The Cannabis industry is booming, and with over 11,000 cannabis retail stores open in North America, and thousands more awaiting the green light, understanding cannabis marketing is lucrative to the success of your operation.
Cannabis marketing means the promotion of cannabis and its derivatives to increase awareness and sales. Over the years, industry restrictions and regulations have made this quite the task but today we are going to talk about cannabis marketing specifically for dispensaries, otherwise known as cannabis retail stores.
How to market a dispensary.
The world of cannabis marketing is a vast one - but today we are going to focus on how to market a dispensary in particular.
Marketing a dispensary is unique, because you have the ability to leverage the numerous internet and social media platforms. Combining these platforms with effective strategies can help you understand how to reach your audience even in the face of COVID-19 and its after-effects.
You can also leverage the features of cannabis software to manage your marketing. In this guide we are going to share 7 powerful ways you can market your dispensary, helping you stand out from the rest
What are some of the biggest marketing challenges for marketing a dispensary?
You will find there are many marketing channels at your disposal. At the same time, marketing a dispensary exposes you to different challenges ranging from the task of brand building and promotion to market restrictions. Some of the major challenges you are most likely to face in dispensary marketing include:
The biggest marketing challenges for cannabis marketing include:
- Social media ad restrictions
- Limited demographic to target
- Limited ad budgets
- Building brand awareness and trust
- Navigating compliance regulations
Social media ad restrictions.
Major social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter place specific bans on ads related to cannabis and dispensary promotions. For instance, Facebook guidelines explicitly state that the platform prohibits the promotion, prescription, or sale of recreational drugs via ads.
Twitter's business policy places a global ban on the promotion of drugs and drug paraphernalia, which includes dispensaries. There are a few exemptions to these social media dispensary prohibitions that dispensaries can leverage for targeted marketing.
Limited demographic to target.
As exemplified by the Twitter business policy, places that a dispensary can target for marketing and ads are limited. This is because not many countries and governments approve the sale or use of cannabis and other related drugs. Even when they are permitted, there are usually many terms and conditions that may prove different to adhere to.
Limited ad budgets.
Ads for dispensary marketing can cost a lot of money, depending on the target and specifications. Especially with the restrictions, the limited advertising options may create a hike in price. As such, not all dispensaries can sustain a good budget for effective and wide-reaching ads.
Building brand awareness and trust.
Normally, it takes quite a lot of effort to build a business brand. It becomes even more challenging to build a dispensary brand when cannabis and other products they deal in are largely restricted. Due to the limitations in the marketing means and platforms, it may be difficult to extend brand awareness to some audiences.
Navigating compliance regulations.
Failure to adhere to the cannabis marketing laws stipulated by the government and other law enforcement agencies may attract severe penalties for dispensaries. As such, they face the challenge of having to manipulate their marketing strategies to remain in compliance with the stipulated cannabis marketing regulations.
1 - Build a powerful brand.
Branding is one of the most powerful marketing strategies for every business. From increasing your business awareness and reach to adding a sense of originality, branding gives you the edge you need in a competitive market.
When you speak of branding, you're talking about everything that pertains to how the dispensary projects its image and reputation to the general public. This includes elements such as its logo, business name, product packaging, pricing, warranty, customer relationship, etc. Each of these elements is very important as they combine to influence how customers perceive your business.
Building and regularly improving your dispensary’s brand builds your customer’s trust. Given the nature of the products offered by a dispensary, people prefer to patronize reputable and trusted sources. Branding will add a touch of authenticity and credibility to your dispensary, allowing you to expand your business in the future with the assurance of a loyal customer base.
2 - Get media coverage at your dispensary.
For the rapidly growing cannabis industry, there are many questions the media and public desire to ask, and information needed to be learned. Getting media coverage for your dispensary can help you answer these questions and gain the awareness you need.
You can partner your dispensary with reputable media outlets for regular news, articles, and publications that are cannabis-related. Make sure you go for the dispensary-and-cannabis-friendly media or press. Good examples of such media outlets include Forbes, which dedicated a team to the cannabis industry. Other examples are Marijuana Venture and Cannabis Business Times.
3 - Stay up to date on advertising regulations.
In the aspect of marketing and advertisements, the cannabis industry is not considered very liberal on social media. Therefore, you need to keep your business abreast with the current advertising regulations to ensure compliance. Violating these regulations may attract consequences that may be both finance-intensive and reputation-destructive.
4 - Leverage social media to market your dispensary.
Social media is about being social, and connecting with your community - consider this when you use this method to market your dispensary! We know that most platforms have strict laws around selling or marketing the substance directly - however there are ways to get around this by moving from selling, to promoting a brand and building client awareness.
In the world of marketing, brand awareness is the building block to a strong foundation of sales. We give before we ask. This can be a way to get creative, and have fun with your brand - while connecting with potential clients, and like minded cannabis aficionados.
Here are some unique ways you can use social media, legally, to market your dispensary.
How to use Twitter to market your cannabis dispensary
- Follow hashtags
The hashtag is one of the most powerful features of Twitter. It is used to categorize and group tweets into topics or trends. It is a powerful tool that helps you boost the exposure of your tweets and help your audience find you without much stress.
