The Business of Pharmacy Podcast™
Jan. 9, 2023

Marketing Challenges for Pharmacies | Nicolle McClure, GRX Marketing

Marketing Challenges for Pharmacies | Nicolle McClure, GRX Marketing

Nicolle McClure and Mike Koelzer discuss the challenges of marketing for community pharmacies and the importance of both digital marketing and personal interactions, as well as the difficulty of tracking marketing effectiveness and the need for independent pharmacies to differentiate themselves through personal relationships and community involvement.

  • Introduction to Nicolle McClure, president and owner of GRX Marketing, a full-service marketing company that works with independent pharmacies in the US
  • Discussion of the challenges of marketing for community pharmacies, including the importance of both digital and face-to-face interactions in building a pharmacy's brand and growing its customer base
  • Difficulty in tracking the effectiveness of certain marketing efforts and the importance of considering both cold, numerical metrics and warm, personal interactions
  • Advice for independent pharmacies to differentiate themselves from larger chains by focusing on personal relationships with customers and local community involvement
  • Importance of good customer service in the pharmacy and its impact on marketing efforts
  • Challenges of creating and posting regular content on social media and the importance of having a consistent presence
  • Importance of having a unique brand and message to differentiate independent pharmacies from larger chain pharmacies
  • Use of QR codes in marketing and their ability to track effectiveness
  • Nicolle's background in pharmacy marketing and the importance of marketing for independent pharmacies
  • GRX Marketing company consists of 12 employees who work in-house and do not typically contract out work
  • Challenges of working with clients who have a hard time narrowing down their message and focusing on one thing
  • Challenges of marketing for pharmacies, including lack of word-of-mouth marketing and difficulties in tracking effectiveness
  • Use of referral programs and email marketing as promotional strategies

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(Speech to Text)

Mike Koelzer, Host: [00:00:00] Nicolle, For those that haven't come across you online, introduce yourself and tell our listeners what we're gonna talk about today.

Nicolle McClure: Yeah. I'm Nicolle McClure, president owner of grx Marketing, and we're a full service marketing company that works with independent pharmacies across the United States. Um, so today I think we're just gonna talk about all things marketing and, um, maybe the ins and outs For community pharmacies, 

Mike Koelzer, Host: Nicolle. I like talking to people cuz you're not a pharmacist, you have a marketing degree

Nicolle McClure: correct.

Mike Koelzer, Host: and I like talking to people that don't have the actual blood of a pharmacist because you can look at us critically even though on the inside you can give us a critical look and we're kinda weird, aren't we? We pharmacists?

Nicolle McClure: Yeah, I mean, we've, I've come across a few interesting ones in my time, but, I think the challenge with pharmacists in marketing is, um, a lot of pharmacists [00:01:00] are very black and white.

The stats and Yeah. And marketing as, as much as we try to, give the reporting and, uh, the ROI behind it, sometimes there's, it is just not there, it's, Just the nature of the marketing.

I mean, cuz some of it's just brand awareness or community stuff feel good stuff, which all plays an important role in growing your pharmacy. But, um, I can't equate it to five people transferring their prescriptions because we did the soccer promotion or something like that.


Mike Koelzer, Host: Do you think there's anything lost in it? Being able to follow metrics now, online and getting the hits and all that stuff. Is there a disadvantage of that anywhere? back in the old days the saying goes, someone just mentioned on the last show it's like 50% of our advertising works, we just don't know what 50%.

But are there any disadvantages in knowing more numbers these days?

Nicolle McClure: I think the only disadvantage is maybe all of your eggs in [00:02:00] that basket while I'm getting X amount from Facebook or digital ads and I'm gonna put my whole focus there for marketing, where in doing that, you're missing a key component of marketing in your community.

so for example, reaching out to doctors, they're not probably gonna find you on your Facebook page, that takes the personal interaction. Same thing with your older demographic. Um, obviously a lot more older people are on Facebook now, um, to see the grandkids photos and all of that, but they're still missing that portion of the population that a lot of pharmacy owners are trying to target.

Nicolle McClure: So, and just, getting out in the community. , we have a client here that, we do help with events and, go to the diabetes walk and stuff like that. and having that face-to-face interaction, asking questions, I mean, you can't get that through a digital ad. So that's kind of, and your competitors are doing the digital marketing too, [00:03:00] right?

So cvs, Walgreens, that's where they're putting all their money. They're not going to those community events. So, um, I think that's kind of the only double-edged sword with digital marketing as um, especially if it's like you're just knocking it out of the park with it, not thinking about the other part of the other side of marketing.

Mike Koelzer, Host: As pharmacists like to do, if you live by the numbers, which are often a little bit colder because you can't always put a return on, you know, stopping by someone's birthday party or something that invited whatever, you can't put a number on that but those are the things that are usually warmer than just things that you put numbers on.

Nicolle McClure: for sure. And I mean, that's where we've really seen a lot of success. Um, before I started Jerks Marketing, um, I worked for a group of independent pharmacies here in the central Iowa area. and that's really, I mean, we took that grassroots approach and that's kind of how we, um, really saw an increase in sales year over year [00:04:00] is getting out into those community events, um, and doing that type of stuff.

And yeah, to your point, it's hard to always put a number on that, but obviously it was helping because they were seeing. growth in their overall sales numbers, um, and new patients.

