Here in the cannabis industry, marketing is never to be taken for granted. Cannabis marketing is a constant effort that requires a diverse, well-rounded approach and frequent updates. As the industry grows and changes, the best cannabis marketing strategies also evolve.
In this article, we discuss and model the latest rendition of successful cannabis marketing. A strong cannabis marketing plan will prioritize customer engagement through as many channels as possible. From loyalty programs to SMS text message marketing to strengthening your digital online presence, cannabis companies can always step up their marketing game.
It may be tempting to just dive right in and try to implement any possible marijuana marketing tactic you can think of into your dispensary, trying to see what works and what does not. But doing so can be extremely wasteful and an inefficient use of your hard-earned funds.
Instead, be calculated. Every dispensary is different, meaning what works and what does not work will vary across dispensaries. Often, dispensaries can determine in advance of making any significant investments what will and will not work. For instance, a medical marijuana dispensary’s marketing approach will – and should – look very different from a recreational cannabis dispensary trying to appeal to stoners.
Here is what to think about before determining which marijuana marketing strategies are right for you:
Like every bud, every cannabis brand is unique (awww). While brands may inspire one another, there are no exact replicas.
Before investing in your marketing methods, do your best to define and understand your brand. How do your existing customers see you? What is your appeal to new customers? How would you like to adjust those perceptions, if at all?
Only once your brand identity has been determined can you invest in growing your brand awareness.
Marijuana dispensaries are also diverse in the competition they face. Every market is different, a fact formed by the different laws and licensing found in each state. Accordingly, your cannabis advertising and marketing tactics will vary based on the facts of your local market.
Research your competition. What are they best at? What are they poor at?
When confronting competition, there are a number of approaches. Sometimes, you may want to challenge a competitor’s strong spots head on and try to beat them at it.
Other times, it is best to not invest in competing in their strongest niches. You may end up wasting too many resources for nothing.
Instead, identify where they are lacking and become great at that. This may be in the form digital advertising or online presence, or in in-store amenities and product selection.
Providing where your competition cannot is often a far less risky approach that can yield a much greater return on investment.
With your brand and competition considered, you are likely well-positioned to define your target market and audience. The number of cannabis customers is large and growing every day. As such, it is important to consider your marijuana business through an honest lens so you can target people as effectively as possible.
Try and determine which marketing methods are right for you in order to maximize your sales and number of customers. For some dispensaries, the best marketing tactics are those that simply reach the widest range of people possible. These dispensaries are positioned to cast a wide net and have good reason to believe that their dispensary appeals to just about anybody interested in cannabis.
Other dispensaries, however, understand that their best marijuana marketing approach should be geared to appealing to a specific group of people who they are positioned well to capture. For these dispensaries, casting a wide net – while tempting – can be premature and lead to very few customer engagements through their marketing methods.
While it is not always black-and-white which type of dispensary your cannabis company belongs to, it is important to allocate your resources with your target audience in mind. A strong model may have you putting most of your cannabis advertising and marketing resources into cornering specific subgroups of potential customers. Meanwhile, you use a minority of your resources to target a wide audience, thereby keeping your cannabis brand relevant in the greater competition.
In the following sections, we take a look at some of the marketing strategies worth considering in the development of your marketing plan.
We start with loyalty rewards programs because they are simply a no-brainer for dispensaries to implement into their business and marketing. For those new to it, loyalty marketing essentially rewards your most loyal and highest-spending customers in a way that increases your sales while giving customers access to exclusive offers. A total win-win arrangement.
Loyalty programs are so effective because they interact with customers at all tiers of spending and visit frequencies. For your highest spenders, exclusive offers are unlocked which ensure their business remains in your dispensary. Meanwhile, for lower and less frequent spenders, the principle still applies. These customers will continue bringing their business to your dispensary as they are incentivized to keep their purchases within the same dispensary.
In short, when customers are building toward a certain reward or level, they are more likely to both keep their business with your dispensary and to make more purchases in pursuit of the reward. Loyal customers are the best customers.