You can tag your cannabis dispensary tweets along popular or trending hashtags to attract more engagement. However, following a hashtag that is not related to your industry can be a huge turn-off for viewers.
In addition, you can create hashtags for your events and programs to help your online community connect with your brand.
- Share fun content that people will want to re-tweet
Twitter is widely renowned as a social network for having fun. Many people may not be interested in your timeline if the tone of your tweets is rigid and denotes strictly business. As such, it is a good practice to find ways to weave fun content into your cannabis marketing strategies.
You can create memes and cannabis-related jokes that your Twitter community can easily relate to and re-tweet. The more they re-tweet, the more your brand identity is being promoted despite the nature of the content.
- Use your company voice, and stand out
In the bid to blend into the Twitter community, ensure you do not lose your company voice. Post your tweets with jargon and tones that appeal to your target audience. You can also carve out a unique marketing style and voice for your brand.
How to use Instagram to market your cannabis dispensary
- Analytics and research can help you find out the geographic locations that are interested in cannabis. Target these areas in your Instagram marketing to boost your conversion rate.
- You can maximize your existing Instagram community to promote your dispensary by getting them to share your posts.
- Customize a hashtag for your events and activities. Custom hashtags make it easier for your posts to be located, followed, and shared.
- Find out the Instagram accounts of similar companies and follow them. When they follow you back, it becomes easier to reach their audience.
- Spice up your marketing by organizing online contests to promote your dispensary. You can attach prizes to motivate your followers to participate. Just ensure these contests follow the appropriate guidelines.
- Engage the service of Instagram influencers. Influencers boost your engagements and sales by promoting and recommending your products to their generally large online community.
How to use Facebook to market your cannabis dispensary
- Grow your brand’s community on Facebook. The more followers you have, the more people you can reach. Create and maintain a good and interesting Facebook page for your dispensary.
- Figure out what your Facebook community likes and tailor your marketing efforts to those areas. Tools such as analytics can help you analyze posts and contents and how your audience reacts to them. From there, you can gain insight on the kind of content worth pushing to keep your followers interested.
- Educate your Facebook audience on the relevance of your products and other tips they need. You can capture this in informational posts. Be sure to keep them short and precise.
- Just like Twitter and Instagram, many social media users log in to cool off and have fun. You can leverage fun posts and memes to boost your brand awareness and reach your target audience.
- Ensure you are aware of Facebook's marketing policies to avoid violating the regulations for cannabis marketing on facebook.
How to use LinkedIn to market your cannabis dispensary
- LinkedIn is renowned as a professional community and marketplace. Posting factual, informational posts about cannabis and its derivatives may attract the right audience to you.
- Locate reputable dispensary-affiliated organizations and entities on LinkedIn and connect with them.
- You can organize virtual programs on LinkedIn to sensitize your connections on cannabis-related matters. This also improves your brand awareness.
5 - Try paid ads to market your dispensary.
Paid ads, or PPC (pay per click) is a powerful way to market a cannabis retail store. It is mainly used to generate inorganic traffic to product websites to boost engagement and sales. Paid ads can be very useful for businesses that don’t have enough online presence and reputation to attract organic visitors as yet.
You can bid for advertising spaces with standard search engines such as Google. When users search keywords related to the products or services you offer, the search engine outputs your sponsored link at the top part of the result page. You pay a certain amount for each click, and how many visitors you convert to purchasing customers then depends on you.
Conduct good research to find out the keywords users search the most about cannabis and dispensaries. Bid for these keywords and optimize your website to ensure a high conversion rate. PPC campaigns may be costly to maintain, but they may prove worthwhile if you employ the right strategies.
6 - Try content marketing for your dispensary.
Content marketing is defined in the oxford dictionary as “a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.” This is a powerful approach to take in the cannabis world, because directly selling your product can be challenging.
When we say, consider content marketing, we mean consider how you can give information to potential buyers, without selling your product directly. A great way to go about this is to create a powerful blog that is shared across platforms - because it provides valuable information to potential clients. Start with a content marketing strategy.
Becoming a helpful resource for people who are looking to jump into, explore, or enjoy the fruits of the cannabis industry makes you a reputable source that people think of when they think - weed.
7 - Use email marketing at your dispensary.
Email marketing can be a powerful digital marketing tool for dispensary marketing, but can also backfire if not done correctly. People hate spam messages and can regard your emails as spam if you mail too frequently or send irrelevant content.
The aim is not just to gather emails in your mail list, but to reach out to the right audience and with the right message. To maximize this strategy, you can add incentives for joining your email list. Ensure you add strategic CTA (Call-To-Action) links or buttons to prompt users to take the right steps.
Strategically save, to spend more on growth.
The goal of using cannabis marketing to showcase your dispensary is of course, to grow your business - but have you considered where you are spending within your business? A powerful way to grow your business, is to invest more into advertising - but to do this you need to have more to spend.
If you are looking to cut costs, or keep more in your pocket, to invest, having a powerful back end system than can help you run your business smoothly is a must. It is paramount that you consider working with a POS company that will help you stay compliant, but also can help you streamline your operations, and save you thousands of dollars when running payroll, or managing your staff.