Cannabis legalization is slowly making its rounds across the country.
More and more businesses are becoming involved in the cannabis industry, and, as with any business, marketing is a key component to operating successfully in this competitive market.
But because cannabis is such a new and regulated industry, marketing a cannabis business can be complicated, but not impossible.
Here, you’ll find a compilation of the first steps you’ll need to consider when starting a cannabis marketing strategy now that your state is legal. Congratulations, by the way. Welcome to the good side.
One of the first steps is to validate and know the laws and regulations at the local, state, and federal levels. They can vary significantly from one to the other, and the last thing you want to do is break the law.
Launching a brand in an industry as regulated as cannabis can be daunting. Still, with a thorough understanding of the regulations and a clear vision for the brand, cannabis companies can successfully bring their brands to market.
Local regulatory compliance poses a considerable marketing challenge in legal cannabis markets, especially as regulations change considerably from place to place.
Knowing how you can and cannot market your business is critical because fines for non-compliance can be steep and put your business at risk.
Major social networks consider some types of advertising to be off-limits. And you guessed it, that includes cannabis.
Embarking on this project on your own can be challenging, so considering hiring a cannabis marketing expert who knows all the rules and can help you come up with a detailed marketing plan is ideal.
Companies in the cannabis industry continue to have opportunities to raise awareness of their products through social media, but this presents its own challenges. However, when it comes to digital marketing, social media can offer you the most effective and direct way to connect with your audience.
A strong digital presence could make all the difference for a cannabis business.
To have a digital presence, it’s critical to do a cannabis marketing strategy with SEO in mind. This is cannabis-focused search engine optimization.
It’s important that your business name and relevant searches rank high, and since paid advertising is a bit out of bounds for cannabis, you need a strong, organic strategy.
Having an authoritative website, supported by backlinks and with quality content, is the key for search engines to take your site into account and show it in the first place.
Keyword research can be tricky for cannabis businesses, as there is a long list of words and phrases that fall into the “prohibited content” category.
In cannabis SEO, you should also consider local SEO and technical SEO. They can help cannabis businesses grow organically and become known.
Additionally, having a Google My Business profile and appearing in the Google local package will be of great help. Learn more about that here.
To make a successful marketing plan, one of the first steps is to define the target market. Who are you talking to when offering your product? Who is your product aimed at? Who do you want to reach with your product or service?
When it comes to cannabis, the target audiences are many, and each has its own characteristics:
Determining the target audience will be very useful in specifying the best way to market your products or services, as well as defining the keywords with which you can easily reach that audience.
Good questions to start with are:
The answers to these and similar questions will help you plan how to reach your target markets.
As with any business, developing a strong brand identity is essential for cannabis businesses.
If you are different, you are more likely to be liked. The market is crowded with cannabis businesses with hundreds of similar options, so standing out is key.
And there are many ways to stand out, from the feel of the brand to the packaging to the way you advertise it. Your brand should reflect your company’s values and be consistent in all of your marketing materials.
Providing quality content is essential to attract audiences to your website who will potentially become customers. Consider the following:
Invest In Your Website: Your website should be mobile-friendly, which is where most people look for things nowadays. It should also include a menu, quality images, offers, locations, available products, frequently asked questions, and, if possible, an informative blog where you can answer questions that any consumer, beginner or advanced, can ask.
Call-To-Action: The call to action within the same web page is quite useful for collecting relevant data from your customers or potential customers. For example, offer discounts or information of interest in exchange for users giving their email or cell phone. With this, you can employ other marketing tactics such as email marketing or SMS.
Useful & Relevant Content: Specific keywords play a key role. Think and write as your target audience would. It’s also important to provide useful and educational information for your community that will encourage them to get in touch with your website.
Get Listed In Directories: It’s essential to make your business as easy to find as possible. Encourage customer reviews on popular platforms. Reviews are important.
Forget the major digital advertising platforms when buying cannabis ad placements. An alternative option is to contact publications directly to get ad space.
Many of these cannabis industry publications are very open to allowing companies to approach them and negotiate advertising rates on a CPM (cost per thousand views) or CPC (cost per click) basis.
Negotiating advertising deals, working with individual publishers, or using one of these cannabis-friendly advertising platforms can be a great alternative to the big networks and a way to get the word out about your cannabis business.
Digital marketing strategies for cannabis businesses rely primarily on creativity. But the options are many, such as:
Cannabis Industry Conventions & Events: Cannabis conventions, trade shows, and other industry events are the ideal place to network and raise awareness of your brand. Participating in these conventions can be done in many ways, such as hiring a booth to promote your brand and reach new customers or going as a speaker exhibitor if you have enough experience in the area.
Word-Of-Mouth Marketing: For this, having influencers and brand ambassadors that match the voice of the brand is important and a good alternative to reach more people. Making the brand human and having customers identify with it will make all the difference for the cannabis business.
Print Ads: Print ads can be placed in magazines, newspapers, or other publications that your target market is likely to read.
Radio/Youtube Ads: One of the ways cannabis marketing can reach potential customers is through radio or youtube ads. Voice ads allow cannabis businesses to target a wide range of listeners with their message.
Email Campaigns: Use email to reach your potential customers by sending them targeted content that addresses their needs and interests.
Billboards: If your state and locality allow it, using billboards to reach potential customers is a great strategy.
As you can see, there are many different types of cannabis marketing that can be used to reach potential customers, and here are just a few examples. As we already mentioned, creativity is key to cannabis marketing.
Getting started will always be the hardest part, but having a comprehensive cannabis marketing strategy that is in line with your brand identity will be the best way to reach your target audience and promote your products or services in the most effective way possible.
As a final tip, don’t forget to be in compliance with local, state, and federal laws, as well as the sites on which you advertise your brand.