Mike Koelzer, Host: I think the value, Nicolle, of what you do, any marketing firm, especially one that focuses on some of the stuff that you do is owners might feel they do that. They might feel the hour involved and stuff. It's like, well, when's the last time you did this? Oh, it's like three and a half years ago.


Nicolle McClure: Yeah.

shook someone's hand that came by or something.

Mike Koelzer, Host: And I think that again, the less numeric stuff and maybe the more warm stuff because there's not numbers on it, and because. People tend to think they have to be in a mood a little bit for that, it's great, but it can easily drop off the radar where you can [00:05:00] add direction and focus.

 You can add direction and infrastructure to that.

Nicolle McClure: Yeah. And that's a lot of what we do with clients is we come up with a strategic plan for them. So yeah, giving them ideas of things to do each month in their pharmacy, but then also, what we can do from our end to help grow their business. Um, cuz I think that's the other side with marketing that is hard for a lot of business owners if you have to be consistent at it.

you can't just do it. Once every three and a half years of going out and shaking somebody's hand, um, you always have to be out there. Um, you can't just be when a competitor closes and now you're like, Hey, I'm here. come to my pharmacy. Especially if you're in a big market where you've got a lot of competition because people just don't remember you.

Nicolle McClure: I mean, when I talk to pharmacy owners, I'm like, think about how many messages you see throughout the day on social media. when you're driving into the pharmacy, it's like, we're inundated. And so if you're not constantly kind of [00:06:00] in people's brains, then you're just forgotten about. And I mean, especially with pharmacy, it's not a, it's a service that you use when you need it

Mike Koelzer, Host: Having that top of mind awareness, at our pharmacy, we do a lot of medical equipment and our definition of top of mind. Had to be with the doctors for that stuff because we couldn't afford to be top of mind for a wheelchair that someone's not gonna need for like 90 years.

You know what I

mean? So it's hard to be top of mind for 90 years and then finally you hope to get 'em, a week before they die in a wheelchair. But that's where we had to redefine it a little bit and say, well, alright, we're top of mind with the referrals. The refers to the doctors and, and those kinds of things.

We can't afford top of mind there. Obviously you can when you're dealing with patients who their family might need something once a week or

Nicolle McClure: I think you bring up a really good point too with marketing is, you kind of have to pick where you want your targets at, right? Like you figured out with [00:07:00] equipment, it doesn't make sense to go after patients. It's more a prescriber approach. And I think that's it too.

you can't be everything to everybody, especially if you're offering the equipment and compounding and packaging and so you have to kind of pick your niche of who do you wanna, who do you wanna go after? Um, and you have to be okay with not grabbing everybody, um, cuz it makes more sense to put more dollars in.

Nicolle McClure: to hit that targeted group multiple times than to hit every single person in your community.

Mike Koelzer, Host: It's always been hard for me as a pharmacy to narrow the niche down when I'm reading marketing books. They're like, if you sell cigars, you know your niches, 35 to 55 year old men who have this amount of income and things like that. So you bring it back to the pharmacy and you're like, okay, we're gonna, niche down, it's like the next prescription is for, Someone who's in hospice.

And then the next one is for, a baby that was born, three hours ago and you're [00:08:00] like, they're all socioeconomic differences and different ages and stuff and, I think that's a hard conversation with pharmacists where they're niches because you're just serving generally across the whole gamut.

Nicolle McClure: True. Um, but you know, what we tell them to do is kind of look at their current k. Patient base and on average what do you kind of see? and I guess in a very generalization statement, we typically recommend promoting women 40 plus. Um, cuz we found that the women are typically the decision makers in the household for going to the doctor and getting your prescriptions is usually done by the woman in the household typically. So that's kind of what we will give as a general starting point for targeting. Um, but then, yeah, to your point, it's okay.

So let's hone in from there. So if we wanted to do compounding or something then that, that target group might shift a little bit

 Another thing that we do too is we [00:09:00] subscribe to a market research, um, firm that we then will pull data for our clients.

So, um, when they sign up, we'll give them a market report. So that kind of helped shine light on any sort of, uh, potential new market areas as well that maybe they didn't think.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Yeah. Yeah. It's an 

interesting divide you made there because, I guess there's who's making the decisions and then who they're making decisions for. In other words, the marketing can go to them, but it doesn't necessarily have to only focus on hormone replacement or this or that. It could be we're gonna market to this area, but those are the decision makers for, let's say, babies.

Something like that.

Nicolle McClure: Right. Yeah, absolutely. So, I mean, if it's a family, the woman in the household could be making a lot of decisions for. Her husband for the kids, so maybe she's seen different messages kind of depending on the [00:10:00] goal

Mike Koelzer, Host: So Nicolle, who's your average? Customer, is it a pharmacy that's done nothing and they don't know where to start? Is it someone that's already marketing wise? Is it someone that's already rolling and they think they need help? Who typically is calling on you?

Nicolle McClure: Typically, those that you know, haven't done anything for a while. usually six months to a year haven't done any marketing. they're seeing that dip in sales and so they're reaching out to us saying, I know I need to do something, what can we do?

 I would say the other side of that is, uh, a pharmacy. Maybe they're a multi-store that has several locations and. , they're kind of all doing their own thing and doing several different things, and so they're looking for somebody to come in and kind of give a strategic voice and, kind of guide the ship, so to speak, for their locations, um, for that overall consistency.

