Digital Marketing Strategy for the Marijuana Industry | Creating Buyer Personas

Understanding your Customer | Digital Marketing Strategy, Part 3/5

In branding, buyer persona, content writing, marijuana marketing, strategy by Josh Whitaker

Digital Marketing Strategy for the Marijuana Industry

Sorry to be the one to break it to you, but your website and digital marketing strategy is not all about you.

I know. We’re as shocked as you are.  

You know all that work you just did, transforming your brand into the life of the party? Well, it wasn’t really for you. Your website and other online marketing is all about your customer. It’s about what they want, what they find interesting, what they are looking for, and what they want to buy. It’s a pretty one-sided relationship, actually.

Your brand is there to catch their attention across a crowded room. After that, if you want to keep their attention, the focus must be squarely on them.


Your entire digital marketing strategy should begin and end with your customer. In order to do that, you need to know them really, really well. Developing buyer personas helps you do that. Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your customer’s wants, needs, challenges, demographic information, and psychographic information. They are hugely important if you want to publish the kind of content online that will attract and convert more leads. Which is kinda the entire point.


Digital Marketing Strategy for the Marijuana Industry | Creating Buyer PersonasStep 1. Figure out how many buyer personas you need for an effective digital marketing strategy.

Very few businesses are only in business to serve one type of person. The best way to go about this is to think about how your customers buy from you. If you own a medical marijuana dispensary, I’d bet that your customers go about buying medical cannabis products quite differently than recreational users.

A medical marijuana advertising campaign launched with the intention of getting more medical patients aware of the quality products you carry, should look very different then trying to entice young party-goers in search of a healthier-good time for the weekend. Then, at a minimum there are 2 different buyer personas here that need to be created for this scenario. And you will likely have more than that.  Think of out of state medical refugees. Think of pricing. Think of location.

Don’t get overwhelmed by the number of personas. Start with the ones that are the most obvious and pressing.

Step 2. Create a customer profile for each persona the will guide digital marketing decisions.

The goal is to bring each type of customer to life. Give them a face and a name. Make each persona come to life. After all, each one represents actual, in-real-life, people that you want to spend actual in-real-life money with you.

Creating effective buyer personas requires three things:

  1. Research
  2. More research
  3. And even more research.

This isn’t actually a joke. It’s like a treasure hunt where the deeper you dig, the more grand and sparkly the potential the rewards.

Find out everything you can on each persona. The best way to do this is to talk to (drum roll) actual people! Even in our digital age, and even for cannabis marketing, especially for cannabis marketing actually, the personas are shifting. You are not just selling to “stoners.” Oh my goodness, no.

Get out there and interview current customers, prospects, and even co-workers. You can also gather a lot of useful information online. Consider if one of your buyer personas is a 25-year-old Hispanic female with a recent college degree. You can probably gain a lot of insight from online research about her generation, her culture, and the economic reality of life for recent college graduates.

Your personas should have enough information to be truly useful to you. They should form a story that tells you how to speak to your customers online including, what kind of information you should provide them, where you’ll be able to find them online, and what kinds of things you should offer them.

Step 3: Go for it.

The basic elements to get started: 

Demographics Age, sex, heritage, income, location, religion, and marital status.
Occupation Role, job, title, industry.
Psychographic Goals, needs, wants, challenges, and frustrations of customer
Information & Technology Where they go for information, technological savviness, frequented social media sites
Buying habits Shopping preferences, disposable income, spending habits in your industry.  
Objections Typical issues and concerns brought up by this customer profile (so you can address them!)
Buying Process How did they find you? What is their typical process to purchase your goods or services? What do they need before they make a decision?

With every item you dive into, focus on “why” they behave that way. What are their motives for making one choice over another?

For example, if your marijuana-related customer prefers to search videos on YouTube for current events instead of perusing headlines online, you should focus on the reason behind that preference. It’s those reasons that will give you the insight you need to know how to market to them.

Digital Marketing Strategy for the Marijuana Industry | Creating Buyer Personas

Finally, make your buyer persona real by adding an image that best represents what each typical persona might look like. It sometimes also helps to add a quote or two that represents what that persona might say to you if they were standing in front of you right now.

How does all this fit into your digital marketing strategy?

The goal of creating buyer personas isn’t just so you can decorate your office with some interesting stories about generalized groups of people. Buyer Personas are in incredibly useful tool that will save you oodles of time and energy—if you know how to use them to make smart decisions about your digital marketing strategy. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Smarter advertising. If you discover, through research, that one of your personas loves Facebook, is baffled by twitter, loves fashion blogs, and hates to play online games, that tells you a lot about where you should and shouldn’t allocate digital marketing and advertising dollars.
  1. Be a better listener. One of the most basic rules of sales is to ask a lot of questions and then listen (really listen!) to your prospects answers. If you want your digital marketing strategy to result in more sales online, the same principle applies. Your persona research should tell you where you can find your prospects online so that you can monitor those channels and interact with them there.
  1. Create separate marketing strategies for each persona. Your digital marketing strategy should include separate advertising campaigns, social media campaigns for each persona that speak their language and touch on their unique pain points, wants and needs. Write blog posts and web pages that speak to each individual persona and link your other digital marketing activities (such as social media and online advertising) to those specific posts and pages. Segment your email lists for each persona and create opt-in opportunities and email marketing campaigns that each persona will find irresistible.


You’ve clearly defined who you are and who your customer is! You have some great ideas for how you can create some great digital marketing campaigns for each type of customer you want to market to. Now… let’s talk about how you can make sure that all that is incorporated into your digital marketing strategy in a way that actually gets in front of your customers. To do that, you’ve got to understand your market.

That also happens to be the next topic in our 5 part series of our Digital Marketing series for the cannabis industry, “Understanding Your Market.”

Should we all do some cannabis market research?

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