The cannabis industry isn’t for the faint of heart and neither is dispensary marketing. Beginning with its legal compliance requirements, growing in the cannabis market is full of challenges. From cannabis-specific laws that differ from state to state to general regulations like the HIPAA, TCPA, and CCPA, cannabis businesses will need to ensure that they are ready to navigate the legal obstacle course ahead. As a cannabis business, you need to be light, agile, and efficient with your marketing strategies and budget spending, so choosing the right ROI-generating tech stack is essential.
Cannabis marketing in 2022 comes with its own regulations, beyond the law, because many advertising channels that are traditionally available in other spaces are unavailable to the cannabis industry, and even certain portions of the medical cannabis and CBD pain management industry.
In this guide, we’ll teach cannabis businesses how to set up effective digital marketing strategies, and to advertise their cannabis business through a strategic marketing approach conducive to continued growth and development, all without the need for a third-party cannabis marketing agency. We’ll show you how to re-engage past clients, take your cannabis advertising to the next level and expand your dispensary business. Retail cannabis is no easy feat, combining a minefield of compliance and competitive pitfalls, so let springbig help show you the path to success.
Let’s begin by discussing some of the industry’s laws and restrictions that you’ll face in the industry, such as gathering consented customer information and keeping it. We will then explore a number of different marketing channels, namely:
As a cannabis dispensary, you should be focused not only on bringing in new customers, you must retain the ones you already have. You will need a dynamic and creative effort to distinguish your company’s services from the rest of the crowded market.
That is our specialty. Keeping an existing customer is 5 to 25 times less expensive than marketing to a new one. But how? With a loyalty program tailored to your cannabis brand and target audience, you can incentivize their repeat business.
Loyalty programs are a vital part of any effective cannabis marketing plan. Effective cannabis loyalty programs work due to the 80/20 rule. Where 80% of your revenue is coming from 20% of your customers.
Unfortunately, many programs fall short, one study found that 53% of customers have abandoned a loyalty program in the past year. So how can you prevent this?
This should be another staple in your cannabis advertising strategy because it allows you to communicate with your loyal members in the fastest and most cost-effective way possible. SMS messaging is the preferred method of business communication for 90% of people.
With customer journey mapping, for instance, springbig enables you to use dozens of behavior-based automated triggers to create a demographic segmentation of your customer base.
With autoconnects, you can integrate your CRM and marketing automation to drive more leads and reach your
target audience, at all the perfect moments. Automated dynamic field marketing communication allows more personalization in cannabis marketing messages. Allowing you to include your client’s first name, their favorite location, and even some of their favorite products in your marketing campaign.
Tools like Brands by springing can help you most out of each text marketing campaign. Brands by springbig is an especially powerful feature of springbig which allows cannabis brands to pivot from their B2B marketing efforts to a direct-to-consumer cannabis marketing strategy by connecting brands with springbig’s community of over 50 million consumers. Brands can scan for dispensaries moving their products much like search results and directly connect with them to collaborate and create dispensary partners. Forget B2B, true D2C marketing for cannabis companies is here.
Possibly the biggest challenge that comes with cannabis retail is legal issues and ensuring that you are compliant. Laws can target everything from data storage, as with the FCC’s TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) and the HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Make sure you are well aware of all the state and municipal laws in your area.
However, social media marketing for a cannabis dispensary is difficult, but not impossible. Many platforms, especially Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram have extremely harsh policies regarding what can be advertised on their platforms and often outright target cannabis companies for bans.
If you are running social media campaigns, try driving the traffic off-platform toward online customer reviews or customer testimonials, aiding your view from search engines while eluding to direct cannabis content. You can also drive traffic to your website or e-commerce platform to ultimately bolster your sales and dispensary marketing efficiency. Dispensary owners are not ignoring this vital marketing medium, even with all the hurdles, and entrants into the market cannot ignore it either.