Look no further than springbig’s loyalty rewards program, the cannabis industry’s leading rewards program. With our point-per-dollar model, expect an increase in sales and a R.O.I. in no time. You can learn more here.
One of the enduring effects of the COVID pandemic is the increased significance of online marketing and sales. While much of the cannabis industry went online in order to address the needs of the pandemic, there is good reason to believe much of it will stay there. It seems many cannabis consumers prefer the convenience of online ordering, whether for pickup at the dispensary or delivery.
Online dispensary marketing has a number of aspects, and the importance of each will vary based on the details and circumstances of your dispensary. However, every dispensary should make sure to develop at least some presence within each. The question is only how much you should invest into each, a question only your brand can answer.
Let’s take a look at some of these online marijuana marketing tools.
More so than ever, your website is your brand’s greatest representative. It is home to most of your potential customers’ first impressions of your business, and a customer might only ever use your website when shopping at your dispensary.
Few totally overlook their dispensary website, but far too many overlook the marketing potential it has. It is far easier to drive traffic to your website than it is to your storefront, so, in a sense, you should think about your website as a virtual storefront. A positive and seamless customer experience is essential to an in-person shopping experience. The same holds true with your website. Investing in your website’s customer experience is not something to be neglected in your marketing plan.
A great website will be easy to navigate, easy to use, well-organized, and engaging. A customer may arrive to your website with a specific task in mind – such as reviewing your address and hours or placing an order – or they may just be browsing. Your website must be ready to receive both types of visitors.
Information about your dispensary should be easy to locate and kept up to date. Incorrect or difficult to find information is a huge red flag for customers. Further, your dispensary menu should be organized, easily accessible, and minimize the steps required to go from viewing the menu to finalizing an order. Simplicity drives sales.
Investing in your website, from its presentation and aesthetic to its content, is key to dispensary success. However, without visitors and web traffic, your beautiful website will cause you little good. In the next section, we discuss two ways to increase your website traffic.
Search engine optimization (usually shorthanded to SEO) and maintaining an updated Google My Business profile are two ways to boost your dispensary’s digital presence. Both are oriented toward promoting your dispensary – among all the other options and dispensaries – when a potential customer make a search online.
Let’s take a look at a brief overview of each, including some examples.
As we describe in more depth in our crash course to dispensary SEO, whenever search engines process a search, they index the results according to what the search engine thinks is most relevant to the searcher. The higher on the search result, the more relevant the result is believed to be and the more clicks it will generate.
With SEO, you can curate your website so that it can appear as high on the search results as possible. So, for example, when someone searches “best cannabis dispensaries in the bay area,” a strong SEO strategy will increase your chances of being one of the first results.
SEO can be implemented in many ways. You may use SEO within content marketing (discussed further below) or just in your website’s design and word choice. Either way, it is often a worthwhile effort to boost your standing on search engines like Google.
Speaking of Google, posting and updating Google My Business is essential. In short, Google My Business manages businesses’ listings on Google Maps and on Google snippets. One type of snippet is the Google assembled results that often feature on the top of a location-based search. For example, see below for the search “dispensary near downtown seattle.”
The results shown are chosen based on Google My Business profiles and sorted based on what Google believes to be the most relevant result. Other search engines have similar features, but none are as powerful a marketing strategy as Google.
Social media can be a powerful piece of effective marijuana marketing strategies, but it does come with its limitations. As discussed in this article on compliance in cannabis advertising, social media platforms have host of restrictions that limit the scope of what a cannabis business can do. Paid cannabis ads and directly promoting sales are usually not allowed across any social media platforms, even for medical cannabis. Nevertheless, social media platforms remain powerful tools for engaging customers and developing a community around your brand.
Do not discount social media, especially because of how cheaply you can create a wide community around your brand and social media accounts and easily reach a segmented audience. However, do not consider social media posts to be a replacement for other more-effective marketing communications methods, such as SMS marketing. For more advice on developing your social media cannabis marketing strategy, check out this article on how to make your dispensary stand out on social media.
Content marketing is a broad term used to describe the use of content – including anything from blogs to videos and memes – to promote your brand. Usually, content marketing has a specific target audience, which can be reached using anything from email to social media.
