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.
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.