Cannabis is a psychoactive plant native to Central and South Asia, used extensively for recreational and medicinal purposes worldwide. Thanks to decriminalization and awareness, the stigma associated with cannabis is on the decline. Now, it is time for the global cannabis industry to bloom into a multi-billion dollar one. And with an effective cannabis marketing strategy, it is possible to achieve success in the cannabis business.
This article is going to discuss the strategies that should be incorporated to increase cannabis awareness, maximize sales, and boost the brand values of the companies involved in the industry.
Focus on SEO
Improving website traffic via Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a key strategy employed by all businesses operating digitally. It is pretty obvious that people are going to look at Google to search for the best cannabis retailers, whether local or digital. A strong digital presence will surely help cannabis retailers connect with their target audience.
However, finding keywords for your Cannabis SEO optimized content can be a bit tricky since Google Keyword Planner considers it ‘prohibited content’. You can sort this issue by researching search trends to find out relevant keywords.
The main cannabis marketing plan is to create a website featuring useful content and targeted keywords to drive organic traffic to your website from search engines. The higher your website ranks on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), the more visitors it will get.
Benefits of employing SEO strategy:
- To drive organic traffic toward your website.
- Incorporating popular keywords in your content can move up your website on SERP.
A Catchy Website That Serves as Your Online Store
According to Forbes, a website is a must-need tool for every online small business to succeed. Even if you’re trying to start a cannabis dispensary operating locally, having a well-presentable website that acts as your online store will give you the upper hand. There are multiple layers to designing a website, and you should get your priorities straight.
Research and More Research
Before you launch your website, you should go through the latest web design trends in the market. It may not always suit your needs, but you should always keep them in mind for required optimization. For example, chatbot support is a good arsenal for eCommerce sites to drive their businesses forward.
Choose Your Website Builder
Website Builders, also known as Content Management Systems, are good options for people without prior coding knowledge to create and design their online marketing platform. Although you need an investment to access the premium features to scale your website, they are good value for money. Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly are popular website builders you can resort to.
Settling on a Domain Name
You can always customize your domain name, provided it is available. Your domain name should be simple, memorable, professional, and evocative.
Theme / Layout
An eye-catching theme serves the aesthetic purpose, but making your website user-friendly is equally essential. Your website should also be mobile-compatible. A live menu to direct your clients to all your products/services, contact information, support, etc., are some must-need features for your website.
It is vital to have a unique and eye-catching brand name and logo for your company. Striking imagery, fonts, and color schemes can be incorporated depending on the psychology of your target audience. For example, a brand logo or a website that is green in color can be used for cannabis marketing purposes.
Next comes content creation to keep your website functional. Starting from a homepage featuring your unique products, offers, etc. to including blog posts and customer reviews, to regularly updating your website with the latest features, content creation can play wonders in increasing the reach of your website.
Publish and Analyze
The last step includes publishing your website. Cross-check that it is free from bugs or other issues. The task of creating a website may be over, but constant monitoring is required to improve it. Using proper analytical tools, you can check out aspects like page views, time spent, total sales, and conversion rate.
Benefits of creating a website:
- A website acts as a medium for retailing cannabis products online.
- Brand name and logo that is innovative and unique to your cannabis company.
- Establishing brand value, digital presence, and authority.
Keep an Eye on Competitors and Customer Demands
You’re done with an online website that serves your general purpose. However, scaling your business is going to require efficient market analysis. For example, you can start with surveys among the cannabis users of your desired location, which include demographic information, buying behaviors, factors like preferred prices or strains, and brand awareness. This can serve as an opportunity to get in touch with your potential customers later on. Market research is one of those fundamental marijuana marketing strategies that will bear fruit in the long run.
If you’re planning to do your research, keep track of your competitors as well. Identify your biggest competitors of similar scale, and analyze their products, customer reviews, marketing strategies, etc. If they are performing better than your business, try to gather ideas from them for your improvement. Accepting your shortcomings and taking inspiration from better-performing businesses is an effective way to boost your business.
Benefits of market and competitor analysis:
- Market analysis is the only way to know user behaviors and demands.
- Competitor analysis to get an idea about the industry.
- You can also collaborate with bigger brands for your promotion.
- Upgrading your website based on user requirements or improved business tools employed by your competitors.
Go All out Using Social Media
Utilizing social media for advertising cannabis brands can be a bit tricky since most social media platforms have policies that restrict cannabis marketing. However, you can do it in a more subtle way to evade the restrictions and yet reach your target audience. Refrain from using words like ‘cannabis’, ‘marijuana’, or anything that makes your business apparent.
There is a possibility that your cannabis marketing campaign through social media won’t be massive, but you can always reach your cult of cannabis enthusiasts privately. Twitter and LinkedIn seem to be more viable platforms for cannabis marketing than Instagram and Facebook.
Affiliate Marketing Through Influencers as a Mode of Marketing
Since social media has strict policies with paid advertisements for cannabis products, include affiliate marketing via digital influencers in your plans. Affiliate marketers promote your product for a fee.
Such influencers, with a decent cult fan following, can help you to reach your target cannabis users. As per reports, affiliate marketing has a significant return on investment and can generate profit for your company for a long time.
You can contact cannabis-promoting influencers from their channels on YouTube, Instagram, or Twitter. Get an idea about their reach and overall popularity in the cannabis world and collaborate with one of them who fits your requirements. In exchange for your products, cannabis influencers often try out and review them for free.
Benefits of having influencer marketing:
- Affiliate marketing has a great ROI.
- Cannabis influencers with a decent fan following can help your product reach the target audience.
Billboard Advertising for Local Promotion
Advertising through billboards sustains the cannabis industry in the legal states since digital marketing is highly restricted. Billboards can be a great option to make people aware of your company, online or offline.