2 Mike Koelzer, Host: Do you ever have someone pull you in because they're kind of bickering, like the leaders are bickering on [00:11:00] marketing let's blame it on Nicolle as like the consultant. Whatever she does, she's like the tiebreaker. Is there any of that or don't people care that much to get in those kinds of arguments of the marketing?

Nicolle McClure: Yeah, I don't know that we've had too much of that. I mean, we get blamed for stuff sometimes, but I don't know if it's about, um, between owners or anything like that. But, 

Mike Koelzer, Host: My brother. He owns a branding firm out in California, and I'm like, Tim, you got these big companies. Don't they have departments, marketing departments, people making huge money leading these departments? And I forgot what he said. I think it's because I was so stuck on my own idea.

Just seems like a lot of people are scapegoats because they don't want to take the heat. They can say, Tim said this, he didn't see it. Right. Instead of, we made that decision,

Nicolle McClure: I think sometimes where that maybe comes into play a little bit for us is, we can do all the greatest marketing in the world and bring people to a pharmacy, but if that infrastructure is not in place [00:12:00] at the pharmacy itself for, the staff to be inviting and an easy transfer process in place and.

cuz you still have to have a good interaction, um, at the pharmacy. And so that can sometimes hurt your marketing campaigns overall. Um, and so I, we do see that once in a while where, you know, maybe the staff either doesn't know about the marketing efforts, um, so they're not aware of it or they're not on board with it.

Nicolle McClure: So when they, when the pharmacy starts with us, we always tell 'em, okay, get the text, tell the support team, everybody. Like, here's the plan for marketing. Here's what's going on now. So everybody's involved in it.

Mike Koelzer, Host: It's hard too because, like McDonald's, billions served in all this marketing and you think that they would have. everything down. And then I walk in, I don't know, a couple years ago, I walk in and I'm standing there for like two and a half minutes to order a cup of coffee, everybody's doing all this [00:13:00] stuff in that background and stuff, and it's hard because you can pull everybody in and do things, but it's like the whole package, you know, that same thing can happen

Nicolle McClure: Yeah. Yeah.

Mike Koelzer, Host: then it's almost worse cuz you trusted 'em and then they blew it, sort of,

Nicolle McClure: yeah, exactly. You are trusting that then your staff is going to, treat those new patients or treat a customer that comes in that wants to know about a service that you offer 

cuz the owner can't be, everywhere 

Mike Koelzer, Host: What kind of feedback are you getting from owners on social media? I'm sure it's different now than it was 10 years ago. Is it, they know, obviously they have to get in. Are they gun shy? I'm sure you get some, maybe 75 year old owners that's gonna be different than someone who's 30 something like that.

Nicolle McClure: Yeah, I would say, for the most part now, almost all pharmacy owners, they have a Facebook page or some sort of social media. When I first started this, a lot of 'em didn't. So that's definitely [00:14:00] changed. it's hard for them, no matter the age of coming up with content on a regular basis is a challenge.

Um, unless you're gonna have somebody at your pharmacy that's constantly posting photos or writing up a copy, I mean, cuz. To be good at social media, you need to do it two to three times a week. so coming up with unique content, um, just to keep your page active is the challenge I think for a lot of owners.

Mike Koelzer, Host: That creativity is hard. I know, like with the show here, the only thing I have to be creative with for social media really are just. These questions,, our conversation, besides that, a lot of the stuff I do is kind of plug and chug, it's cutting these things apart and making little blurbs and doing this kind of stuff.

So there's a lot of content from that. But outside of you know, to have somebody and say, be creative every day or three times a week forever, that's a tough thing for people.

Nicolle McClure: Yeah, exactly. And so that's where we see a lot too, where [00:15:00] people, will maybe be postings to their social media, um, on their own, but then it, it falls off and it's, it starts at, they haven't done it for a week, and then it's a month, and then it's six months. And then by then it's basically like the page doesn't exist.

Mike Koelzer, Host: You're almost better to not have a social account than to have an old one. 

Nicolle McClure: Yeah. I mean, they're about equally bad. I mean,

it's,because if you don't have one at all, then um, I think people just don't think you exist because a lot of people will go online and do their research before they even step foot in the pharmacy, so they're looking at your Google business page, they're looking at where you are on social media.

They're seeing how you come up just on the Google search results. And so, . Yeah. If they see nothing, it's like, well, guess I'm looking for another pharmacy. Um, but yeah, then if they find your Facebook page and they go to it and they haven't seen a post in, pre covid, they're probably gonna question using your [00:16:00] pharmacy.

Mike Koelzer, Host: I take it Nicolle, you guys do social stuff then for the pharmacies.

yeah. What is that you do for them in general?

Nicolle McClure: So we'll write social media posts, um, to post to their Facebook page. And a lot of that, I mean, it's some general health information, but it's also based on, kind of what their services are. Um, we'll do employee spotlights and contests and things like that. Um, we also monitor their page, so if they get a bad review or a question, um, we will alert them to it right away.

cuz that's, I mean, the frustrating thing from a consumer standpoint, if you go on and ask a question and nobody responds back. So that's where we're kind of that go between, um, to alert the client, Hey, Susie Smith wants to know something that we can't answer.

if it's like, Hey, what are your hours? We'll just do that on the client's behalf. But if it's something we're not sure on, we get with the client to make sure that gets answered in a timely manner.[00:17:00] Cuz a lot of times, I mean, with bad reviews, a lot of it comes from a very reactive situation, so if it's, they can get an answer back from the pharmacy or, had trouble with insurance or something like that, people often go right to social media or Google reviews or something, um, to voice their disappointment.

