The legal cannabis market is expected to hit a whopping $66.3 billion by 2025. However, it’s also a time of consolidations, acquisitions, more vertical integration and generally, a competitive, somewhat fragmented market.
Marketing in and to the cannabis industry comes with a long list of challenges. With restrictions on social media advertising, pay-per-click advertising, and more, many traditional tactics aren’t available or need to be done a different way.
However, if you’re willing to work with the right talent and be patient, we use these marketing tactics for our clients in the cannabis industry everyday.
Use Social Media – the Right Way
Social media is crucial for marketing your business in today’s world. In fact, a recent eMarketer report found every generation is active on social media: 90.4% of Millennials, 77.5% of Generation X and 48.2% of Baby Boomers utilize the platforms in some manner.
While many in the industry have grown very large and engaged audiences, cannabis is still considered an illicit substance by the federal government and certain states – so there are a lot of rules about what you can and cannot say and show. For instance, FTC guidelines have led Instagram – the most popular platform right now for cannabis companies – to shut down accounts for improperly disclosing or advertising their cannabis products.
One option is to ensure someone at your company is very familiar with the guidelines and can keep you out of trouble. Another option is to partner with a social marketing team that’s familiar with these regulations and can help your company flourish – online and offline.
Embrace PR Opportunities
Effective public relations campaigns drive awareness and credibility on a large scale. The cannabis industry is ripe with opportunities as there are dozens of cannabis-specific media outlets. In addition, awards and rankings seem to pop up daily, and new professional and advocacy associations are located in virtually every cannabis-legal state. Also – the trade show circuit draws tens of thousands of eager industry insiders. The trick is to identify a path that works with your company’s resources, budget and goals. And in order to take advantage of PR, you need to have a story to tell and/or be creating events that are media worthy in your geographic area. Television coverage for a grand opening and ribbon cutting? Your press release published in national and industry publications? Speaker at an industry event? It just takes a little bit of creativity and diligence.
Network at Cannabis Industry Events
The conference and events circuit in the cannabis industry is thriving as more businesses seek out best practices to navigate this evolving industry. Such events provide critical intel and education while offering business leaders an opportunity to network and meet customers and partners face-to-face. While the industry has grown, it’s still a tight-knit community in many ways. It’s very possible to generate great leads and sales at in-person events, including trade shows and conferences.
Depending on what you’re looking to accomplish, you can sponsor, exhibit or simply attend. And you can choose from national, regional or even local events with the nearest cannabis industry association. The point is to get out there and get noticed and make contacts. Be sure you look the part with logo shirts, relevant promo items if you exhibit, a great looking display, well designed collateral material and more.
Your Own Events
Many companies have success hosting their own events. Depending on the type of product or service you sell, hosting in-person and online events could help you generate, nurture, and convert leads as well. Events can be in-person at your location, in conjunction with a conference or even a series of online webinars. Just be sure to keep it informational – no one wants to attend just a sales pitch.
Hone Your Content
Because it’s still relatively new for a lot of people, you have opportunities to dispel myths or misinterpretations regarding cannabis and related products. A strong content marketing strategy can boost your company’s thought leadership, enhance your website’s SEO, educate the greater market and gently encourage leads toward a purchase.
Your company’s blog is the foundation of your content marketing strategy. The writing must be high quality and informative and be published on your blog on a consistent basis. It must be something that you want to link to in your social media and/or email marketing. Have a lot to share about your particular niche? Consider case studies, white papers or even ebooks. You should also add video to the mix, as many consumers turn to video to understand complex topics, be entertained or simply get to know you and your company better. Algorithms also favor them, so they need to be part of your mix.
Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing tactics today, and for BtoB cannabis industry marketing, it’s absolutely essential. The key is to build a targeted opt-in list of email addresses for people who are likely to be interested in your products or services.
How can you build it? Offer a free ebook, worksheet, or checklist and promote it on your social media channels and through advertising. In order to get the freebie, people need to give you their email address. However, it’s important that the free item attracts your target audience and they perceive it as valuable enough to trade for their email addresses.
Lists can also be custom generated, but be wary of the source. Nug curates custom lists for clients for their exclusive use, and each contact goes through extensive testing to ensure it’s opted-in and relevant for your product or service.
Paid emails are also a possibility through media outlets or other means, and when potential customers open your email, then you are able to continue to market to them.
Ramp up Your SEO
Do a Google search on your company and/or brand name. What comes up in the first page or two of results? Are those results what you want prospective customers to see?
Your online footprint is critical to establish trust in your brand and your business. Is this company real? Is this company trustworthy? Who is behind this company?
If you don’t have an online presence that accurately tells your brand story and instantly instills a sense of trust, then you need to start building a more effective digital footprint immediately. That includes the more than 60 online directories that are available to you including Google My Business, Yelp, Yahoo and even voice-activated search engines like Alexa.
Not only does your digital footprint matter for first impressions, but it’s also essential to keep your brand actively on people’s radar. Your online communications and activity can lead to inquiries, word-of-mouth marketing, and sales.