The Top 3 Marijuana Marketing Pitfalls (and how to Avoid Them)

Marijuana Social Media

Marijuana Social Media

With 26 states having at least some form of legalized marijuana, the cannabis industry has officially gone mainstream. If the votes don’t prove it, the money sure does. Colorado alone made over $1 billion last year, and business doesn’t appear to be slowing down anywhere in the country.

Needless to say, the year ahead is going to be a huge one for the cannabis industry. The businesses that stand out and succeed against the competition will be those who market themselves effectively and stay on the right side of a shifting legal landscape.

While advertising should be a part of every cannabis business’ marketing strategy, there are three potential pitfalls that all cannabis business owners can work to avoid.

STATE ADVERTISING REGULATIONS

Even though over half the country has legalized either medicinal or recreational marijuana, cannabis is still illegal federally. With no federal guidelines, each state has their own unique rules on cannabis advertising.

Take Colorado for instance. Like other states with legal cannabis, Colorado has some fairly strict laws regarding online advertising. According to their rules, a “retail marijuana establishment” has to show that no more than “30% of the audience” for your website or blog is under the age of 21.  Other legal cannabis states like Washington are more explicit about prohibiting advertising to minors. In the state of Washington, cannabis retailers aren’t allowed to create advertisements that would be “appealing to children or other persons under twenty-one years of age.”

Because of these and similar laws around the country, cannabis marketers need to be especially careful with how they target their campaigns, and when and where they place their advertising.

SOCIAL MEDIA BLUNDERS

Social media outreach can increase brand awareness, attract new fans and drive sales. Many cannabis retailers have even taken on social media managers to get the message out about their products. Unfortunately, social media giants like Facebook have erred on the side of caution when it comes to marijuana advertising, and do not allow for retail marijuana businesses to run paid promotions for their product.

While you can post ands sell to followers who live in your state, Facebook will typically block any attempt to run a cannabis-related ad on their platform unless you are extremely delicate in selecting your language and imagery. Brands that provide services to the cannabis industry or who use their pages to promote cannabis advocacy and information can make careful use of Facebook’s advertising tools to run specific types of ads and promotions.

Another great option for running your social media campaign is MassRoots. MassRoots markets itself as the social media platform for marijuana and it requires users to affirm that they’re 21 years of age before entering the site. There, you can run just about any ad you want to a highly targeted, useful audience.

STONER CLICHES

Gone are the days of Bob Marley posters, tie dye and Cheech and Chong. Today’s cannabis users and business owners are a much more sophisticated audience than they had been in the past. Between recreational and medicinal cannabis, everyone from rappers and comedians to doctors, lawyers and even grandmothers are interested in using cannabis and your marketing has to be able to meet them in the middle.

To avoid turning off a lucrative audience, avoid stoner slang and overly pot-centric visuals. Instead, opt for modern designs, sleek fonts and a clearer brand voice to carry your message to the most diverse audience possible.

Six Strategies for Truly Effective Digital Marketing

Cannabis Websites

The cannabis industry is exploding nationwide. According to Forbes, marijuana sales topped $6.7 billion in 2016 alone. With so much money to be made, it seems as though new cannabis business concepts are appearing over night. The brands that stand out and thrive in this evolving market will need to work with the future in mind, a path that starts with these core steps.

Create a Conversation Online

It’s about more than just hashtags. The cannabis industry is literally a multi-billion-dollar enterprise linking millions of people. The best part? Its years spent underground have inspired a large and passionate community that’s only grown and evolved as more states have legalized marijuana. A major percentage of these cannabis enthusiasts are already online, posting blogs, talking on forums and sharing content conversation on social media.

Creating and hosting your own unique content is essential in helping your brand find it’s way into the conversation. Building useful, creative and entertaining content encourages fans and new customers alike to spread the word and include your brand in the online conversation.

Listen to Your Customers

One of the most important tools social media gives your business is the ability to see what your customers say and do. The brands that are currently winning in the cannabis industry are putting this concept to use daily. Knowing both what your customers like about your brand and what they value in other brands is crucial to forming lasting connections and converting fans into advocates.