Nicolle McClure: So kind of getting on those quickly is important.

Mike Koelzer, Host: People in the middle don't say too much. The happy ones might do something, they might tell their friends, but they're not really looking to go on and make a great thing out of it online.

 but people that are offended, years ago you didn't do anything. You just kinda, throw an ag at their window or something

, but that's not very productive. It released that anger in you, but it wasn't productive. But now you can get online and give a review and stuff like that.

Nicolle McClure: yeah. Which, I mean, it can be good or bad. Unfortunately with pharmacy, a lot of times what we see is when it's a bad review, it's situations that can't be helped, so it's like, it's not really a quite a fair [00:18:00] review. 

Um, for that pharmacy owner, but you know, that's where we're trying to help them get those positive five star reviews from customers, to kind of help bury those

Mike Koelzer, Host: The other day, I was thinking about this customer who came years ago and she complained to me the next day. I think she said, I was here at, uh, three minutes after you closed.

And I saw someone in there and they looked right at me and they didn't care to help me or whatever. So I was thinking, well, how do I have my staff do this? And I sat, down to write something and eventually it dawned on me, it's like we were closed

You know, know, you don't have to say, Hey staff if you can, if you see them and you're this and that, it's like, that's why you just have a closing time. You know, you haven't agreed upon closing times. Cause a lot of times people they're gonna complain about something that's just outta your control.

Nicolle McClure: So that's where it's like, yeah, we try to, if that happens, help our clients and cuz I mean, really you can respond back to it and kind of, give your side of the story generally [00:19:00] if, there's no HIPAA stuff going on. But, um, Google's not gonna take the review down unless you can show like, um, bullying or abusiveness or something like that.

So really our tactic is just, go out and talk to your customers that love you and here's some bag stuffers or, promote it on Facebook. Hey, give us a five star review and kind of just bury that,

um, negative review. Yeah, because, and two, if people are looking through and they see, mostly five stars and they see one or two, one or two stars, they're gonna realize that it was, a one-time thing,

Mike Koelzer, Host: Yeah. Maybe it's because I own a store, but when I see one or two stars, I just figure they're a crackpot, that's an old term for us. Old farts, Nicolle. I don't mean crack, you know, crack. They're just a cracked pot. I guess that

I'm looking for the threes, you know, I'm reading the threes cuz I always look at Amazon and Spencer, they have like one review and you wonder if they're even on the right product. You know,

sometimes they're so far off.

Nicolle McClure: Yeah. A lot of those, it's like, what? Wait, [00:20:00] what? Oh, you didn't know how to put the batteries in. Right. And so you

Mike Koelzer, Host: Yeah. That kind of stuff. Speaking of the reviews, do 

you promote the stores to get Google reviews and so on? How do you promote that to the 

Nicolle McClure: Yeah, it's definitely good to have reviews on Google. Um, so we can help them do that. Um, we've helped them like put QR codes in the pharmacy where somebody can scan it on their phone and it takes 'em right to the pharmacy's Google business page and they can fill out a review, um, do it off their Facebook, say, Hey, click this link to give us a quick review.

Um, some of our clients, we do email marketing for them, so we'll have an email that kicks out like, thanks for using our pharmacy, we'd love for you to give us a review. That type of thing. So, um, yeah, definitely important to make sure you're getting. Reviews, not only, we kind of just baseline it as, four stars are [00:21:00] better for an average, um, but you also want ones fairly recently, right?

So if somebody goes there and they haven't seen a review in three years, it's well, what's this business doing? Might give somebody a little bit of pause. So trying to get some, we suggest doing a push a couple times a year. Um, just



3 Mike Koelzer, Host: how are QR codes catching on with the stuff you're doing? You mentioned that with the review and stuff. Are people using those 

Nicolle McClure: Yeah, I mean, QR codes are kind of a funny thing because, I mean, Came out several years ago and, we used them a little bit of marketing and then they just kind of 

died. And then with Covid, um, they 

Mike Koelzer, Host: Right. 

Nicolle McClure: now.

And so, and I mean, you couldn't go to a restaurant without seeing a QR code.

 I see 'em in a lot of places, I'll see 'em on TV commercials now and on brochures and stuff like that. So I think they're definitely useful. Um, the nice thing is like we [00:22:00] can track how they are, how often it gets scanned and things like that.

So it kind of goes back to that, that metrics 

reporting. Um, as opposed to, the alternative is just bringing in a coupon to the pharmacy and now somebody has to either keep track of that physical coupon or they have to make sure it's entered into the dispensing system correctly.

Um, so it's sometimes a bigger barrier for reporting those metrics.

Mike Koelzer, Host: yeah. The one Super Bowl ad, I don't forget who it was, this last game, they basically had a QR code and it was just like pong. It was just going slowly, bouncing around real slowly 

Nicolle McClure: Yeah, it reminded us of back when you used to like watch DVDs at like school and you'd have that icon that bounced around, I think they were definitely playing on that nostalgia a little bit, but yeah, I think that was only like a 10 or 15 second


I don't even know what they paid for. 