Cannabis is still federally illegal, meaning that most major media and tech properties will not touch any related cannabis ads.
Now, it is time to talk about which channels to prioritize in your digital marketing strategy, especially in the wake of COVID-19, which has had drastic effects on the cannabis market and consumer behavior.
Approaches to cannabis marketing can vary. We’ll start by talking about one of the most effective marketing tactics in the cannabis industry: loyalty marketing.
We have spent years building and perfecting cannabis product marketing tools specifically designed for the cannabis industry. Our full toolkit of compliance solutions ensures your dispensary is compliant no matter your location.
Our most powerful feature for keeping cannabis companies out of legal trouble and focused on the development and growth of their company is 360 permissions.
With 360 permissions, you’ll have access to a full suite of intuitive compliance tools designed specifically for the cannabis industry and all relevant laws. From a customizable join form that can be accessed on your website or point of sale, to the ability to join by texting a dedicated number, tapping an NFC chip, and or scanning a QR code. Most importantly our e-sig app for collecting digital signatures and consent to market to your audience through whichever channel they choose.
This type of program is another extremely important marketing strategy for any company. They allow you to tap into the value of trusted word-of-mouth marketing channels between both current and potential customers. If your retail cannabis dispensaries brand has enough flair, you can even see organic traffic accelerate exponentially.
These programs boast the highest ROI of any other marketing strategy. With a referral program, you can enable your existing customers to work for you by bringing in new customers through trackable links they can share anywhere to promote your cannabis brand. According to Wharton, referred customers are 25% more profitable. Referred customers are also much more likely to become and remain, loyal customers.
springbig creates a digital referral program for your dispensary with Budz. Customers turn into influencers with unique referral links. With intuitive analytics to help you track the effectiveness of your referral program, Budz is an essential addition to any cannabis retail dispensary marketing.
Social media marketing is one of the most contemporary marketing strategies that is truly misunderstood in today’s cannabis market, but too often dispensary marketing owners lean on it as their main marketing medium.
One of the biggest challenges of cannabis marketing is the wide variety of advertising restrictions.
Social media platforms often have harsh policies regarding the advertisement of cannabis products, even CBD. So avoiding the use of any cannabis-related keywords is essential if you are going to attempt to use these platforms.
Similar policies exist with TV or other mass cannabis marketing tactics and typically apply to the entire industry, including medical marijuana companies and even CBD.
Luckily, savvy cannabis marketing online isn’t impossible, and there are great ways for a cannabis brand to evolve and prioritize its social media management tools despite the regulations.
Some clever marketers can get their message across without overtly mentioning it, like this ad with BIC lighters, Snoop Dogg and Marth Stewart. A perfect example of using brand ambassadors, ambiguity, and intelligent marketing, not to mention humor to create a lasting impression on consumers.
Other marketing tactics like email marketing strategies and SMS can reach your target audience of mostly older demographics much more effectively and consistently. Dispensary marketing strategies should be looked at holistically, meaning that your local market is made up of a mixed demographic of people. Their budgets, spending tendencies, and mediums to which they engage with their consumers all differ, so understanding that and using an omnichannel solution to target your audience with the medium they prefer is essential.
Cannabis dispensaries can still benefit greatly from social media activity. The most important platforms for cannabis dispensaries to have in today’s world are Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin, with a focus on the latter for B2B and the other mediums for B2C marketing.
While it is important that your customers are able to find you on whatever platform they frequent, Instagram has emerged as the most effective, so ensure it is one of the pillars of your marketing plan.
The following will go into depth about organic cannabis marketing on Instagram since ads are not allowed.
nstagram allows you to grow your community and develop a distinct voice for your cannabis brand with an interactive comment section and eye-catching graphics, visuals, and video directly on mobile devices. It’s important to note here that your goal isn’t to increase sales on Instagram but to build awareness. With more awareness (and some patience) the sales will come.
