How to Market Your Cannabis Business

With cannabis products for medicinal and recreational use exploding into the mainstream, companies need strategic online and offline marketing strategies to cut through the noise to stand out and reach customers.

Success in a competitive environment is all about building relationships where people feel good about buying your products and services. In fact, your audience wants to have a relationship with your brand – and your company’s bottom line depends on creating long-lasting and ever-present relationships with your audience.

So how do you do that when advertising and marketing regulations differ from state to state, and the cannabis industry is limited in the type of brand-building tactics companies can utilize? While there are specifics that we’ll discuss in part two of this marketing guide, let’s start with some more general dos and don’ts for your marketing strategy.  


Marketing Do’s


Do Craft a Strong Identity

Carefully consider what you want your brand to stand for. Develop your company vision, mission and goals to guide your decision-making and establish a culture for your employees. These all work to define your brand and your marketing.

Consider the shifting views of cannabis consumption from a party drug to a health-promoting activity that can be part of a healthy lifestyle for a broad and diverse audience. You want to build your brand with positive messaging that works to break down cannabis stereotypes and stigmas.


Do Hit on the Health Benefits

Building on the point above, the modern consumer is more concerned with health than ever before. There is a large demographic of women in general and people over 50 that has almost unlimited potential as your customer base. This consumer eats organic, does yoga, has quit smoking, and is looking for effective, natural alternatives to pharmaceuticals. They might be growing some of their own food, and using a fitness app to track workouts.

The scientific community is discovering new findings and weighing in on the benefits of cannabis, and we’re learning more all the time. Bring this health-centered thinking to your cannabis marketing and leverage it.


Do Elevate the Language

Part of escaping the old stoner stereotype is giving cannabis a more refined lexicon. The industry, for example, is now the cannabis industry rather than the “pot” industry. Make use of language that moves your products into a more refined space, so “hits” become doses and “buds” are flowers. It’s about starting a more sophisticated conversation.


Marketing Don’ts


Don’t Infringe on Brand Copyrights

Mimicking established brand concepts and logos to get noticed may seem like a clever idea. But hold up, those companies aren’t going to be happy about the copyright infringement by a cannabis company. For example, Hershey’s, a Fortune 500 company with annual revenue of more than $7 billion, sent cease-and-desist letters in 2017 to at least two California marijuana companies. The candy company sued a dispensary in 2018 for selling cannabis edibles called “Reefer’s Cups” and “Mr. Dankbar.”

Big brands have deep pockets to take action against new cannabis companies, especially if they don’t want to be associated with cannabis. So don’t go there. Develop your own unique brand and materials.


Don’t Market To or Near Minors

This may seem obvious, but sometimes more challenging than you might think. The industry is young and the public has expressed concern about the impact of cannabis legalization on minors, so work to make your marketing appropriate for your company and for the perception of the industry. Forgo cartoons and other techniques that appeal to kids. Also, be careful about your locations for advertising with respect to age restrictions.

By making these part of your marketing approach, you’ll set your company up for a strategic and thoughtful brand philosophy going forward.