Finding effective and legal cannabis marketing strategies is challenging because cannabis is still illegal under federal law. Many traditional avenues, including Google pay-per-click (PPC) and social media platforms, don’t permit cannabis-related advertisements. However, the restrictions on marijuana marketing don’t stop cannabis companies from getting the word out there about their products and brands in several creative ways.
Marketing Strategy #1 – Offer Unique Value
Valued at $25 billion in 2021, the cannabis industry is full of companies competing for attention in the public eye. Having a unique or innovative value proposition can help your cannabis business stand out against the noise and greatly increases your chances of being featured on cannabis websites and in local publications.
A great example of this is The Original Resinator, the only patented all-in-one solventless extraction machine with dry, wet, and flash-freeze capabilities. According to the brand’s website, their machines can take cannabis buds from harvested to cured in as little as 24 hours. Because no other cannabis brand offers anything quite like it, this business immediately stands out from the crowd.
Marketing Strategy #2 – Use Content Marketing & SEO
Search engines are the first port of call for most potential cannabis customers, so it’s essential to have strong search engine optimization for your website. Companies that offer cannabis SEO services are experienced in finding high-value short- and long-tail keywords that get around stigma-related bans and can improve your website’s ranking in search results.
If you’ve already built a high-quality website with live menus and professional product photography, SEO providers can increase your organic traffic with:
- Geo-optimized product and category pages
- Keyword-optimized educational content in a learning center or blog that answers your potential customers’ questions
- Keyword-optimized images and videos
- Valuable inbound links that improve your domain and page authorities
As part of your digital marketing strategy, don’t forget to create profiles for Google My Business and Yelp. Cannabis legalization is state-based, and local SEO can help you reach your potential customers.
Marketing Strategy #3 – Be Active On Social Media
While you can’t run paid ads on Facebook or Instagram, being present on social media sites is still one of the most important marketing strategies for dispensaries and cannabis brands. Posting regularly on at least one popular social media platform (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc) keeps your cannabis products in front of your target audience. You should create content that your followers will want to share, expanding your reach to their personal networks as well.
You also need to actively follow related accounts that your target audience follows and provide your own expert insights. This can lead to exponential exposure & visibility almost immediately. Just make sure that you’re not spamming the other accounts with useless comments.
Tip: Encourage User Engagement (UGC)
Cannabis business owners who decide to get on social media should consider user-generated content (UGC). Encouraging your followers to post photos and tag your cannabis business on social media is an effective “social proof” strategy for your brand.
Remember that UGC always needs to be moderated, and you should respond quickly and helpfully if you’re tagged in comments that express a complaint. Many cannabis businesses offer rewards in the form of prizes, discounts, or being featured on their website to customers who tag them in a post or leave a review.
Marketing Strategy #4 – Use Video Marketing
YouTube and Vimeo don’t have the same restrictions as Facebook, Instagram, and Google as far as weed-related content is concerned. This makes them excellent platforms for cannabis marketing. According to a Business Insider estimate for 2020, there are likely more than 244.4 million video digital video viewers in the US, and you can reach them effectively with video marketing.
Video Marketing Tips
For businesses, the most effective videos are around five minutes in length, posted a few times a week. And while you should only post high-quality content, it’s not usually necessary to spend a lot of money creating professional videos.
A short product demonstration, how-to video for beginners, or short video comparing two products or brands with a clear CTA (call to action) and link to your website is often just as effective for increasing web traffic as an expensive, 20-minute production.
Note: Cannabis Videos Cannot Be Available to Minors
To make sure that your videos are only viewed by over-18s, go to Age Restriction and select “Yes” in YouTube Studio before publishing each video. YouTube will then allow only those users who are signed in and over 18 (according to the birth date on their account) to access and watch the videos.
Marketing Strategy #5 – Influencers & Collaborations
Cannabis advertising isn’t something you need to do alone. In fact, forming lucrative business relationships not only cuts your advertising bill in half but also doubles the reach of your campaign.
Influencer marketing is one of the simplest ways to collaborate. Find local pro-cannabis influencers on social media and offer them some free products in exchange for promoting your cannabis brand to their followers (if they loved the products you gave them, of course!). Search related hash tags and see which brands are getting love from influencers.
Another cannabis marketing strategy is to collaborate with other brands in a shared-cost advertising campaign. For example, an infused beverage company could partner with an edibles company to offer the perfect Mother’s Day gift package. You could also consider a collaboration with a brand that doesn’t even sell cannabis products. For example, a grower that specializes in Gorilla Glue #4 could partner with an animal park.
Marketing Strategy #6 – Traditional PR Outreach
There are plenty of cannabis industry websites and local news sites that accept paid cannabis ads. Leafly and Weedmaps are just two examples of cannabis-centered websites that promote dispensaries, equipment manufacturers, and medical marijuana doctors on their sites.
For local media coverage opportunities, identify local newspapers and magazines that have featured cannabis businesses before and offer them a great story. It might be that you participated in a community event, developed a new strain, or recently opened your doors for business. Let your local cannabis-friendly media company know about it for your chance to be featured in the news.
Marketing Strategy #7 – Outdoor Advertising
In some states, billboard advertising is the primary avenue for raising brand awareness and attracting potential customers to your dispensary, MMJ doctor clinic, or website. As cannabis billboards aren’t allowed in some states, it’s important to check your local laws before going ahead with outdoor cannabis marketing strategies.
In Maryland, marijuana dispensaries and brands aren’t allowed to advertise on billboards. In California, a cannabis billboard must be located at least 1,000 feet from a daycare center, K-12 school, playground, or youth center. If your state allows cannabis billboards, make sure that your ad complies with all of the relevant laws.
The good news is that the return on investment for billboard advertising is very encouraging. It’s impossible to cover a billboard with an ad blocker or “skip ad” button! The Out of Home Advertising Association of America estimates that every dollar spent on out-of-home advertising generates around $5.97 in revenue (2017). If you can, definitely consider billboards!
Marketing Strategy #7 – Cannabis Events
Finally, participating in local marijuana events is an excellent way to connect with your local cannabis market and become known. Expos, conventions, festivals, camps, and legalization rallies usually have an area dedicated to vendors—just check beforehand whether you’re allowed to sell cannabis products at the event, or whether you’ll need to focus on hemp, CBD, flyers, and stickers.
To promote your cannabis company and raise brand awareness in the community, consider becoming a speaker at the event and sharing your knowledge about topics like medical marijuana and cannabis laws, or present an innovative product that you’ve recently launched. Once you’ve raised brand awareness and increased your customer base, give your new customers a wonderful experience and word-of-mouth marketing should do the rest!
Effective Cannabis Marketing Strategies Work
Marketing for cannabis companies takes a little more know-how and creativity than marketing for other kinds of products. However, there are plenty of strategies that cannabis companies are using successfully and these same strategies can work for you!
The main things to remember with cannabis marketing strategies are to be professional, engaging, and above all, consistent. Offer an amazing product and get the word out through the appropriate channels, and you should soon have a growing collection of five-star customer testimonials to inspire confidence and trust in your brand and take your cannabis marketing efforts even further.