While it holds huge potential, social media cannabis marketing is risky because of all the aforementioned restrictions. Testing brand ambassadors is also slightly risky, as they could potentially be reiterating your brand message to a non-compliant age demographic. So keep up with the latest news on policies toward cannabis companies.
Building cannabis brands on Instagram can be difficult but can have huge pay-offs. As much as Facebook tries to keep the cannabis industry out, here are 6 tips to keep you in;
Your bio will be the first introduction people have to your page, it should stand out and adhere to the voice you choose for your brand, but you want to make sure you don’t mention cannabis, weed, marijuana, or any other variant.
Your bio should also mention that your material is for users 21+ to adhere to Instagram’s guidelines.
If your account somehow gets deleted, you lose all of those followers and your entire investment, so it is best to try to take your subscribers off of Instagram and make their text or email marketing recipients.
Audience engagement is crucial, so it is always good practice to try to respond to as many as possible and keep customers informed of the latest news.
Your followers or subscribers won’t stick around if you aren’t consistent or relevant. Make a plan to stay on top of your social media strategy, including posting regularly. Again, you don’t need a marketing agency to accomplish this. There are a variety of tools like sprout social that will enable you to plan and automate your posting schedule far into the future.
Instagram specifically states that selling or attempting to sell drugs (including CBD) on the platform is against it’s terms of service.
As we’ve written about before, e-commerce must be prioritized, especially in 2022. As the cannabis industry has matured, demand for online ordering and delivery options has skyrocketed. Dispensary marketing and your customer journey must incorporate this facet, or fail to compete with those who do.
So, how do you meet these demands? First, make sure you’re easily found on all of the cannabis industry’s biggest e-commerce websites. including Jane, Dutchie, IHeartJane, and Weedmaps. These may slightly differ from state to state, so when doing this, make sure you’re prioritizing the right platforms. Perform a marketing analysis of whichever platform you choose to monitor conversion events so you can measure the success of your campaigns.
With springbig, your loyalty program rewards and points can be redeemed directly on the industry’s biggest online ordering platforms. This way you can send cart abandonment texts and many other remarketing options.
While, as a cannabis marketer, you may have cast this popular advertising tactic out due to its restrictions, display advertising is actually an extremely open and beneficial channel of quality advertisement that cannabis marketers should be taking advantage of.
According to recent studies, by 2020 businesses will have spent 110 billion on digital advertising in the US, more than TV and print ads combined.
When it comes to digital advertising, general pay-per-click display ads on Google and Facebook are often inaccessible. But there are plenty of sites ranging from sports news to cannabis culture that is CBD and cannabis-friendly, including Huffington Post, Newsweek, Barstool Sports, the Chive, ESPN, Politico, Complex, and USA Today. Meaning large networks of cannabis consumers can still be tapped through dispensary marketing.
If you are looking for a great example inexpensive yet high-value, organic way of marketing and reaching potential customers, then you should consider ramping up content creation, including articles, how-to’s, faqs, and infographics on your blog. Try using a dispensary partner to collaborate and exchange educational information outside of your competition area. This will help you retain customers, re-engage past dispensary customers, and aid digital word-of-mouth marketing under the umbrella of your dispensary marketing plan.
For those who aren’t familiar, content marketing is a search engine optimization (SEO) approach focused on putting out content like blog posts that focus on the relevant keyword searches your audience will search for.
By using an SEO tool you perform keyword research and understand the buzzwords surrounding searches. When customers perform a local search of cannabis businesses on google maps, you’d like to see your name in the top 5 search results at least. Having strong online reviews and a polished digital presence can certainly achieve this goal.
As one of the most inexpensive yet valuable online marketing techniques, content creation is a perfect marketing strategy for anyone on a tight budget. One study found that content marketing costs 62% less than traditional paid content marketing strategies all while generating 3x as many leads.