Mike Koelzer, Host: and it wasn't long.

Nicolle McClure: Yeah. And I think they are. a great 

response. I 

I mean, it's pretty [00:23:00] ingenious actually, because I don't even know that they said anything. I

Mike Koelzer, Host: no, I don't think so. I think it may have had an initial or something. I forget what it was. It might have been a crypto thing. I forget it was something kind of hip. Now, I forget

what it was though. 

Might have been Coinbase.maybe I forget.

 Speaking of those balls bouncing are on the screen. When I was about 10 years old, we got one of the first video games and it was called Odyssey. And all it had was this square like bouncing from side to side.

Mike Koelzer, Host: And then they gave you like eight different cellophane. colored things. and you would actually press those onto your tv. So there'd be one that was green, that would be tennis, and then you would take that down and you'd have one that looked like a basketball court.

You'd take that off and that thing was doing the same damn thing the whole time. I was just bouncing around. But those were your different games, with cellophane on the TV screen.

Nicolle McClure: That's funny. I don't know that I've ever heard that 

Mike Koelzer, Host: You're too young for [00:24:00] That was Odyssey and then next up, I think was Atari.

We couldn't believe that as kids. It's like, we can do this without having to put a quarter in every time.


Mike Koelzer, Host: Nicolle, why pharmacy? Why are you in pharmacy versus other marketing? How did you land in pharmacy?

Nicolle McClure: I, 

I have been in pharmacy for almost 20 years. 

Mike Koelzer, Host: That's a long time now.

Nicolle McClure: Yeah. So the first year I started was when Medicare Part D came out. It's my first year. I took a job, um, with Medicare Pharmacies Incorporated, uh, which was based out of West Des Moines here, um, cuz it's a franchise business to start your own pharmacy.

and so I worked with a group of pharmacies, um, doing their marketing 

Mike Koelzer, Host: How'd you get into that? Just because you had a marketing thing and that was where you landed.

Nicolle McClure: Yeah, uh, it was my second job outta college. Um, my first job was, uh, in a publishing company here in Des Moines. Um, and so, yeah, I was just looking for my next job and, um, happened to [00:25:00] find it and thought it was interesting and, um, worked there till 2008, um, when they, our offices closed They were, sold to, Cardinal Health.

And they just kept the offices in St. Louis, which is where Medicine Shop used to be based out of. 

Um, and so our offices went away, our positions went away. Um, and I was lucky enough to be offered a job, um, with a group of pharmacies here in the Central Iowa area. Um, it was a group of Medi-Cal pharmacies.

Um, at the time there were only eight locations and so I was brought in to kind of streamline their marketing. They were kind of each doing their own thing. There was no budget. There was just spending here and there.

So, that's where I came in and then, started new programs for the pharmacies and then started JX Marketing in 2010. Um, because from my previous connections, uh, with Meap Corporate and just, putting these programs together for the pharmacies that, I was a part [00:26:00] of, just saw an opportunity, to help other pharmacies with their marketing

Mike Koelzer, Host: Does they have a meaning? G R x.

Nicolle McClure: no, the president's name is Greg.

That's kind of where it came from. So I just started JX Marketing kind of as a side hustle for that company and. over the last 10, 11 years, it grew, um, to its own sustainable, viable business.

And then in July of 21, I actually purchased the GX marketing, um, from that company. So now it's a hundred percent mine.

Mike Koelzer, Host: When you began it as G R X marketing, you didn't own it all then, and that's where 

Nicolle McClure: correct. 

Yep. You got it. Yep. So it's kind of like an inner lane web thing when you get into the nitty gritty of it. But, um, yeah, so I was fortunate enough over that time too, he really let me grow it and, um, added staff and everything kind of under his wing. Um, and then, yeah, like I said, in 2021, I was [00:27:00] kind of ready to take over it myself.

Um, take that leap. So now it is a hundred percent my company.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Do you still do stuff for the ME cap group?

Yeah. So they're a client of ours that we work with here locally.

Mike Koelzer, Host: You threaten to walk out 

against him? ? I mean, were you like, I'm gone if I don't get this? How did that work out?

Nicolle McClure: Honestly he was, he's always wanted me to take it, I think. And, it was more on my end where I wasn't sure I was ready to kind of take that plunge, and go full in on it. And just where I was personally and professionally, I was like, I'm ready for a new challenge.

And so I just approached him about it and it was very amicable and great and they're clients of ours. And so,

Mike Koelzer, Host: What was your biggest realization once you took it over, once it was yours, whether it's good or bad? What was the biggest realization?

Nicolle McClure: I mean, I think you just watch the numbers [00:28:00] a lot more when it's your money. I mean, not that I didn't before, but, a lot, closer and kind of just more of a pulse on kind of the ebb and flow of losing and gaining clients. I would say too, so we moved offices in March of this year.

We were sharing a space with the previous company. So, now just. being in charge of benefits and 401k and office stuff and making sure there's toilet paper in the bathroom. Little things like that, um, kind of, you don't think about when you take over a business.


