How to Market Your Cannabis Business – Part 2

If you’re building a cannabis brand, you need to know how to navigate the legal landscape and go strong on digital marketing. An effective strategy will be driven by search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing like websites and blogs, and email campaigns with expert consumer targeting.   

Why focus on digital? It has incredible reach as more people go online for socializing and purchasing (smart brands connect the two). Also, you can better measure the success of your marketing with key performance metrics like impressions, clicks, and conversion rates. This information provides the data and insight to evaluate and adjust your marketing to boost results.

Cannabis Advertising: Know the Rules

With cannabis legalization, regulations are in place to promote responsible consumption and protect minors. Companies can’t promote people or events, use celebrity endorsements, or promote “glamour, recreation, risk, excitement or daring behaviors.” Companies can, however, work within the restrictions by selling swag like T-shirts and bags, hosting concerts and gallery shows, and using utilitarian and subdued product packaging.

Under Canada’s federal rules, cannabis companies are allowed to use advertising to provide “factual, accurate information about cannabis products,” including levels of THC and CBD, along with information that “allows consumers to tell the difference between brands.”

With conventional advertising largely prohibited, email marketing and social media are fast becoming the new frontier for cannabis companies to test messaging and reach customers.

Shuttered Social Accounts Impact Bottom Line

There are no AdWords or Facebook advertising programs available, and no opportunities to advertise a cannabis company in mainstream advertising. This is unlikely to change until cannabis products are legal in the U.S. across the board at the federal level.

 

In fact, Facebook and Instagram deactivated accounts for at least six cannabis companies in Massachusetts, including Cultivate and New England Treatment Access (NETA), which were the first two stores in the state allowed to sell recreational cannabis on November 20, 2018. This is a big hit, given that a company’s social pages are just as important, if not more so, than its website. How do customers find you? How do you build an engaging relationship with customers? Lesson learned: you need to maintain social pages in keeping with the platform’s community standards.

The good news is that there are a number of smart, impactful tactics that companies can use in digital marketing. Here are a few tips to get you thinking:

Digital Opportunities: Collaborate on Content  

Budding cannabis companies can gain a much wider audience by collaborating on content. Publishing partners like Leafly and other websites offer marketing partnerships, so you can create blog posts, videos, and infographics that help inform people about this new industry and its products. As more people become curious about cannabis, there is growing demand for information. The more your content is viewed and shared, the better for brand exposure.

Cannabis review websites are also gaining ground, with Leafly, Lift & Co., and others offering reviews of dispensaries and even particular strains. Sponsoring this kind of content is valuable for getting more eyes on your brand.  

Advertise on Industry-Relevant Websites

Get noticed by listing your company or advertising on reputable cannabis-specific websites and online communities. Again, you’re gaining eyeballs by piggybacking on a popular site’s established viewership.

On the same note, get familiar with the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) Standards for Digital Ad Placement. You can streamline your workflow by using the standard dimensions and guidelines when you work with designers, advertisers, and publishers to build your ad package. You can use scalable ad campaigns across a variety of digital ad spaces.

Use SEO Best Practices

Take advantage of search traffic in Google or other search engine. Start by targeting the keywords you want your webpages to rank for, and use them in your title tag, meta description, and page copy.

Incorporate your keywords in your native advertising – the messaging content that integrates with the look and feel of your website. As more consumers block out traditional ads, native ads can captivate the audience with material that offers some inherent value. When another influential site picks up or shares this content, you drive the SEO value of your native advertising.

Get to Know Your Customers

Build a list of customer emails and behavior data. This is critical for direct communication with your customers about events, promotions, and other news. You should also establish a regular cadence with your mailing list so that customers keep your business in mind. Just don’t overdo the frequency!