There are 5 types of content you can start putting out today that can help you generate leads and increase your local SEO ranking
Keep in mind, however, that search engines make their money from paid posts that will appear before any organic content, no matter the quality or number of online reviews. So if you have the budget for SEM (search engine marketing) go for it!. The general rule of thumb is the higher the quality and relevancy of your ad copy the less you pay-per-click. If you don’t see the growth you are looking for try alternative methods of generating more foot traffic.
To make the most of your online cannabis marketing strategy, you should be regularly tracking the analytics of your website against search engines. That means paying attention to website traffic, making sure all content is search engine optimized (SEO), and tracking the analytics of various links you might be sending your base or posting online. Do you need a paid service to accomplish this? Not necessarily.
Google Analytics is a great tool for measuring the success of your website and business development in general. Google Analytics provides actionable insights into your websites’ performance and could help you adapt to the latest marketing trends. With Google Analytics, you’ll be able to analyze your site’s traffic, see where it is coming from, and see who is visiting. All for free!
There are many paid services, agencies, and analytics tools in the space that will provide a simpler easier to understand view of your site performance, but take the time to learn the intricacies of GA and it will surely pay off.
One key example of a GA tracking feature is events. You can get creative on deciding which events are most important to track for your company. It doesn’t just have to be actual purchase events, sharing your site on social media, or an abandoned cart event are just a few examples of valuable secondary events.
Last but not least is local advertising. While it is old-school, cannabis businesses have reignited the flame in local and outdoor advertising. This is largely due to the fact that many other traditional advertising methods of the 21st century have been made off-limits to companies advertising the sale of cannabis. Interactive murals and QR codes on the side of your venue can be great ways to increase foot traffic and exemplify a marriage of old and new advertising methods for your dispensary marketing plan. Live musicians, in-store events, and cannabis consumption areas (Where compliant) can all create an elevated in-store experience that is sure to differentiate you from other competitors.
Fortunately, local cannabis billboard advertising offers a great way to reach your local audience, increase foot traffic and increase word-of-mouth referrals without having to worry about pesky advertisement regulations. From billboards to the side of cars and flyers, local advertising is what really helps to build a local community around your marijuana brand and marketing plans.
Pair this with efforts like text message marketing and customer education events and you are likely to develop a dedicated customer base that drives the majority of your business’s sales.
Try partnering with other local 420-friendly businesses or local influencers that already have a good local base, such as restaurants, bars, or clubs to throw can’t-miss events. Hosting events, whether it be a growing seminar or sampling session, or really anything related to getting to know cannabis better, is a great way to market yourself to the local community by showing you value their opinion and experiences. Additionally, you can add OOH billboard advertising in certain regions of the US to promote your local event and reach more happy customers.
Having a comprehensive account made on Google My Business is important because a large portion of customers will be finding information about your cannabis dispensary through google search.
Importantly, when it comes to promotional material for your marijuana brand, you should try and leave a lasting impression on those who see it. Brand awareness starts with branding, and a picture says 1000 words.
Not only should you have your logo designed and stamped on almost everything you do, but you should also be making graphics for your individual pieces of content. Adobe Photoshop and Canva are both great options depending on your experience and goals.
These beautiful promotional content pieces can be optimized for mobile and sent via MMS. As mobile marketing takes off, cannabis dispensary marketers must be wary of dynamic content resizing and ensuring their ad appears correctly on both web and mobile.
The cannabis industry comes with a multitude of challenges that may make running your medical or retail cannabis business and marketing difficult, but not impossible. With the right strategies, and the right help you can grow your business and reach your goals. Having multiple channels to reach the different demographics of your market can maximize the revenue of your dispensary clients and your marijuana dispensary.
If you are looking for an exclusive tour of how to take your dispensary marketing to the next level register here with springbig, and we’ll show you a free consultation on how you can leverage our industry-leading platform to accelerate customer visit frequency, net basket sizes, and overall brand appreciation.
CEO and Co-founder of springbig