Bellard’s Family Pharmacy is snuggled into the little town of Eunice, LA -- population just over 10,000, but business is booming at this Health Mart store where 3,000-4,000 patients get their prescriptions filled.
To get a peek into the store’s day-to-day, we spoke with Denise McDaniel – head of marketing and Skincare consultant for Bellard’s. “Could you hang on for a second while I run to the back to switch phones? It’s a little busy up here” Denise says. It’s clear that the store is not short on customers.
Denise quickly hops back onto the phone, and we return to the interview. Curious about what has led to the store’s success, we asked her what their social and marketing efforts looked like. “You know I used to work for the LSN paper, then I went back to school for aesthetics where I took several seminars on marketing.” While in school, Denise met and started dating Aurdie, current pharmacist and owner of Bellard’s. “I kept telling him how important marketing was, that it was the only way to keep a small business alive.”
More specifically Denise highlights the social media piece of the marketing puzzle, telling us that is has had a significant impact on their business. If you visit their Facebook page you’ll see that Bellard’s is no stranger to the platform with a whopping 1,183 likes.
Their Instagram presence is strong as well with 277 followers “I have a daughter who graduated in Mass Communication and I was really influenced by her to start using Facebook and Instagram more.” We asked her if she had any customers coming in because of their social media presence, “actually we had a lady come in today looking for first communion merchandise. She saw our Instagram post and knew she could find what she needed at our store.”
Many pharmacists have qualms about spending time on social media, believing their older patients don’t use them. Denise however, is not worried about the demographic diversity “more and more elderly people are getting on Instagram and Facebook to stay in touch with children and family, so I know they are seeing our posts”.
Denise also talks about older patient use of the mobile app, “at first they were a little nervous about using the mobile app, then they got more comfortable with it and got more excited about it”. In order to incentivize customers to download the app, Denise began giving out chocolate bars in exchange – an offer that’s hard to pass up. She says the mobile app has saved the staff so much time and [the staff] love seeing the stack of refill faxes from the night before, sitting in the pharmacy each morning. The staff aren’t the only thankful ones, having the ability to offer patients 24/7 access to refill submission has made patients happy too, “sometimes at night I think, oh my gosh if I don’t refill right now I’m not going to remember, and then I submit at night and it’s there in the morning.”
But it’s not just the marketing aspect that has earned Bellard’s their loyal customer base, it’s their customer service. “It’s more like family here, we know our customers. And our patients have known Aurdie since he was little”. Aurdie really makes helping customers a priority, and it does not go unnoticed.
Towards the end of the call, it becomes pretty clear that Bellard’s digital marketing has allowed them to compete with the big box chains that are nearby, including Walmart and Fred’s. “We don’t have a CVS or Walgreens yet, thank God”, but we’re confident that if they did, this family pharmacy would have no problem taking them on too.
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