Campaigning against setbacks in drug discounts isn’t usually a big deal for small businesses in other industries.
However, SPAR (Small Business Pharmacies Aligned for Reform), a recently Florida-based small business pharmacy advocacy group, offers a glimpse of how small, challenging businesses can fight back and win against much larger and more powerful companies.
SPAR was founded as a result of an executive order from the Trump administration to prevent prescription drug makers and Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) from suffering setbacks on drug discounts. Essentially, PBMs who work with health insurers negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to get a portion of a drug’s list price every time a drug is dispensed. These “rebates” that the PBMs receive are included in the cost of the final cost of a drug to the patient, resulting in sharp price increases for consumers and patients.
When PBMs and pharmaceutical companies launched heavily funded lobbying campaigns against this new rule, organizations like SPAR stepped up consumer protection.
This is where small businesses, underdogs, and other challenger brands can learn how SPAR has positioned itself to succeed.
Start with passion
SPAR was founded by Kevin Duane, a Jacksonville, Florida pharmacist and independent pharmacy owner who also runs a number of voluntary medical clinics for underserved communities.
Duane and other Florida independent pharmacy owners were frustrated that his Medicare patients were spending more money while reporting less on their medication. They formed an organization that focused on educating citizens and advocating for their members across the state.
Bring away: A strong mission and passion for that mission are critical when your company is a challenger or a newcomer to an industry. Without this passion, the battle against the important fights becomes exhausting and difficult.
Focus on the legal profession
SPAR used an extensive advocacy campaign to raise the voices of small business pharmacists in the fight against the PBM machine.
When an investigative article about the PBM system was published in the Tampa Bay Times, SPAR took advantage of this news, which led SPAR to endeavor to keep prescription drug prices affordable and to ensure more transparency in the drug pricing system.
Bring away: Investing in digital PR pays off. By partnering with a digital PR agency and running a solid campaign, you can amplify your message and reach a much wider audience.
Let your customers know why they should choose you
The problem SPAR is addressing is complex and removed from most people’s daily lives – although health insurance and drug prices affect everyone in the US.
Through an extensive educational effort with consumers and elected officials, SPAR was able to show exactly why their mission was important. That brought them success in the state parliament.
Bring away: Your brand may not be trying to influence legislation. However, if you are new to an industry or small business, you need to show your customers why they should choose you over other brands they are already using. This is where messaging and content marketing are so important. By delivering content to customers in every state of the buying journey, you can be sure that you will reach them with the right information at the right time.
Small businesses and challenger brands have great opportunities to demonstrate their value and gain market share if they use this challenger status wisely. This is true whether you’re protecting low-income patients or building the latest lifestyle app.