Your business, whether pharmacy which is our focus, or any other form of business is an intention craft. Or at least that is how we are going to look at it for the next few minutes.
The term and indeed the idea of an ‘intention craft’ was conceived of by Philip Pullman in his book The Amber Spyglass, one of the His Dark Materials series. A great series and an amazing idea. We won’t dwell except to say that the craft was largely ‘driven’ by the thoughts of the person sitting inside it. There were as I recall a couple of levers which helped but I’m sure they were just for dramatic effect rather than a necessity.
As business owners and managers we know that pulling the right levers at the right time is important and we all have them to pull whatever our role. However the intention comes before the action and that is what we are interested in here.
Have a think about your intention as a business. If you like, you can call it a purpose or essence but don’t get hung up on the word. It’s why the business exists and what you intend as a result of its existence. It’s not something that often crosses our minds while in the midst of actually pulling the levers. Do you know what the intention is? Is there one defined? Did you have a vague idea in your mind when you set up the business, which has somehow drifted?
There may be more than one intention because ‘to make some money’ will no doubt have crossed your mind but that is subservient to a customer focused intention. You can serve customers without making money but you can’t make money without serving customers so they come first and you should frame your intention within that context.
If your business has been around a while you may need to look backwards to explore its heritage, another buzzword, which may provide you with some clues as to the intention. Why was the business set up in the first place? What was the guiding intent?
If you can’t find any meaningful answers there you might want to look around you or even towards the future to identify a customer focused intention. What human need are you meeting? How are you making the world a better place?
Important to note that if you have realty tried and you are still struggling to nail down your intention then whatever you do – don’t make it up! Much better to tell your customers the truth i.e. position your business on the basis that you make/supply this great product as well as you can and it can help them with whatever it does. They’ll appreciate the honesty and they will spot it if you invent an artifice.
Now think about your marketing and how closely the messages you communicate actually get across your intention. Take a look at all of your communications throughout the customer journey and compare them with your intention. Any discrepancies?
It doesn’t stop there though. Oh no. This is a mistake made by many in even the biggest companies. In the rush to hit targets and in the relentless pursuit of growth people can at times forget their intention and ‘bend’ the truth. As marketers of our businesses we have an ethical responsibility to our customers as well as a commercial responsibility to ourselves to use methods and approaches that do not exaggerate or deceive. In pharmacy that is all the more important because we literally have people’s lives in our hands.
Is it me or is the ability to trust people and organisations around us becoming ever more important and is that trust not one of the most important assets a business can have? I think so, hence the rise of Trust Pilot and Review etc. We are losing many of the opportunities we have to assess how trustworthy the people we buy things off are because we can’t use the face to face skills we have perfected over thousands of years. Screens are not as good as faces.
Use services like Trust Pilot, it will help as long as Trust Pilot protect their brand with everything they have, but explore how your marketing messages are reaching your customers and decide whether that aligns with your intention or does the opposite. Many communications channels are so complex that you may struggle to understand whether this is actually the case or not. In that instance ask your marketing team or agency the questions. Dig in and find out. Root out less transparent marketing techniques and clean up your act.
The best way to demonstrate your intention is by living by it.
The best way to win trust is to be trustworthy.