Mike Koelzer, Host: I remember in our pharmacy, we went through a big remodeling. Seems like yesterday, but it was years and years ago. And business became easier once you had a place to do it. In other words, we had a small back door, it was hard to get equipment in

 And I think just subconsciously, you [00:29:00] just didn't want to get certain things there cuz you knew it was gonna be a pain in the ass to physically even get around and stuff. And then we got wider doors and a back kind of shipping door and things like that. with you, I bet that was pretty exciting to get your own digs and it kind of even subconsciously built up confidence and power and things like that

Nicolle McClure: oh, for sure. Yeah. I mean, for me, I would say personally the moving of the office space and getting our own space. Felt more impactful or made the whole buying the business thing more real than when I did in July of 21 because we were still at the same office. Um, so yeah, it truly felt like mine when we moved here in March.

And I think my employees, my team feel like that too. they kind of then have their own space as well and kind of came out of their shell a little bit. cuz we've kind of got our own space to, be creative and marketing people are allowed and

4 Mike Koelzer, Host: [00:30:00] Marking 

Nicolle McClure: Yeah, we are. And we like to have fun, it's kind of that work hard, play hard mentality.

 The movies show marketing firms with Nerf basketball hoops, and all that kind of stuff. Like you gotta have the idea stuff, we don't have any of that. But, there's just a lot of brainstorming that goes on throughout the day, so you're in each other's offices and we'll do games and stuff here once in a while. 

Mike Koelzer, Host: We have a game at the pharmacy. It's called Bring In Donuts for Mike.

Nicolle McClure: I should start that 

Mike Koelzer, Host: Yeah. Yeah. How many people are around during the day? Like how many people are in your office?

Nicolle McClure: So there's 12 of us.

Um, yeah, so 

there's me and 11 others. Um,


Mike Koelzer, Host: all employees?

Nicolle McClure: Yes. So, um, I added three this year, um, in 2022. So, yeah. Thank you. So yeah, everybody works here out of the office. We don't do any remote 

work. A few of us will travel throughout the year for conferences or whatnot, but for the most part [00:31:00] we're here, Monday through Friday.

And I think sometimes that might be a little bit of a misconception from our clients. They. that we are either working remotely or, don't talk to each other but we have a lot of interaction with each


Mike Koelzer, Host: Mark my word, put my stamp on this. That's gonna be something that you start telling people eventually. Maybe you already are. Do you tell that to clients?

Nicolle McClure: we do, but maybe not as much as we should. Maybe we're undervaluing the importance of that.

Mike Koelzer, Host: I think that's gonna be a trend. Nicolle, I can see you telling people like we're a 12 person force. you're gonna start hearing things like, whatever the term is on campus or in-house, you're gonna 

start hearing that more, I think, especially with like, let's say your stuff, there's that team atmosphere to it, like you just said, you know, that's of value to people.

I think you can start hearing that more.

Nicolle McClure: Yeah. I could see that. 

Mike Koelzer, Host: you're 

the one that can do it. Let's get it going.

Nicolle McClure: Let's do it. yeah, no, I think that makes a lot of sense because like I said, it's something that we maybe just take for [00:32:00] granted, 

but a lot of people have the same reaction that you did when I tell 'em that there's 12 of us, where I think we're a much bigger outfit than a lot of people realize.

we fly under the radar a little bit. I think, we're not out there maybe, um, as much as some other marketing companies

Mike Koelzer, Host: What kind of stuff do you contract out? 

Nicolle McClure: The only things we contract out are like print jobs that we can't, if we can't do 'em here in house. We work with a clinical pharmacist that's one of our clients for research type things. Um, so we tap into her a little bit, but for the most part it's all done here in house.

like a specialist works with a group of clients and, she's in charge of, he or she's in charge of working with 'em, answering their calls and emails, but also the design work and if printing if needed or the digital stuff. So it's kind of, she's really handling the start to finish.

 Sometimes I like to just. , um, do something, design something. [00:33:00] It's kind of a little therapeutic. You can kind of just zone out and put something together.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Here's the problem with growth is sometimes you grow and you're pushed out of something you might like. All the books talking about, uh, what hat are you wearing and the e-myth, about how to structure everything. And sometimes it's like, look, I understand all that, but I'm gonna spend 1% of my week doing this.

It doesn't make sense. I just like doing it. It's just fun to do because sometimes you get pushed right out What you liked. 

Nicolle McClure: Yeah, I mean, I like doing design. There's definitely other people on my team that are better at it than me, and that's why I pay them too. To do that stuff. My passion has always been helping people. Um, I, and I think that's why I'm in this business and why I bought the marketing company and stuff, because I truly like helping people succeed.

 I like social interaction. I mean, I think this year I have been able to go to some of the conferences and stuff. [00:34:00] Um, just to have that face to face interaction and, questions come up that I think wouldn't come up on a phone call cuz 

you can read body language and things like that.

Mike Koelzer, Host: And you run into somebody that you weren't planning to and for sure.

Nicolle McClure: So I think there's benefits there for that.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Oh yeah. Body language is huge. and this is a step up from a phone call cause we're looking at each other on the screen Right now. But, you know, seeing people, I had one gal, she came on the podcast and in my instructions, I'm clear, I say we're on video. I don't use the video, I just use it. have this interaction, but I don't show the video anywhere.

