dispensary marketing plan

Tips for Making a Dispensary Marketing Plan

Entering the cannabis industry can be an intimidating and scary venture. With uncertainty at every corner and with the laws and regulations governing the industry changing constantly, opening up a dispensary requires a person with courage, optimism, and patience. Even the process of applying for a license can be complicated, but that doesn’t mean opening and running a successful cannabis business is impossible. With the right plan and with the right people to help you along the way, it’s more than possible to run a successful cannabis dispensary.

  1. Reach Your Customers
  2. Engage Your Customers
  3. Retain Your Customers

To ensure your dispensary’s success, you’ll need an efficient dispensary marketing strategy tailored specifically to the cannabis industry. The cannabis industry is an intimidating one to enter, and one of the reasons for that is that even the way you market in the industry is different from other industries. Many traditional marketing channels do not allow cannabis to be marketed through them such as search engine marketing on Google or social media marketing on Facebook. So, even if you have marketed in other industries you’ll have to learn how to adapt your marketing tactics to the cannabis industry.

Here at springbig we understand just how intimidating the industry can be, so we decided to put together a guide to dispensary marketing. The following will consist of 3 simple steps that if you follow are bound to get your dispensary off the ground and customers coming through your doors.

First, we will discuss how to reach your customers by building your brand name and advertising through local channels. Second, we’ll talk about customer engagement and touch on things like text message marketing, social media, and customer experience. Last, we’ll talk about customer retention and touch yet again on text message marketing along with the benefits of loyalty and referral programs.

But, before we can do any of that there is something you must do before jumping into your marketing plan.

Understand your target customer segments

Before you start developing your marketing plan, you should have an archetypal image of the people you’re marketing to. Are you a medical marijuana dispensary targeting medical patients? Well, then your marketing plan will look a lot different from a recreational dispensary’s marketing plan.

This is because you are targeting different customer segments. Deciding which customer segments you’ll be targeting will depend a lot on what you want your brand image to be. On top of this, the customer segments you are targeting will likely change over time as you leverage data to identify more specific customer segments. 

Overall, when it comes to segmentation, the STP model is a great place to start.

Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning

The STP (Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning) model is an audience-focused approach for communicating with and advertising to potential and established customers. In this, the STP model can help you not only better communicate and advertise to your existing customers and customer segments, but it can also help you find new customer segments and niche markets that present your business with new or different opportunities for sales and growth.

Segmentation is the base of the whole process because without customer segments, you can’t target specific segments and you can’t position yourself in relation to your main target segment or segments.

Targeting is the second step, and while you’ll most likely have a number of different customer segments, to start you’ll likely want to focus on one or just a few so as not to get overwhelmed. That is not to say that you should disregard other segments, but to be as effective as possible you can’t put all your effort into all of them at once.

The last step is positioning. Market position refers to the process of framing your brand so that it is appealing to your target customer segments and so that your customers associate your brand to be in the same category as other popular brands in the same niche. In this, it is important that you focus heavily on what separates your brand from the rest.

For a full breakdown of this model, and to learn about how springbig can help you segment your customers, read the whole article on segmentation!

Once you have decided which customer segments you’ll be looking to attract, you’re ready to learn the ins and outs of dispensary marketing.

Step 1: Reach your customers

The first step in creating an effective dispensary marketing plan is to reach and connect with your customers. To do this, you’ll want to do two main things: Build your brand and advertise.

Build your brand

In building your brand, there are a few key things that you’ll want to do to get your name out there so that customers can find you. Namely, we’ll be discussing the importance of creating a functional website, creating content, SEO, and utilizing Google My Business.

Building a functional and professional-looking website will arguably be the most important step you take in building your cannabis brand as it will be many of your customers’ first impressions of your dispensary. But building a website isn’t just about making it look pretty, you want it to be functional which means a working menu where they can view your products and order them online, deals, about pages, and an option to opt-in to receive either text or email marketing. If your business is more developed, you’ll want to make sure that your website is functional with your loyalty program so customers can track the status of their rewards and redeem points online.

Creating content, or content marketing is another important step you’ll take in building your brand which consists of your dispensary putting out relevant content for your customers or future customers to view such as blogs, social media posts, and videos. In this, you’ll want to be producing useful content that helps customers solve their problems or answer their questions, which will in turn create profitable customer action.

