The cannabis sector is constantly growing. More and more people know the benefits of the plant and want to have products derived from it.
For this reason, many companies in cannabis are looking for ways to stand out from the crowd of similar companies, avoiding the obstacles that legality and advertising restrictions imply for the weed industry.
In the cannabis space, change is the only constant thing, and to stay on top, you must be up to date. In addition, you must consider that each product must be marketed differently depending on where you intend to market it. Cannabis marketing is a whole universe.
Building a digital marketing strategy for cannabis businesses can be confusing and frustrating. Cannabis advertising is not as easy as in any other industry; it has many restrictions and limitations that must be considered in order to advertise products.
These restrictions and limitations are due to the fact that cannabis is still an illegal drug at the federal level, although many states have placed looser regulations on its use.
Even in states where cannabis is legal for medicinal and recreational use, advertising can be challenging.
The federal government still classifies cannabis as a “Schedule I” drug, so advertising your products directly, whether CBD or THC, is quite complicated.
As a result, national media outlets are very coy about advertising cannabis to avoid run-ins with federal regulators. Each legal market has unique guidelines for cannabis ads, and keeping up, at the very least, is confusing.
Now, even social media is limiting or banning content that sells cannabis or promotes its use, and ads on popular search engines like Google reject any cannabis-related keywords. But don’t worry. Not all is lost.
The main alternative today for cannabis product advertising on social media is for cannabis companies to promote their business through organic content. But beware, they cannot create posts that deliberately encourage people to buy their products.
Although most platforms do not allow cannabis advertising, this is what some social networks do allow in terms of marketing CBD vs. THC.
Snapchat: It has a restricted policy but is laxer; it allows sharing content about hemp-derived CBD products. Advertising hemp-derived CBD products is allowed as long as the ad does not contain THC products and is directed to users over 18 years old.
Twitter: Like Snapchat, the line is drawn on CBD products, but in this case, it limits it to topicals exclusively. It is important to note that the above is specific to the United States. Cannabis ads are already approved in Canada on Twitter.
TikTok: Cannabis ads or content are restricted on the app, but topical CBD related is allowed and sometimes hemp related.
Meta: Facebook and Instagram advertising, in general, prohibits cannabis, topical CBD, ingestible hemp, and CBD products. However, Meta does allow ads that promote non-edible products, such as topical hemp oil.
These are just some of the current restrictions on the most-used social networks, but remember that limitations also depend on your state’s laws and the product you wish to market.
Advertising cannabis products, in general, can be quite complicated but not impossible.
When it comes to CBD, the regulations are usually more permissive, and you have a wider range of action. This can serve as a hook to invite potential consumers to know your brand and show the other products with different cannabinoids.
As in any marketing strategy, SEO plays a fundamental role, and the promotion of CBD products is not far behind.
To work with the SEO of CBD, you must consider the general prohibitions of cannabis, as well as the keywords that should be used to achieve greater engagement without violating the regulations of each social network or search engine.
Making publications means you should take into account the niche market to which the brand is targeting and the specific product. This will determine the keywords that should be used and will be relatively easier to segment the market in your favor.
Although CBD SEO is a bit laxer, it does not mean there are no regulations and legal issues that must be met, so check them out before diving into the topic.
CBD has fewer restrictions at the federal level, and taking advantage of this can be very useful for promoting your cannabis brand.
Creating ads that focus only on your CBD products can help get traffic to your site without the restrictions that come with traditional cannabis advertising. Use it to your advantage!
Keep in mind the restrictions of each social network, but as you saw above, social networks usually allow -to a certain extent- you to talk about CBD with relative freedom.
As basic rules, you can follow these recommendations:
At this point, you should already know the importance of good packaging for the promotion of your cannabis products.
It is fundamental that the whole brand is in sync with the voice of your values. You can show this through your packaging and how you present your products to the world.
Again, here comes the issue of restrictions. You must consider certain points when presenting your cannabis products, like legal information. Above all, never make promises about the products.
In general, free-form marketing of THC products is quite complicated and not as easy as you might think, even in states where this cannabinoid is consumed.
THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis, is highly regulated throughout the country. So advertising it directly is tricky, to say the least.
But don’t panic; there are ways to do it!
Use keywords to your advantage. Perhaps at this point, it is better to have a specialized marketing team, as things can be quite difficult.
Advertising on cannabis-focused sites can make all the difference. Focusing your brand on advertising on cannabis-focused sites, blogs and people is a great way to get noticed by your target audience.
Programmatic targeting makes it easy for your ads to comply with local regulations while effectively locating cannabis users across the web.
Virtual directories such as Yelp, Google Maps, and others are also helpful when advertising cannot be direct. Take advantage of THC SEO by using keywords to appear organically at the top of these directories.
Finally, THC SEO can also be employed in the creation of quality content, which will eventually drive people to your website and convert them into leads.
Creating branded items or wearables and advertising them instead of your main product (as long as the items are compatible with the platform) is a great alternative for the direct advertising of THC’s product.
As we’ve said before, focus your advertising on CBD, and customers will come for more. If you can advertise CBD products to raise awareness of your brand, customers who engage with you will be able to discover the rest of your cannabis-related products on their own.
Generally, paying for social media advertising has the advantage of targeting specific segments of customers who may already be interested, but cannabis advertising is almost always banned by all social networks, with some exceptions to CBD ads, so focus on what is allowed and leverage it to your advantage.
In general, CBD has fewer restrictions at the federal level than THC, so take advantage of this to get the attention of customers, and once they are on your page or site, tell them about your other products.
Even if you can include marketing emails in your cannabis marketing strategy, it’s ideal that you take advantage of this to advertise your THC products. Remember that it’s a very controlled substance, so you have to be more creative with the means through which you share information about them.
Another useful tip is to focus the social media marketing strategy on the brand and not on the THC product as such. This can be useful for cannabis brands to focus on what differentiates their brand and makes it unique, generating a bond with potential customers.
Try content that focuses on your company’s culture or values without mentioning cannabis or your products. This approach can help circumvent local regulations and create brand advocates.
Yes, we are going to talk about regulations again. In the end, they are the ones that limit and guide the actions of a brand when it comes to advertising its products.
But there are several alternatives, such as having an organized virtual catalog and having valuable and quality content to promote organically on social networks.
Another option to advertise your products is through billboards, but you will have to consult the local government and the company that owns the billboard to clarify their requirements and compliance policies.
A lifeline to THC advertising could be text message marketing. Unlike most commonly used advertising mediums, text message marketing is cannabis-friendly and allows you to send out an ad campaign without worrying about getting it flagged or taken down.
The only restriction is to ensure your audience is over the age of 21 or 18 with a medical card. This is easy since they can’t get on your list without buying products.
In addition, these messages are sent to customers who have already shown purchase intent, making them much more likely to be influenced by the ad.
Marketing cannabis products, in general, is complicated, and specifically, THC products seem like a titanic task. But there are options. The best one will always be to count on a specialized team that will become your ally. It is the option that will give you more peace of mind and avoid problems.
But if you are more of a do-it-yourself type of person, there are options such as text message marketing, sometimes emailing, and SEO targeting that will allow you to achieve your goals to some extent.
Taking advantage of favorable CBD legislation and looser restrictions on advertising can be the gateway for potential customers to learn about your business and become interested in different products.
Regarding cannabis marketing, the key is to invent new spaces for cannabis ads – creativity is everything. And while prohibitions and regulations make the task a bit more complicated, it will always be possible to find a way out.
With a little creativity – and a good team of experts – there are sure to be many more clever ways to get your brand out there without running afoul of the law.