Firm Helps Pharmacies Use Social Media for Marketing
Michael Busch thought he would retire to Pinehurst and play a little golf, a little bridge and do a little consulting.
“I got bored,” says Busch, 74, a pharmacist who created and sold two pharmacy-related businesses between 1970 and 2005.
So Busch came out of retirement to help launch Keep Your Pharmacy Open Inc. (KYPO), a Texas-based company that has developed a turnkey social media marketing program for independent pharmacists.
“When this idea came up, I tackled it like I’ve tackled every other business opportunity,” Busch says. “I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire life. I came out of retirement a year ago because social media is all the rage. Everybody is doing it.”
KYPO went live earlier this month in 18 stores in seven states, including Health Innovations Phar-macy on Pinehurst Avenue in Southern Pines.
“Everything seems to be headed that way,” says Tim Clark, who owns Health Innovations. “You have to have a social media presence to get your name out. We’re going to test it through February. I’m interested to see how it works out.”
Clark is like the majority of pharmacists across the country who don’t have enough time during the day to devote to social media.
“We already have a Facebook page, but we go three or four weeks between postings because it’s up to me,” he says. “I’m lucky if I have the time to sit down for lunch during the day.”
The KYPO program is designed to enable pharmacists to reach today’s social media-savvy consumer, while managing their bricks-and-mortar store and serving their in-store customers.
“I try to know all of my customers by name,” Clark says. “You can’t always do it, but you’ve got to try. We pride ourselves on service. We also just finished renovating our store in May, and hopefully this program will help us attract new customers.”
Busch and his partner, Suzanne Gude, of Dallas, hired “the very best” technology companies in the country to develop the KYPO software platform.
“We’re a marketing company,” Busch says. “We’re not technologists. Social media requires a lot of knowledge, skill and time — all of which pharmacists don’t have. In essence, we’ve got a turnkey program that does it for them.
“I wanted it to be turnkey because I didn’t want my success to be determined by how the pharmacists worked the program.”
Gude, whose father is a well-known pharmacist, met Busch through him.
“The impetus came through seeing independent pharmacists struggle in this economy, so I wanted to start a ‘shop local’ campaign for them,” says Gude, who also works with Busch through SHB Consultants. “If we’re really going to turn around this economy and create jobs, we need to shop at our locally owned pharmacy and other locally owned businesses.
“Independent pharmacists typically fill more prescriptions with less staff and better customer service than chains.”
Busch and Gude developed a business plan, then raised $750,000 in startup capital to get the ball rolling.
“It’s really starting to take off and get going,” Gude says.
The KYPO program en-ables a pharmacy to, among other things:
n Craft its Facebook page.
n Initiate its Twitter page.
n Develop topics that are posted to the Facebook and Twitter pages after pharmacist approval.
n Include videos and a store locator.
n Link to its current website.
n Provide analytics that are meaningful to the store’s reach or target market.
n Implement a public relations campaign.
Busch has always had a soft spot in his heart for helping independent pharmacists. In the late 1960s, he sensed the trend in business consolidation that would severely alter the corporate landscape in the ensuing decades.
Busch was especially concerned about what he believed was an accelerating decline in the pharmacist-customer relationship, so he established Medicine Shoppe International in 1970. His goal was to extend franchise-ownership opportunities to similarly customer-friendly, entrepreneurial pharmacists and independent investors.
“We had retail pharmacies in every state and six countries when we sold the company in 1995 to Cardinal Health for $360 million,” Busch says. “I also founded a software company that monitored third-party reimbursements to independent pharmacies and small chains. We sold that in 2005, also to Cardinal Health.”
Busch and his wife, Sharon, moved to Pinewild from their downtown Chicago condominium in 2005.
“We came down here a week after the U.S. Open on a lark,” he says. “We closed on our house less than a week later. I used to play golf three or four days a week, but I don’t have hobbies other than bridge and reading now.
“This new business opportunity has restored my energy and excitement. I can’t be retired.”
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More like this story