However, it works better for improving the foot traffic to local in-store cannabis dispensaries. Marketing for dispensaries locally has never been easier, thanks to the use of billboards for cannabis promotions.
A simple yet efficient cannabis marketing strategy, billboards do have certain restrictions. For example, billboards promoting cannabis ads in California should be at least 1,000 feet away from a school.
Benefits of billboards:
- An efficient analog approach to marketing your brand locally.
- Billboards drive the in-foot traffic to local dispensaries.
Targeted Advertising by Paid Platform
With all the restrictions on social media platforms regarding marijuana marketing, it is better to rely on native digital advertising platforms. These are paid platforms that advertise your products on cost-per-thousand views (CPM) or cost-per-click (CPC) basis. Cannabis marketing strategy through display ads effectively finds the niche audience required for your business, i.e., cannabis enthusiasts.
These ad networks are completely secure and have a great return on investment. All services are hosted within a proprietary DSP, which means your brand can be publicized without worrying about policy violations and restrictions.
They also incorporate geo-fencing and geo-targeting technologies to tap potential customers for your service via static banners, GIF ads, and video ads. Paired with SMS or email marketing, utilizing a native ad network is a brilliant way to boost your sales locally.
- Geo-targeting technology to cherry-pick people based on your products.
- Works well at a specific geographic region (intra-state).
- Featuring static banners, GIFs, and video advertisements on websites related to lifestyle.
Write Blogs to Publicize Your Company
A more direct method without utilizing targeted ad tools for marijuana marketing is collaborating with magazines and news outlets dedicated to marijuana. For example, High Times is a magazine in the US advocating cannabis legalization and awareness, which was issued for the first time in 1974. Other names like Marijuana Business Daily, Leafly, and Weedmaps are trusted sites/magazines for promoting your business products. These websites feature the latest updates in the cannabis industry as well as blogs that increase awareness among the citizens.
You can reach out to these platforms to secure ad space and drive your business forward. However, sites like Leafly and Weedmaps are aimed at guiding cannabis users to the nearest dispensary location, so there is a chance for your business to feature in them if you’re planning to open a dispensary.
Benefits of featuring in magazines and news outlets:
- Your company becomes familiar among cannabis users.
- Cannabis enthusiasts trust reputed cannabis-promoting websites or media outlets all over the country.
Announce Your Latest Products Using Email and SMS
Email marketing is a must-use strategy for cannabis retailers, especially if you’re planning to go B2B or gain the trust of your regular customers. Customers opting for online purchases are required to input their email addresses, which you can use later on to promote your best products and deals. The best way to become product-centric can be achieved through email marketing without worrying about the restrictions imposed by Google.
Text messaging has always been counted by eCommerce sites as an efficient method of marketing their products. And when multi-billion-dollar sites like Amazon can incorporate messaging in their marketing strategies, you can do so too. SMS marketing is simple and does not need any extra investments since customers already provide their mobile numbers while signing up or ordering.
Benefits of incorporating email and SMS marketing:
- Reach people who have either bought from your company or are interested in your products.
- Do not need any extra investments.
Organize Events and Pop-Ups
Cannabis enthusiasts are known for maintaining cordial in-person relationships with their fellow people. Taking part in locally-organized cannabis events is a great idea to get in touch with other small businesses and customers. You should always look for such events taking part in your state and your neighboring ones if it is worth the effort.
These events will also provide you with the required demographic information for your company. If there are no such events to participate in, you can also choose to organize one. However, organizing such an event can be a bit cumbersome since it requires your time and investment.
There are multiple layers in organizing a cannabis pop-up:
- Legal permission from the state authorities.
- Choosing the place and time.
- Collaborating with other cannabis retailers.
- Deciding on a budget and finding sponsors.
- Looking for brand ambassadors and vendors to partner with.
- Reaching the target audience through the public relations manager.
Benefits of cannabis events:
- Building in-person relationships with fellow cannabis users.
- Getting in touch with other small businesses helps in B2B marketing.
- An opportunity to sell your products as well.
Use Cannabis Vending Machines to Sell and Promote
Cannabis vending machines were used for the first time in 2014 to dispense medical marijuana. Currently, the usage of vending machines has increased, and companies like Grasshopper Kiosks and American Green are manufacturing vending machines with proper refrigeration facilities.
But how to utilize these vending machines? You can choose to feature your interactive advertisements shown on high-resolution screens of these vending machines, or you can choose to customize one with your brand name and products. The latter method is going to be a bit more expensive than the former, but you can always count on it if you have the required budget.
Benefits of using a vending machine:
- Interactive advertisements.
- Customization with your own brand and products.
- Helps in increasing profit and monitoring every sales activity.
Offer Loyalty and Referral Programs to Strengthen Your Client Base
Humans work better with incentives. Keeping this in mind, you can consider incorporating loyalty and referral programs to increase your profit margin.
The loyalty program should be tiered so that customers can move up the ladder in a points-per-dollar reward system. A customer is given loyalty points based on the dollars spent on products, which will encourage him/her to spend even more.
Referral programs work via customers who suggest the brand to other potential customers. A referral bonus is a key component of this procedure, where a customer gets a discount or promotion for referring your company to their friend or family.
Benefits of using loyalty and referral programs:
- Works in favor of your company as well as your customer.
- Increases customer spending.
By this point, it is quite clear that marijuana marketing can be a bit difficult as compared to any other regular item, precisely due to restrictions put in place.
However, you can always count on the enthusiasm of cannabis users and the widespread movement against its legalization to drive your business forward. Considering the potential of the market, the industry may experience a boom in the upcoming days once cannabis achieves legal status federally. Until then, an entrepreneur can rely on the points mentioned above.