It seems a little early to be talking about flu but in reality it’s time to start thinking about the forthcoming season. With nearly 80% of contractors in England offering the NHS service in 2017/18 many of you will have already been providing vaccinations but for some this may be your first year.

Whether you are new to the service, want to expand your NHS service to offer a private flu vaccination service or just continue to build on the growth from previous years, it is important to be prepared and have a well trained team, resources and strategy to ensure your programme is a success.

Your plan doesn’t have to be complicated but should outline what you need to cover off. This will include everything from training requirements, vaccine ordering, sharps bins and appointment cards, as well as how you are going to develop your service, who in the pharmacy is involved/responsible and how you are going to market your service locally.

The marketing side is critical: after all there’s little point is having a seamless and well planned out service if nobody knows you are offering it.

In-pharmacy marketing

This is a great way to raise awareness that the flu season is approaching. It is advisable to start putting your promotional materials out around a month before you are ready to start delivering vaccinations. It gives the chance for all regular customers to see what’s on offer and consider whether they want to book in for a vaccination.

Ensure you have set some time aside each week during the vaccination season so that customers can book an appointment. Handing out appointment cards will also help them remember to attend. Try not to clutter your counter unit, windows and promotional space with lots of other campaigns as it will detract from the flu season campaign.

Making customer data work for you

It is likely that you will have an abundance of customer data at your fingertips, so why not make it work for you?

Collecting your customers’ email addresses (with permission in accordance with the latest GDPR regulations), in order to contact them to invite them for a flu vaccination (or for other marketing activities) can be highly effective. There are a number of online email providers that allow you to send one well-designed email to a large number of recipients. The key thing here is to ensure that you have permission. If you don’t, customers may flag your email as spam and that will affect the deliverability of future emails.

Pure 360 is an excellent email platform and, depending on how digitally savvy you are, allows you to create emails from scratch using your own style and branding or simply use an existing template. Its website offers plenty of webinars and articles to guide you on creating your first email campaign too.

Social media can also be a great medium for advertising your flu service, both to existing customers who may already be following your social media accounts as well as targeting new customers through paid-for advertising.

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