Strategic and effective marketing is a cornerstone of success and growth for any business, but can be especially imperative within the cannabis industry.
Nearly 75 percent of consumers have purchased a product after seeing it in a social media post, and about 44 percent of consumers have purchased items they’ve seen on a brand’s social media post.
However, because cannabis laws and restrictions vary from state to state, it can be difficult to navigate the current landscape laden with regulations and restrictions that lawmakers have placed on cannabis businesses. So, it can be even more difficult to gain national awareness of your brand and products.
Although the industry is limited in the type of marketing that can be utilized, cannabis businesses are still able to market themselves, especially on social media, to increase brand awareness while being mindful of their state’s and social media platform’s restrictions. Popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all have their own policies that limit social media marketing options for cannabis businesses.
Any cannabis business that publishes content on one of these social media platforms run the risk of having their profiles or pages shut down without notice, and businesses that try to run ads on these platforms could have their ad accounts shut down also. Instagram, however, generally does not flag cannabis content, so it has become a critical marketing tool.
So, while keeping laws and restrictions in mind, here are some steps you can take to market your cannabis brand online:
Defining the business and audience
Defining the business and identifying the target market prior to launching the business is an integral step and should be done lightly.
Not every person uses cannabis in the same way, or for the same purpose, so one business cannot be all things cannabis for every cannabis consumer. Are the products medical or adult-use? Will your business model focus on higher volume at a lower, more accessible cost, or higher cost for premium products?
Once a target market has been established, improve the customer experience. Are your customers interested in your products because of quality, or convenience? How did they hear about you? This information will help in creating and maintaining an accurate profile of your customer base, and will help you hone in on ways to effectively cater to their needs.
Before over-investing in any one channel, feedback should be collected first from customers to uncover concrete specifics as to what they are interested in and how they view and use the products.
Experimentation is an important part of growing a business. Measure whether these experiments work based on customer feedback, and play with different strategies and ways to grow your business. When implementing new ideas, set specific goals and ways to measure whether or not these goals are achieved.
Additionally, according to the U.S. Census, African Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans represent nearly 40% of the U.S. population, and consumers within those demographic groups have an impressive spending power of $3.2 trillion. So, don’t forget to market towards BIPOC communities.
Consider the business’s purpose
A cannabis business has the power and opportunity to educate and help eliminate the stigmas that years of prohibition have placed on the industry. By marketing to a broader group of people and maintaining fair labor practices, it will help build a successful cannabis brand, as the efforts will attract a broader audience from diverse backgrounds and demographics who feel more comfortable supporting a brand over a business that perpetuates stereotypes and does little to improve the lives of those who have been impacted by prohibition and the war on drugs.
Focus on Education
A goal for marketing cannabis products and services can be more successful if the focus is placed on educating consumers rather than selling to them. The more education that a consumer receives on the plant and various products, the more likely they are to purchase from that brand because the brand has established trust with the consumer through their expertise.
Furthermore, some social media platforms (and competitors on the platform) may flag cannabis accounts, especially those that advertise prices on their posts. So, it’s best to focus on education about the products as your selling point.