So she came on and she didn't wanna turn her camera on cuz it was like early in the morning and her hair wasn't done or something like that. So she started being like my therapist. She's like, why do you really need video ? And I said, that's not up for [00:35:00] a discussion. You agreed to do this. You don't come on later and say, why do you need video,

Nicolle McClure: Yeah. I mean, I usually turn the video on for calls. I mean, I think it just helps kind of, like you said, it's a step above just a phone call and, um, at least being able to see each other kind of helps the interaction 

Mike Koelzer, Host: Do you have to slash do you like to. get involved with the new clients? Are you selling to them, or is your team, 

that initial stuff?

Nicolle McClure: I really don't do a lot, the clients like pharmacy owners signing up. Um, I have a couple of employees that work on that kind of responsibility. Um, I tend to do more kinds of things like high level strategic planning or working on partnerships or, um, like corporate type marketing where we help other businesses within the industry do marketing.

I used to sell to pharmacy [00:36:00] owners, but I don't as much anymore. Um, I still go to some of the conferences, um, and speak at them but not as much as I used


Mike Koelzer, Host: Do you like the conferences?

Nicolle McClure: I do. Yeah. Like I said, I mean, I think every conference I've been to, there's always an interaction, a good interaction or meeting that I didn't know was gonna happen or anticipate happening.

And so I think those you never get by like a virtual conference or, just always relying on calls and emails.

you see somebody that you know, or you, somebody sees you that they know somebody you know, so they bring their friend over to your booth and it's just a good way too to check in with our current clients.

And, that's kind of one of our few opportunities to see them face to face. Right. All of our work is done remotely via phone or email with our clients, so to get to meet them in person is pretty valuable.

Mike Koelzer, Host: [00:37:00] What did you mean by helping other 

Nicolle McClure: So we, um, we started getting into, we've probably got about 12 to 15 companies that are within the pharmacy industry, but they're other companies like we are. So they're trying to reach pharmacy owners with their products and services as well. So we're helping them with their marketing. 

Mike Koelzer, Host: These other businesses are you, Selling them your connection so people go through you, and then they end up seeing your people or you're actually teaching them how to market in the real world to these other pharmacies.

Nicolle McClure: Yeah, so we're behind the scenes. Um, we're writing about their social media and we're, I mean, we've done some websites, new websites for companies, um, things like that. We're not really kind of the middle man to help them as far as like being the face to help them get

  2. We're their marketing [00:38:00] company just like we would be for a pharmacy.

Um, but it's just B2B instead of b2c. 

Mike Koelzer, Host: What's the best method for these businesses to reach out to the pharmacies?

Nicolle McClure: Yeah. I mean, I'd say we've had good success with LinkedIn, um, and doing ads and stuff through that. Um, email marketing has been good. We'll do some digital marketing, so SEO campaigns and things like that. if they go to trade shows, we've designed trade show booths and hand out some flyers 

Mike Koelzer, Host: Are these companies more difficult to deal with than pharmacy owners? 

Nicolle McClure: Just difficult in different ways.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Spill the beans. Let's go. Come on.

5 Nicolle McClure: how's that for a PC

answer? Um, no. I think companies, they sometimes don't know what they want, so then we go through a lot of iterations of things, which is a lot of work on our side. And I don't know that, um, companies maybe realize

it's not as easy as making a change on a [00:39:00] website that the public may think it is.

It Could really take hours of work. 

Mike Koelzer, Host: It seems like a pharmacy. They know the kind of method they want for the end user, which would be the customer. They know that they like warmth and trust and happiness and all that kind of stuff. I imagine that the business owners of these dozen, they don't necessarily know what their message should be to the pharmacies and then that probably they keep changing that then.

Nicolle McClure: right? they have a hard time nailing down just one message. Cuz again, what we run into is they wanna be everything to a pharmacy. And it's like, no, just pick one thing to focus on. . 

Mike Koelzer, Host: I've dabbled in emails a few times and I always end up tossing the idea. Same way with the sync program, do you have pharmacies that do the sync program? You know what I'm talking about?

Nicolle McClure: Yeah, like syncing up prescriptions 

Mike Koelzer, Host: Yeah. We suck at that. I think I've 

I tried like three times and I've given up every time.

Same with [00:40:00] email stuff. It's like I've collected, dozen email addresses here and there from people and I never, I think it's the content thing, there's 

not enough to, once in a while, like once every three years or something, you really wish that you could have got out to the masses and when it's not marketing when it's something. Crucial. We can do that through outgoing phone calls now, which we didn't used to have, but with email things, we never seem to have enough content. How are pharmacies, like email marketing and how's that going? For some,

Nicolle McClure: It helps create that stickiness. So even as a customer, if I don't do anything with it, I'm still getting those messages from the pharmacy. As low cost as email marketing is, um, it's a great way to stay in front of your customers or, yeah.

To your point if something happens or like sharing events and, [00:41:00] um, things like that. So,

Mike Koelzer, Host: It's hard in a pharmacy, you can't ask people where they heard about you. Like, if you're an attorney, you can say, how did you end up here today?