Each specific cannabis niche will have its own unique target audience. For instance, many modern cannabis consumers are also interested in health, wellness, and fitness routines. Discovering that information first hand and marketing in ways that emphasize and tie your brand into a healthy lifestyle will help you resonate even stronger with your audience.

Encourage Audience Participation

Use your social media to promote contests, giveaways, games and discounts earned through user interaction. Encouraging you fans to like, share, provide information and submit content in exchange for a small reward is a fantastic way to spread brand awareness, and earn good will from your online audience.

Work Within Your State’s Laws

Each state has its own set of laws and regulations on cannabis advertising. It’s essential that you understand both state and local advertising laws before you create your marketing campaign. You don’t want to pay fines or have to redo your entire campaign because you didn’t consider something basic.

Create New Experiences

As important as it is to follow the rules, it’s ok for your brand to take some creative risks. Embrace new marketing channels alongside your audience, and develop content that people actually want to see.

Don’t be afraid to abandon old stoner clichés in favor of more modern design and marketing concepts. The brands that dominate the national market in the future will be the ones that appeal to the widest range of people, embrace opportunities to stand out above the crowd and be found in new and unexpected places.

Send The Right Message

Just remember to market according to your state’s laws and always use words and graphics that convey the image you want associated with your brand. Avoid words like “ganja” or phrases like “getting high”. Instead speak to more tangible benefits such as the effects of a strain or the lifestyle benefits of your service. That way your actual goal won’t get mixed up in tired clichés and bad stereotypes.

Can You Advertise Marijuana on Facebook?

Facebook is an obvious go-to for any business hoping to promote themselves, but is it okay to advertise marijuana on it? Recreational use is now legal in several states, and medical use is sanctioned in far more. Nevertheless, proprietors of marijuana dispensaries and related businesses must still adhere to certain laws and restrictions when it comes to advertising. This is especially true for businesses hoping to reach multi-state consumers. Cannabis websites alone generally do not get into hot water, but where does Facebook fall among legal marketing platforms?

It turns out that Facebook is still a bit of a gray area. Fortunately, however, much of this grayness comes from misunderstandings about the social network’s policies. The fact is that posts and sidebar advertisements concerning marjuana are still prohibited by Facebook (yes, even if they originated in areas where such content is not illegal). This is basically Facebook’s way of protecting its own interests, since after all, marijuana still remains illegal on a federal level.

But all hope is not lost. Facebook pages for dispensaries and marijuana-related businesses are still very much alive. And in general, they do not get blocked or taken down. The key difference here is that simply creating a page for your business is not illegal (just look at all the different kinds of pages out there, about virtually anything you can think of) nor is creating a page advocating for the legalization of marijuana, but advertising your product is. So even if you already have a marijuana website design you’re pretty proud of and/or have mastered marijuana SEO, you should still seize the important opportunity of creating an active Facebook page for your business. Then, you just need to be rather careful in your wording of your posts to make them not appear to be advertisements (simply sharing articles on marijuana-related news or sharing marijuana websites is a good start, for instance).

Now, because of the “no advertising” policy, this means that the vast majority of your page followers will have to be grown organically. Be sure to put a Facebook symbol or even a “like us on Facebook” sign in your store (if you own a store), your website, or even on T-shirts and other merchandise. Marketing is really all about creativity, after all.

Now, if your page or any of your posts DO happen to get blocked by Facebook, it never hurts to shoot their service center a message about it (make sure it is well-written and polite). You never know– sometimes what one person may perceive as blatant advertising may be viewed as something else entirely by another. It’s your business, after all, and it is worth the effort.

Know Your Clients: Target Your Marijuana Marketing

Marijuana, like any consumer product, is a competitive business. Companies are competing every day for business and customers. If your company wants to come out ahead of all the rest, then it is extremely important that you know the ins and outs of your client base. In order to get the most return on your marketing investment, you need to be focusing your marketing strategy and resources on the people who are actually buying your product.

The first thing you must do as a dispensary owner is determine who you are targeting. The demographics of recreational users are different from the demographics of medical users, and it’s important to know who you are selling to in order to focus your efforts correctly. Medicinal users are typically middle aged, and two thirds of them are men. The bulk of medical users have used marijuana before, and are looking primarily to relieve pain rather than smoking for recreational use. Therefore, if your dispensary is medically focused, your marketing should focus on middle aged users who have experience smoking, with a slant toward men.