In creating content you’ll also want to make sure that you are taking advantage of search engine optimization which is the process of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic you get to your website through search engine results. To do this you’ll want to utilize SEO tools that help you target keywords to include in your posts or blogs that will help your content appear more towards the top of a Google or Bing search.

Utilizing Google My Business is another small but important step in legitimizing your brand and making it easier for potential customers to find you. For many, the first thing they do when they want to know more about a business is google it. Making sure your business appears when they google your dispensary’s name with its locations, hours of operation, and a link to the website is key to making sure you get as much traffic to your website and dispensary as possible.

Retail Advertising

The next step in reaching your customers is to create brand awareness by advertising to them via local, digital, and influencer marketing channels. The cannabis industry is unfortunately barred from many traditional advertising channels, so you may have to get creative here or resort to time-tested marketing strategies.

Local marketing refers to a marketing campaign within your dispensary’s local community. That means reaching out to local businesses, making sure your Google My Business is set up and making sure you are included in the local business listings. You may even want to look into things such as reaching out to other local businesses given they are 420-friendly, billboard ads, or even local radio ads.

When it comes to digital marketing, you’ll want to look into things such as text message marketing, native ads, or pay-per-click ads on 420-friendly websites. Text message marketing, which we will discuss more in-depth in the customer engagement section, is an extremely effective marketing technique that boasts extremely impressive stats such as a 98% open rate. With springbig, you can fully automate your text message marketing campaigns and target specific customer segments, all while having access to live data that track the efficacy of your text message marketing campaigns. When it comes to native ads and pay-per-click ads you’ll want to take out ads on 420-friendly websites such as Dope Magazine or High Times, or you may even want to use a platform that specializes in digital marketing such as Mantis.

Influencer marketing will be another important part of your advertising strategy which consists of recruiting customers with a decent social media presence or reaching out to potential customers and asking them to promote your business in return for free products, compensation, or both depending on the scale of their reach. This has become an extremely popular form of advertisement in the past couple of years, maybe because studies show that businesses make on average $5.20 for every 1$ spent on influencer marketing. Lucky for you, through springbig you can generate unique links that enable your customers to become influencers for your business.

Advertising for cannabis brands

If you are a cannabis brand looking to make a name for yourself but you’re struggling to find effective direct-to-consumer marketing channels, then you may want to consider taking advantage of brands by springbig which gives cannabis brands access to springbig’s database of over 20 million customer phone numbers that brands can advertise to directly via a partnership with any of springbig’s current dispensary clients.

Step 2: Engage with your customers

Once you’ve got your customers’ attention and they’re either in your store or on your website, you want to ensure that you engage with them effectively and in a way that makes them want to come back again and again. To do this, it is important to utilize text message marketing and social media platforms all while ensuring that your customers’ experiences online and in-store are exceptional.

Text message marketing

Text message marketing is the most powerful form of marketing for cannabis dispensaries and also one of the most important steps you’ll take in increasing your levels of customer engagement. As we discussed above, text message marketing campaigns boast a 98% open rate, with 90% of those messages being opened within the first three minutes of them being sent. Studies have even shown that text message marketing has a 209% higher response rate than email or Facebook marketing. It’s safe to say that almost everyone has a cell phone on them at all times of the day, so it’s clear to see why text message marketing is so effective.

springbig specializes in all things text message marketing, and throughout our platform, you can take full advantage of all the benefits that text message marketing has to offer and more. With autoconnects you can automate messages from welcome messages to daily deals to after-visit texts, it can all be automated through springbig. You can even use text messages within your dispensary’s loyalty program or to enable your customers to become influencers for your business. Want to learn more about text message marketing? Read our other blogs about it here.

Social media

The next important step in improving our customer engagement is to make sure that you are active and always striving to build your following through social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. By doing this, you increase your chances of being found online while also ensuring that you show up in your customer’s feed at lead once or twice a week.

While the payoffs from this may be slow at first, if you are persistent with your social media strategy, successful in building a substantial following, and able to encourage your customers to share you on their socials, then you could see big payoffs with some patience and hard work.

