There are a million marketing options available to non-cannabis companies, and very few for cannabis brands as we’ve previously discussed in several different blog pieces. If you choose cannabis, you’re choosing to face a long list of marketing challenges that many other companies will never need to face thanks to the schedule 1 status of Cannabis and the plethora of laws surrounding it due to its illegal status on the federal level. Have no fear, though. These advertising obstacles aren’t impossible to overcome so long as your marketing team has the creativity and the know-how to help you earn a return on your advertising investments.
It’s actually not as difficult as it seems. The key is to simply work around the laws. Start by making a short list of the tactics you’d like to implement to your cannabis marketing and find a creative way to shift your thinking. Say, for example, you’d like to advertise through Google Adwords, but since you run a cannabis business, Google won’t allow it. What can you do instead? Here are 5 tactics that will help you come up with cannabis advertising and marketing ideas that work.
1. Create experiences worth sharing
Cannabis brands are still subjected to a ton of local and state laws related to advertising. So what are you supposed to do? Well, since you’re not allowed to do much of anything, you have to focus entirely on the experience you’re providing to your customers. If you’re giving off a strictly transactional vibe where people show up, buy something, and leave, you’re possibly missing out on a much-needed customer retention strategy. Dispensaries are a dime a dozen and on just about every corner. If you’re not doing something special that your customers will want to share and tell people about, you’re automatically losing. There are a ton of ways to do this, but the most creative example we’ve seen comes from Jardin Premium Cannabis Dispensary in Vegas. They chose to set up a video booth in their store that recorded a short animation of each customer, which they would then send as a GIF to the customer’s email address. That way, even if the customer didn’t buy, they still have their email address which could be used to entice them to come back and talk about their fun experience at the store.
2. Traditional marketing is still your best, most reliable friend
The marketing world as a whole has shifted from print ads on billboards and bus benches to a strictly digital, inbound driven game. However, it’s going to be your traditional marketing tactics that earn the better ROI in the cannabis industry. Social media marketing is great for other industries, but it’s largely unwelcoming to cannabis brands. In fact, it’s against the terms and conditions to even list your business on Facebook or Instagram, and you put yourself at risk of deletion and losing all of it. So what can you do instead? Capture your leads in store by setting up a kiosk where customers can provide their names, phone numbers, and email addresses to be notified of special promotions and to offer coupons and freebies on special events via email or text. Email marketing does have its own set of challenges though, as several of the larger email marketing companies won’t send email relating to cannabis. Additionally, in some states, the law doesn’t allow for text or email marketing or using the USPS. Do your research and make sure you’re following the law in your state.
3. Use tweets instead of ads.
The most popular social media platforms don’t allow ads from cannabis-related companies. So what can you do? Shake it up by publishing useful content instead of paying for ads. Tweets from Twitter often rank higher than certain web pages brought up in google searches. If you publish useful tweets that contain and relate to the keywords you want to rank for. You might see your Twitter profile at the top of a search results page where it could earn significant exposure.
4. Ditch Google and Facebook for programmatic ads
Your ad networks don’t work if you choose to work with cannabis, which means you can kiss Google Adwords and Facebook Ads (as well as pretty much everything else) goodbye. So what can you do? Put your work elsewhere. Using software like Adistry or Mantis (which are both cannabis friendly) you can display your ads to your target audience using programmatic ad buying. It works by using software or paying someone else to use the software that places bids on applicable websites to display your ads in relevant locations and optimize the way they perform.
5. Use User-generated content and brand ambassadors
Social media is too volatile to invest too much time or money into, but we still see a lot of companies putting all of their work into Instagram where their pages are often deleted with no notice. What can you do instead? Pull your content from other sources instead of pushing your own. You can’t just mass-produce content and hope that people will engage with it. Social media is about encouraging other people to produce and share content about your brand or business. A great way to do this is by utilizing brand ambassadors, which are either loyal, happy customers, or influencers in your target market who will sing your brand’s praises by creating user-generated content. This content can come in any form so long as it’s creative, engaging, and it makes sense to your brand. Additionally, this practice makes it easier for all of your customers to publish user-generated content. A great way to get started is to hold a photo contest where your customers can share photos in hopes of winning some kind of prize so long as they use your branded contest hashtag and tag your business. Some dispensaries set up special photo areas inside for customers to use. Just remember to make it fun and engaging! User-generated content is the cream of the crop but only when it’s launched properly.
Team Maryjane is a team of marketing professionals dedicated to the cannabis industry. If you want your cannabis brand to shine, be sure to check Team Maryjane’s cannabis marketing blog every week for more marketing tips and tricks. If you’re a dispensary, a grow operation or any other marijuana-related business, we’re your one-stop marijuana marketing shop, and we’re always a short email or phone call away. Let’s get started!