Recreational users, however, have a much different demographic breakdown in terms of potential sales. Recreational marijuana users in Colorado, for example, are distributed across all ages. Colorado recreational marijuana users who use every day or nearly every day account for only 30% of users, but make up 85% of overall sales. Your business must therefore focus on the acquisition of long-term customers.  When selling recreational marijuana, the repeat customer is absolutely integral to your business.

There is another important marketing focus when it comes to recreational cannabis. In Colorado, a large portion of the sales not made to repeat customers in cities are made instead to tourists in the mountain counties. Tourists are an important demographic to market to because people on vacation are already prepared to spend money on recreation. If your marijuana website and other marketing tools are enticing tourists, you will be well on your way to cashing in on this important clientele.

With all of this information in mind, it’s important to figure out what to do with it. The demographics of marijuana users demand that a business present itself as clean, professional, and accessible to a variety of clients of various usage frequencies. A marijuana marketing agency can be a great tool to help build your business through focusing on the needs of your clients to drive sales, and your business will be much stronger for it.

Three Effective Strategies for Cannabis Marketing

Brand marketing has become the most effective tool in the cannabis industry as an increasing number of companies are targeting to expand their business across cities, states and international boundaries. Traditionally, growers, dispensaries, infused product businesses and retailers mostly depended upon word-of-mouth to have their names out in the local community. Many took the help of online listing sites like Weedmaps and Leafly, while some put ads in regional alternative newspapers.

This worked efficiently until the business came out of its confinement and started to expand. Today, growth in the marijuana industry is rising relatively and businesses are looking for answers for making their products a household brand.

Many established medical marijuana businesses are trying to expand their brands into new markets like Illinois and Nevada. On the other hand, recreational corporations in Washington State and Colorado are trying to extend their hands in Alaska and Oregon. Putting up a product on shelves or opening up a store in a recognizable state is an effective expansion strategy for cannabis marketing. Estimates suggest that over 90 percent of cannabis companies will grow this year. Therefore, branding will be a necessity to win the race.

The Walgreen’s Model

Bruse Nassau, the co-founder of Tru Cannabis, says that Branding is the most important factor in marketing and that customer recognition is the most valuable asset for any business. He currently owns 5 recreational shops and dispensaries in Colorado.

Prior to owning the Tru Cannabis chain of dispensaries, he owned a cable television installation and servicing company called Telecrafter Services. He says that his brand marketing campaigns helped him establish a name for his cable television company. His hard work paid off real soon. It was not long when Telecraft became a recognizable and respected brand in the world of cable companies. Even the executives of large cable companies were aware of his company. This opened up lot of opportunities for Nassau and helped him grow revenues.

He plans the same for his newly owned dispensaries. He suggests that a Tru Cannabis client form Denver can easily access a Tru Cannabis store in Portland. The only thing you need to know is the name, logo and reputation to make purchases without any hassle. He calls this strategy “Walgreen’s Model”. According to this model the cost of advertising also decreases as you have to put on a single ad for all the stores under the same brand.

Early Adopter

Dixie Elixirs is an edible company that has created a good brand reputation in the industry. Advertising in the cannabis industry is restricted to a large extent. So, executives of this company has used a combination of marketing, press relations and word-of-mouth to reach out to larger number of customers.

Along with customers, this company markets its products to dispensary owners who sell them. After creating a creative logo for the company, executives also designed the packages. Since packaging is the initial handshake with the customers, this company has high hopes on its cannabis marketing strategies.

Look to Beer Industry

Ideas for cannabis marketing strategies can be drawn from long-standing beer companies like Budweiser. People prefer Bud products over others because of its recognizable brand, logo and catchphrases. However, creating a recognizable brand name is not easy and requires lot of time and hardwork. For success in the long run, it is important to establish a name, logo and marketing strategies. If you are doing the job right, you will blessed with improved revenue and a broader customer base.

For more information on how to promote your cannabis business, reach out to the experts at Marijuana Marketing Gurus.