Gavin Birchall, pharmacist, marketing expert and managing director at DOSE group, tells Rachel Carter how pharmacists can market their business's flu vaccination service

First, it’s key that awareness and uptake of this service are growing. That means we’re not trying to educate people from scratch, which is one of the challenges of marketing pharmacy services.

Most customers and patients now know they can get an NHS flu vaccination each winter from their community pharmacy. Pharmacists should start with standard in-store marketing approaches – leaflets, posters, banners, a stand in a corner of  the pharmacy, or information on  a screen.

You could even have  a badge for staff to wear, and prepare a script to ensure your team members are speaking to relevant patients about the service. If you have a healthy living zone, you could devote space to flu jabs for the appropriate period.

Next, think about other channels you have for reaching out to patients. Put information about the service on your website and edit  the page for search engine optimisation otherwise no-one  will find it. Mention it on social media, as appropriate.

Monitor whether you’re getting footfall and how the approach works in September, October and November. Review, adjust and adapt. Keep a log so that you start the next year with the tactics that worked.

Keep the message simple – don’t complicate. Get across the key message about free vaccinations for eligible patients, and provide more detail for people who want it. For some patients, the initial headline will be enough.