Exceptional customer experience

No matter how good your brand appears to be online and no matter how much you spend on advertisements, nothing compares to a quality customer experience both online and in-store.

A quality customer experience online means making sure that your website is optimized for both desktop and mobile use. Not only that, but you’ll want to make sure that the online user experience is visually appealing and easy to navigate, meaning you’ll want to spend adequate time on building your website and app.

In-store, it is important that your budtenders are well versed in all things cannabis so that they can educate and communicate effectively with each customer who walks through your doors. With this, it is important that your dispensary is visually appealing and your products are easy to find. Above all else, it is imperative to ensure that your dispensary provides exceptional customer service and quality products that keep customers coming back for more.

Step 3: Retain your customers

Now that you have successfully reached and engaged with your customers, you’ll want to make sure that you retain your customers. Customer retention is vital to the success of any business and is actually cheaper than attracting new customers. Studies show that retaining a customer is 5 times cheaper than bringing in a new one, and lucky for you here at springbig our CRM software can help you maximize your customer retention rates.

Text message marketing

As we stated earlier, text message marketing is an extremely powerful form of marketing, especially when it comes to using it through springbig’s platform. With springbig, you can do more with your text message campaigns. With our CRM software, you can use our win-back autoconnect to “win back” customers who haven’t visited your dispensary for a while, and you can even use text messages to engage customers in your loyalty or referral programs which are other extremely important things to have in order to retain customers.

Loyalty programs

Loyalty programs are crucial to any dispensary’s effort to retain customers. If done right, loyalty programs can encourage customers to keep spending more money and coming back to your dispensary. With a base of loyal customers like these, you are sure to see your business grow and develop quickly. According to studies, improving customer retention rates by just 5% has the potential to boost profits up to 95%. With power like this, it would be a shame to put off setting up a loyalty program at your dispensary.

We published an article a while back talking about the 5 best ways to promote your dispensary loyalty program, but in case you didn’t read it, just know that not all loyalty programs are created equal. To avoid your loyalty program falling short, it is best to make sure your loyalty program includes the following: tiers, a referral program, a points-per-dollar rewards system, text message marketing, mobile optimization, and automation.

Each aspect is important in its own way. Tiers are crucial when it comes to keeping your customers engaged and giving them a sense of progression within the program. A referral program within the loyalty program enables your customers to bring more customers to you in return for rewards or in-store points. A points-per-dollar reward program is important because it has been shown to encourage customers to spend more on each visit in order to get rewards. Text message marketing and mobile optimization are key because it allows your customers to experience a seamless cross-platform experience, and automation allows you to focus on growing your business while all of this takes place automatically.

Through springbig, you can effectively carry out all five of these aspects that are crucial to running a successful loyalty program. From mobile optimization to referral programs to the points-per-dollar system and automation, it is all possible through springbig. Want to learn more about loyalty programs? Read our other article here.

Referral programs

Like we said above, referral programs are crucial to getting the most out of your dispensary and out of your dispensary’s loyalty program. Referral programs have proven themselves to be extremely effective, with low initial investment and high returns referral programs boast the highest ROI of any other form of marketing. What’s more, is that customers referred by friends via a referral program are 25% more profitable on average than other customers.

With springbig’s Budz, you can take advantage of all the benefits that referral programs have to offer. Budz’s unique referral links for each customer and easy-to-understand analytics help you track the efficacy of your referral program while also allowing you to keep track of each respective referral so that you can reward those customers who are bringing new customers into your shop.

When it comes to referral marketing, there are a few guidelines to follow to make sure you’re making the most of it. You’ll want to strike while the iron is hot, which means not waiting around to ask your customers to join the program, and you’ll also want to create incentives with desirable rewards that encourage your customer to refer their friends. Want to learn more about referral marketing? Read our other article here about our referral program platform: Budz.

If you are able to stick to the above steps and make them work for your dispensary, then you are sure to grow your business more than most cannabis companies. Lucky for you, springbig is here to help you every step of the way from reaching your customers to engaging with them and retaining them, springbig can help you with all your dispensary marketing needs. Even without help, it is important that you take what has been said here and make it your own because nothing beats a unique brand with a one-of-a-kind customer experience.


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