By Jen Johnston, CHHC , senior marketing services account manager
Want to “online-proof” your independent pharmacy? Take some advice from Ben McNabb, pharmacist and owner of Love Oak Pharmacy. From the store name to the marketing to the items on the shelves – there could not be a more thoughtful, intentional approach to growing a business.
This is the story of a young man from a town of 5,000 that went to work at the Eastland Drug Company as the delivery driver when he was only 16. Inspired by how his mentor, Dale Squiers, used his position as a pharmacy owner to be generous and loving to those in the community, Ben decided to go to pharmacy school with the intention of someday having his own platform with which to help people – an independent pharmacy.
McNabb studied at The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy and it was there he met his future wife, Heather, also a pharmacist. After graduating in 2012, Ben got married and returned to work at Eastland Drug Company as a pharmacist, purchasing the business in 2015 along with two other businesses in the same building – a gift shop called The Gold Lantern and a café called Francie’s Fountain & Deli.
While the Eastland Drug Company had been a fixture in the community since 1929, the McNabbs knew that if they wanted to grow and “online-proof” their business, they needed to rebrand. Eastland Drug Company was an old-fashioned and very geographically-specific name that would limit them if they wanted to expand to the surrounding areas. It was also not conducive to some of the additions they were considering, such as frozen yogurt. They needed something more cutting edge that was going to connect with the next generation of shoppers – something that would bring all three businesses together under one banner.
They also wanted to build an emotional connection to the brand to impact decision-making in more than a logical way, particularly with women who, as we know, are the driving decision-makers for healthcare purchases. The McNabbs have figured out how key a brand’s story is for capturing customers and building loyalty, not only for consumer packaged goods manufacturers but for the retailer themselves. You can read the sweet story of how they came upon the name Love Oak Pharmacy here.
By renaming Eastland Drug Company, the McNabbs demonstrated their desire to have a personal connection with their customers. Ben said, “We care about our community. We have a deep personal connection with it. We feel our Love Oak brand expresses our personality, and our desire to love, serve, and care for our neighbors.”
But the name is only the beginning. As I said, everything they have done with the business has been intentional. In my next post I will describe their competitors and how their in-store experience, unique events, and marketing efforts help them keep a step ahead.