Marketing is as important in the cannabis industry as any other. Cannabis businesses have brands to promote and customers to reach. Yet the industry faces a strange conundrum that ultimately has a profound impact on marketing efforts: the drastic differences between state and federal laws.
Cannabis remains illegal under federal law. To date, more than three-dozen states have legalized medical cannabis while more than a dozen have approved adult use. Each of the states has its own regulations pertaining to cannabis marketing.
From a legal standpoint, marketing a cannabis business may be one of the most challenging tasks in the digital marketing world. The legal climate is such that we strongly encourage all cannabis businesses to trust their marketing to an experienced agency with proven knowledge of state and local laws. With that in mind, we have put together a list of eight essential tips for cannabis marketing.
1. Know the Law
The first and most important tip is to know the law. This much is non-negotiable. Marketing cannabis legally requires a thorough understanding of federal and state laws and how to comply with them. Cannabis businesses need to look at each state separately.
Here in Utah, cannabis regulations are extremely strict. There are certain things cannabis marketers cannot say in Utah. By contrast, California is one of the more liberal cannabis states, having legalized both medical and adult use. The state does restrict cannabis marketing to some extent, but not nearly as much as Utah.
Again, we strongly encourage cannabis businesses to work with experienced marketing partners. Here at Webtek, we are well versed in state cannabis laws and how these apply to marketing compliance. We have proven experience working with cannabis businesses throughout Utah and beyond.
2. Utilize Google My Business
Google offers a marketing service known as Google My Business (GMB). It is a free service any business can take advantage of simply by creating an account and then claiming ownership of Google’s existing profile.
The big advantage of GMB from a cannabis marketing standpoint is this: people looking to patronize cannabis businesses are almost always looking for opportunities close to them. They are looking for local pharmacies and dispensaries, local medical providers, and local couriers.
After establishing your GMB profile, do the following:
- Make sure current business information is accurate. This includes business name, address, hours, etc.
- Choose the right business category. If you operate a pharmacy or dispensary, choose ‘cannabis store’.
- Develop an enticing and SEO-optimized business description.
Once again, Webtek comes through for cannabis businesses. We include GMB optimization in our SEO packages. That, combined with our extensive knowledge of marketing compliance, gives us the ability to effectively market your business.
3. Utilize Cannabis Directories
Because cannabis businesses are largely restricted in how they can market, it is important to take advantage of the most effective strategies that still fall within that narrow compliance window. There may be no better strategy for broad market appeal than listing your business in cannabis directories.
These are typically online directories operated by well-known cannabis-based websites like Leafly.com and Weedmaps.com. These two particular sites offer detailed information on pharmacies and dispensaries nationwide. You can find business names, street addresses, and contact information.
Do not be afraid to look at websites with a much smaller reach. Here in Utah, there is an organization known as Utahmarijuana.org. Their website offers a ton of helpful information including directories for both medical cannabis dispensaries and qualified medical providers.
Bear in mind that cannabis users tend to be loyal consumers. A consumer who decides they can trust a particular directory may never look anywhere else for business listings. So it’s important that your business be listed in as many directories as possible.
4. Put Your Menu on Your Website
This next tip, putting your menu on your website, pertains mainly to cannabis pharmacies and dispensaries. Note that the cannabis industry is such that there is a lot of ambiguity and vagueness online as a result of marketers not wanting to push the compliance envelope.
Nonetheless, it is perfectly legal to display a list of products or services as long as your listings don’t violate rules pertaining to things like medical efficacy. The more specific you can be with your menu, the better job you will do informing your customers about what you offer.
Product Descriptions Are Important
Product descriptions are critically important here. Cannabis users are notorious for paying attention to everything from strains to dosage. Also know that your product descriptions can and should be optimized for SEO. If that’s not something you’re comfortable with, we can help. Our SEO experts can craft product descriptions that not only sell, but also bring tremendous SEO value to your online marketing.
5. Audit Your Website
The fifth tip is to audit your website. This may be the most comprehensive task you will have to tackle in cannabis marketing. Your goal is to fully understand the marketing funnel and its three layers:
Bottom of Funnel concentrates on education. Content explains cannabis and its consumption from multiple angles. Consider creating how-to content, an FAQ page, and pricing content. Finally, include a call to action (CTA) – especially if your organization offers medical cannabis assessments or consultations.
Middle of Funnel is designed to give customers more detailed information to help them decide between you and your competitors. Content includes product menus, descriptions, reviews and testimonials, case studies, white papers, etc.
Top of Funnel offers an opportunity for you to directly answer the questions your customers are curious about. Content includes things like blog posts, vlogs, industry news updates, and even video product demonstrations.
Webtek Digital Marketing offers expertise in all aspects of the marketing funnel. We can help you take full advantage of the funnel to introduce your company to visitors, educate them about both cannabis and your products, and provide ongoing content that keeps them coming back.
6. Maintain a Social Media Presence
Social media continues to be a powerful marketing tool that should not be ignored. It is a mainstay for cannabis marketing. Never forget that a solid social media reputation boosts brand awareness, builds trust, and enhances customer loyalty.
7. Consider Billboard Advertising
Though cannabis advertising via billboards may be somewhat restricted, many states do offer the opportunity. Billboards are a fantastic marketing tool for cannabis brands simply because it is hard to ignore billboards as you’re driving down the road. Just be sure to know and understand all billboard rules in your state.
8. Invest in Digital Ads
Unfortunately, most of the major ad platforms – including those operated by Google and Bing – prohibit cannabis marketing at this time. But think along the same lines of directory listings. Check out Weedmaps, Leafly, Marijuana Business Daily, and other industry sites. A lot of them offer paid ad opportunities.
No doubt cannabis marketing is more challenging than most other types of marketing. Due to marijuana’s legal framework, cannabis businesses need to be careful. More importantly though, business owners cannot ignore marketing, or they stand to lose out to the competition.
Our best advice for cannabis businesses is to work with experienced digital marketing agencies, like Webtek, to get their message out in a way that is both effective and compliant. That includes your business. You need the expertise and proven strategies that only a marketing firm with proven cannabis experience can deliver. Webtek is one such firm.