Small Business Saturday was created by American Express in 2010 and represents an important sales opportunity for independent community pharmacies across the United States.
Independent community pharmacies are more than just a place where people go to get their medications. With more than 19,000 independent pharmacy locations across the United States, these places serve as vital sources of information about health and play an important role in the life of the community they serve.1
Although community pharmacies and the staff who work there are essential health care providers, many are currently facing challenges such as labor shortages and changes in the marketplace. That’s why it’s more important than ever for independent pharmacies to find ways to drive sales outside of prescriptions and increase their presence among their communities. It’s also crucial for those in the community to support independent pharmacies by providing business, especially during the holiday shopping season.
Small Business Saturday represents an important opportunity for independent community pharmacies to boost both sales and community presence. The marketing initiative, launched by American Express in 2010, takes place on the last Saturday of November (the day after Black Friday) and lasts throughout the holiday shopping season.2 Every year, consumers all over the country skip the big-box stores in favor of shopping small and supporting businesses in their local community.
“The cool thing about Small Business Saturday is that there’s so much intrinsic publicity about the day,” said Ginny Langbehn, vice president of marketing and corporate communications at American Associated Pharmacies. “When it comes to marketing your pharmacy, a little goes a long way because you don’t have to pay for all the exposure. It’s already built into the promotion of the day.”
Boosting sales and building lasting partnerships will impact more than just the holiday season. Here are some ways independent community pharmacies can make the most of Small Business Saturday.
Register for Small Business Saturday. The first thing community pharmacists should do is make sure they are listed as a Small Business Saturday participant. This can be done by going to the American Express website and registering to be included on the company’s interactive map. Pharmacy owners will need to submit their Employer Identification Number through the merchant profile page, then confirm their store’s location.3
There are a few requirements that pharmacies will need to meet to be added to the map, such as being located in the United States, accepting American Express credit cards, having no more than 25 locations, not being part of a franchise with more than 250 stores, and doing no more than $5 million in American Express annual charge volume. To assist participants, American Express offers free downloadable marketing materials on its website to help pharmacy owners advertise both online and in-store, including posters, customizable decals, and social media graphics and copy. “At a minimum, make sure your pharmacy is listed as a participant,” Langbehn said. “If that’s all you do, it’s better than nothing.”
Connect with local media outlets. A great way to get your pharmacy’s name out there for Small Business Saturday is by connecting with local media outlets. At least 1 newspaper or local television station will likely be doing a story about the initiative. Partnering with them to make sure your pharmacy is included is an opportunity you don’t want to miss out on, even if that inclusion is as simple as getting your pharmacy’s name on a published list.
“Call your local TV stations and newspapers [to] see [whether] they’re running stories on [Small Business Saturday],” Langbehn said. “If they’re going to do a segment on it, ask them [whether] they want to do an on-site interview [with] your pharmacy. That’s free media exposure. [If you] put yourself in the conversation, you can get some mileage out of it.”
Make the most of your social media. It might feel like all roads lead back to social media, but in this case, using platforms such as Instagram or TikTok are crucial for advertising your business during the busy holiday shopping season. Posting regular updates about Small Business Saturday promotions will let people know what they can expect and why they should visit your pharmacy.
Creating an event on Facebook and inviting your followers is another way you can let customers know you’re participating in Small Business Saturday. Langbehn also suggested offering a giveaway, such as a free T-shirt or mug, that customers can receive if they mention they came in because of seeing advertisements on a specific social media channel.
“Anywhere you can attribute traffic to a messaging channel is important, because you see where you’re bringing your [customers] in from,” Langbehn said. “Something specific to that channel, so when [customers] come in and mention it, you can start to see attribution for what exactly is bringing in your traffic.”
Build partnerships in your community. Are you looking to make more of an impact in your community this year? Building partnerships with other small businesses can create lasting positive changes for both businesses. One way to do this is through cross-promotion; try reaching out to other local merchants and ask whether they’re interested in putting flyers for your pharmacy in their store, and then offer to do the same for them. Pharmacies and their new partners can also collaborate on social media by hosting “takeover” days on each other’s Instagram accounts, showing what it’s like during a day at each store leading up to Small Business Saturday. This can help your independent community pharmacy reach new audiences it otherwise might typically not have.
“For community pharmacies, the most important thing is community connections,” Langbehn said. “Finding community partnerships where they’re building relationships as they go for awareness of their business in the community.”