Did you see this here, with pharmacy though, you can ask people and they're like, oh, I saw you on tv. It's like, no, you didn't. Cause I haven't been on that station or whatever. people don't even know. It's just that buildup of trust and eventually it, tips in your favor,

Here's a problem with pharmacy, I've been putting business cards that actually say, tell someone about us. I word it differently than that, but it's like, tell someone about this. With medical equipment, word of mouth is a little bit easier because people say, Marge, uh, I see your new cane. It's got nice flowers on it. Are those daffodils where'd you get that? And I got that at the pharmacy, this or that. There's talking points.

But with pharmacy, you don't. Talk about things so much, and if you do, it's usually the negative, you know, I got gout and this, and you don't typically pull your bottle out and say, look what I did and let me 

tell you [00:42:00] about this. It's cliche that people don't talk about good things anyways.

It's normally a complaint, but there's nothing to jog that with word of mouth. So I think if you can jog that word of mouth, that does help.

Nicolle McClure: right. For. 

Mike Koelzer, Host: Do you promote any word of mouth things or you just hope that it comes through the advertising? Are there any tricks of word of mouth?

Nicolle McClure: I mean, we will do like referral programs for yeah, tell your friend about it and you each get $5 off an OTC purchase or something like that. I think it is good, but honestly I think it's just the consistency of marketing. I've always been kind of stumped by that, like, how many conversations are people really having about their blood pressure pills, maybe more than I realize, but.

To me, I think a lot of it is actually coming from different marketing tactics.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Nicolle. someone's listening and they say, I should probably do something to move forward in marketing. [00:43:00] do a little bit more of this. What would you tell somebody for the benefit of their business? What should they be doing, like this day that they're maybe not doing that would give him another push in the marketing direction?

Nicolle McClure: I mean, social media is an easier way, easy way to start, So if you haven't posted to your page in six months or whatever is, try to dedicate time for that. And even if it's just once a week, that's better than nothing or what they were doing before usually. So I think social media is great.

Um, like I said earlier, so many people use it as a research tool. Um, so just to be out there or the other thing I would recommend is, just reach out to your local chamber and see what events you can participate in or, go talk to the other local business owners, and see what you can do for them.

Um, both [00:44:00] of those things are kind of an easy way to, to get your name out there. And low cost, I mean, social media is. , um, chamber memberships aren't that expensive, so,

Mike Koelzer, Host: Next door to our pharmacy. We've had a. Restaurant that's been in and out of business. And finally there's this new business there I probably heard a dozen people that have come in and said, what is that next door? And I give 'em some packed up stories of the best I can explain it. But there, you know, if they would've come to me and said, here's 25 flyers,

you know, there's hundreds of people I'm sure asking around the different businesses and if they would've. Thought about that. And so it makes sense just to go around to your local businesses, and just let 'em know you're there and you're hungry for business.

Nicolle McClure: Absolutely. and I mean, as a fellow local business owner, they're more likely to. Support local businesses usually. So, um, yeah, it doesn't have to be another healthcare related business. I mean, we tell our clients, visit every other business [00:45:00] within your strip center, if you're a part of a strip center and, yeah, just take 'em some coupons or your business cards and ask to do a swap where you'll take some of their information for your pharmacy and, let's help each other out.

Mike Koelzer, Host: At minimum if you gain the business of their employees, Or. You might get 'em to not say something nasty about you. At least maybe they're 

upset because your employees are parking

somewhere that they shouldn't be. At least maybe , they see you and they say, I'm gonna stop talking nasty about that person 

 Nicolle, who should be reaching out to you.

Nicolle McClure: Pharmacy owners, business owners, if you need help with marketing as well, within the industry. We've worked with business owners that are kind of just getting started and need help, guidance, marketing strategy, or those that are, um, up and running, but kind of need a rebrand type thing.

We've got a lot of different experience with working with all different types of. Pharmacy businesses and all of that. So, we're not limited to just retail. We can help with compounding [00:46:00] pharmacies, long-term care 

Mike Koelzer, Host: We always had an accountant that we were their only pharmacy and we were teaching them how to do pharmacy accounting. What the hell do I know about pharmacy accounting? I went to them for that. Just like you're saying that, and so 

with marketing too, if you're getting help with marketing, you can go to somebody who has other pharmacies and is in the business because of your expertise and sharing current information and all that kind of stuff.

Nicolle McClure: Yeah. We can tag teams and, hey, ask our other clients, what are you doing? because we have just over 300 clients nationwide. I mean, we can pull in a. Hey, this client did this and it's successful. Let's try that. Or, and I think our clients appreciate too, we know what a DIR fee is and what a PBM is.

And does that relate to marketing? No, but you don't have to then explain pharmacy to us. we can just hit the ground running with you when you sign up for our services and. , we understand how to write about it and all of that. So 

you're kind of overcoming that initial barrier [00:47:00] 

Mike Koelzer, Host: Nicolle, thanks for being on. I could sit and talk about marketing forever. I think I like talking about marketing cuz then it means I'm not actually working.

I'm just enjoying the process of talking about it. I think that's why I like it. But it's fascinating to see how people think and stuff like that. So cool stuff you're doing. And thanks for all you're doing for the profession.

Nicolle McClure: yeah, thanks for having me on the show. It was fun. And it's great. I could also sit here all day and talk about marketing. It's always fun to talk through it with somebody. So thank you.

Mike Koelzer, Host: All right, Nicolle. Thanks., we'll keep in touch and thanks again for being on.

Nicolle McClure: Yeah. Thank you. Appreciate it.