Content marketing is especially valuable for its ability to meaningfully define and differentiate your brand. Your content will be unlike any other dispensary, making it especially memorable for your customers and target audience. Check out our guide to cannabis content marketing to discover how you can integrate an effective content marketing strategy into your dispensary.
With springbig’s marketing suite, cannabis content marketing is made easy, with automatically segmented audiences allowing your content to reach the best possible target audience.
A feature of cannabis sales that exploded during COVID and is unlikely to fade, e-commerce platforms have become a central piece of any successful cannabis marketing strategy. Dispensary e-commerce provides valuable data on your customers, from their tastes to their spending habits, that allow you to better target them in future digital marketing promotions and communications.
As it relates to your marketing strategy, think of e-commerce as less of a marketing tool itself than a driver of your overall marketing approach. The data gathered through e-commerce can enhance your digital marketing efforts across the board. As such, make sure your e-commerce platform is as good and simple to use as it can be.
One way to turn the data and insights from your e-commerce platform into actual marketing and sale results is springbig. Springbig integrates into the leading e-commerce platforms – so you can actually turn your data into sales.
Perhaps the best way to reach a segmented audience of cannabis consumers, text message SMS marketing is a surprisingly effective way to take your marijuana marketing performance to the next level. Text messages are so effective because they have an open-rate much higher than any other form of marijuana marketing communications and can often avoid complications due to compliance (such as when it is done through springbig).
In your text messages to customers, you can choose to include almost anything. You may advertise special promotions or offers, share news about your dispensary, or engage your customers in a survey. The versatility of a text message marijuana marketing campaign is precisely what makes it so effective.
Cannabis businesses are increasingly turning to springbig to manage their text message marketing because of springbig’s industry-leading reach and ability for dispensary owners to customize down to the last detail. You can learn more about springbig’s SMS messaging here.
The cannabis industry is unlike any other. From its legal circumstance to its rate of change, any cannabis business owner knows very well just how unusual the cannabis industry can be. More so than most industries, difference can be rewarded. Many successful dispensary marketing campaigns are built on the premise that the dispensary being marketed offers something different than the cannabis companies that make up their competition.
Too often, dispensary owners, especially those new to the industry, see a successful local dispensary and try to replicate its business model. While this may be a lower risk approach, it offers little chance of taking their dispensary to greater heights of success.
While technologically optimized digital marketing solutions have become common – and even necessary – many dispensaries forget about more traditional advertising methods that are still surprisingly successful in marijuana marketing. These more traditional marketing techniques range from word of mouth marketing to partnerships with other local businesses.
Word-of-mouth marketing remains the single most trustworthy marketing strategy, as customers always trust their friends and families recommendations more than online advice or paid advertisements. Promotions run with like-minded local businesses – such as discounts in one when a customer shops in the other – can grow community awareness in a unique way. And billboards are guaranteed to reach the eyes of locals (although stay compliant!).
The bottom line is this: while developing your dispensary marketing strategy, do not neglect the many potential cannabis customers and consumers who may not be reachable through an exclusively digital marketing strategy.
Your marijuana marketing approach should be designed to reach the most eyes possible. While a dynamic digital marketing strategy is the most important feature of your overall marketing approach, a traditional non-digital strategy that encourages word-of-mouth is an important addition that is far too often overlooked.
Whichever way you go about designing your marijuana marketing plan, springbig’s marketing suite can help. With springbig’s marketing suite, you can take your dispensary marketing strategy to the next level. From our loyalty rewards program to our SMS text message communications platform, adopting springbig is great not only for developing your brand but for boosting your sales almost overnight.
With our very own compliance suite, which ensures your marijuana marketing promotions and advertising are all compliant with local, state, and federal regulations, you no longer need to stress over whether or not your marketing strategy is compliant and up-to-date with the constantly changing legal landscape. We are also constantly innovating, as the industry demands we do. From mobile apps to even better marketing automation, integrating springbig into your marketing strategies is not something to delay.
CEO and Co-founder of springbig