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Who Are You?
Julia Bickerstaff
Want to deliver better value to your customers? Start by getting clear about who YOU are and what YOU stand for, says Julia Bickerstaff.

Want to deliver better value to your customers? Start by getting clear about who YOU are and what YOU stand for, says Julia Bickerstaff.

So what can you do to deliver better value? How can you make your customers’ healthier? Should you be broadening your product range? Providing new services? Extending your opening hours? Partnering with other healthcare professionals?

Whether you’re racking your brain for ideas or deliberating between many options, you’ll make better decisions when you frame your thinking around why you are in business and what you stand for.

Who Are You?


Let's think about why you're in business. Why does your pharmacy business need to exist? What purpose does it fulfil? These are big questions. And ones few of us think about daily. But understanding your ‘why’ provides your business with good direction. So what's the purpose of your business? Can you write it down?

Answering these questions first might help:

• Why do you have such passion for pharmacy?
• What contributions are you making to wider society and your local community?
• What do you want to accomplish?
• Why do customers and patients leave you happier and healthier than before they found you?
• Why did you become a pharmacist?
• If your pharmacy didn't exist, what would your community be lacking?
• If you weren’t there, what would your customers and patients miss?
• Why do your regular customers and patients come to you?
• How are you enriching your customers’ and patients’ lives?


How did you go? Do you need a little more help? I hesitate to give examples from other businesses in case it constrains your imagination, but sometimes it’s useful to get a flavour of what a WHY looks like, so here goes:

• A local GP: Caring for our community one person at a time.
• An education organisation: Creating the conditions to help a person to grow.
• An elderly care organisation: Help elderly people become self-sufficient and to keep attached to family and friends.
• A diagnostic company: Help doctors and nurses save time so they can serve more patients every day.

And for more inspiration, here’s a funny one from a supermarket: “Make food shopping a joy, not a chore!”

These examples have been word-smithed, but you don’t need to do that. Your WHY isn’t a branding statement, it’s an internal signpost - so articulate it in the language you use daily in your business.


Who Are You?

Now that you’ve found your WHY, the next step is to find something Usefully Different to stand for. Useful Differences can be tricky to identify, so stay patient and keep rolling ideas around your mind. In particular, focus on ideas that:

• fit your WHY
• use your skills
• aren’t currently being done by others in your area
• are useful to your customers and patients
• will ensure your customers and patients leave you happier and healthier than before they found you

And think about opportunities such as:

• specialising in a particular demographic or health concern
• offering a unique technology or process that addresses an unmet need
• employing staff that all have a particular skill (e.g. a second language)
• being an expert in a particular field
• providing information not found elsewhere
• offering unique relationships or partnerships with other health care providers
• providing a distinctive level of customer service

Try to make your Useful Differences as specific as possible, avoiding vague phrases such as ‘quality’, ‘value’ and ‘service’. For example, if one of your Useful Differences is about customer service, put some detail around what it actually means.

3 Tips to being Usefully Different:
1. The “Usefully” in this phrase is key. When you’re finding it hard to stand out from other pharmacies and attract customers, or confused about which additional services and products you should be providing, it’s tempting to launch yourself at anything that’s different. But that really doesn’t work. Customers perceive benefits only when your ‘different’ is useful to them and congruent with what they already love about you.
2. I recommend you find not one but three ways to be Usefully Different! While that might sound like a big ask, it’s worth it. When you have just one difference, it’s much easier for your customers and patients to notice you.
3. Your Useful Differences should be factors that are easy for your customer to understand but are tough for you to deliver. Why? Because if it’s not difficult enough, everyone would be doing it!


In the quest to provide better value for customers, questions such as “How should we broaden our product range?” and “What new services should we provide?” are always more appropriately and creatively answered when asked in the context of “Why are we in business?” and “What do we stand for?”

Fancy giving it a try?!