In 2021, owning and operating a marijuana dispensary seems to never have a shortage of daily challenges. With the cannabis industry experiencing record growth and with change happening just about every day, keeping your business on top of its game requires constant effort. In the years ahead, you can expect these changes to continue. More and more dispensaries will pop up, while some will, inevitably, fall off.
In this article, we discuss what you can do to make your dispensary great. Read on to learn how to make sure you are making the most of your opportunity to enjoy the cannabis industry’s growth and putting yourself in a position to succeed.
Your dispensary is more than just a storefront selling cannabis products. It exists within a fast-moving industry, in a space with changing laws and requirements for compliance, and relative to your local competition. Your business and marketing efforts must reflect this in order to make your dispensary great.
A great dispensary will prioritize making itself stand out while also ensuring it is welcoming and attractive to the widest possible audience. It will give plenty of resources to attracting new customers while also nurturing and rewarding its existing customer base. It will offer an unrivaled customer experience and ensure its product selection is diverse and on top of the trends.
In the sections ahead, we take a look at each of these qualities and discuss how you can make your dispensary the best it can possibly be.
Customers’ experiences in your dispensary are where your reputation is actually built. It can make or break whether a new customer becomes a repeat customer, and, when done well, it can lead to exceptionally productive word-of-mouth marketing.
Often, cannabis dispensary owners lose sight of the customers’ journey in their dispensary, as the day-to-day operations become routine. It is important for you to regularly reassess it – in all its details – as if it was your first time seeing it. Sometimes, examine your business as if you are a regular who has been coming for years and, other times, imagine you are a new customer who came to check it out after strolling by.
Let’s break down the components of a versatile dispensary experience:
Nothing leaves as significant an imprint on a shopping experience as the human interactions. Your staff are, effectively, ambassadors to your brand. The way they treat and interact with customers reflects immediately back on your dispensary. Positive interactions with staff members will lead to return visits, strong word-of-mouth reviews, and great online reviews.
Alternatively, negative interactions will have the opposite effect. A single negative exchange or unfriendly customer service will usually be enough to keep a customer’s business elsewhere.
Of course, the bulk of your customers’ interactions with staff occur between them and their budtender. It goes without saying that investing in knowledgeable and friendly budtenders is a must. However, many dispensary owners overlook the importance of other staff. From the employee checking customers in to someone checking IDs at the door, every customer interaction can have serious consequences.
It is essential to be diligent in your hiring process and to keep employee morale and satisfaction up. These two things may just be the cornerstones of ensuring a strong experience for your customers.
Any great dispensary is certain to have an even greater staff enhancing its brand.
Your storefront represents the image your customers most associate with you. Its importance cannot be overlooked. All great dispensaries are certain to have a storefront to match.
Your storefront should accomplish two main things:
First, it should take advantage of foot traffic to draw in new customers. Chances are your dispensary has, on any given day, a number of people who walk or drive by your storefront. The outside should make clear what your business is (uh, you sell cannabis) and cause some intrigue. Display current promotions (such as a “first-time customer discount”) or some of the more interesting products you offer. Be careful to remain compliant!
Second, it should be a positive reflection of your brand. This means it should be regularly maintained, have character, and appeal to your target audience. If your target clientele, for example, are Boomers with a taste for luxury, your storefront should feel sophisticated and somewhat exclusive. On the other hand, if you want to appeal to Millennials and younger people, you should take on a more down-to-earth and charming aesthetic.
One thing is true: a great marijuana dispensary will always have a storefront that excites its customers.
Last but certainly not least, the customer’s shopping experience should be as inviting, engaging, and simple as possible.
This begins at the door with ID checks. Often, potential customers, especially those new to cannabis, are intimidated by the prospect of entering a dispensary. Your job as a dispensary owner is to ease the stress of the experience by making the process simple and inviting – beginning at the door. Avoid intimidating “bouncer” style ID checks.
Once inside, the customer’s next steps should be intuitive, and dispensary staff should be communicative. If there is a wait, it should be clear where the customers should wait. If a budtender is ready to serve them, it should be made obvious who will be helping them. Budtenders should be knowledgable, engaging, and outgoing. Emphasize putting effort into understanding the customer’s needs.
A great cannabis dispensary will ensure its customers have a simple and pleasant experience from ID check through point of sale.
If your storefront is your image, then your digital presence is your brand. Any great cannabis business is sure to have a significant digital presence – from their website to their digital marketing strategy. Let’s take a look at the pieces that make up a great dispensary’s digital existence.
As we often emphasize on our blog, every dispensary should work on having a significant social media presence across multiple platforms. Each platform varies – from its policies governing compliance for cannabis-related posts to the style of its content – but each present important opportunities for cannabis businesses.
While social media may be used to try to go viral and to share marketing content with followers, a great dispensary will prioritize social media’s unique ability to engage with customers and build a community around your brand.
Social media can be what you make it. Any great dispensary is bound to have a significant and consistent social media presence. You must be committed to posting regularly with original content. From videos of things happening in your dispensary to holiday or seasonal graphics advertising a promotion, commitment to your social media accounts will draw a community in a way no other medium is capable of.
Too many business owners overlook the importance of having a top-tier website, but any great dispensary will be sure to have a great one. What are the qualities of a great dispensary website? To start, it will be easy to navigate, full of up-to-date information, generate web traffic, and offer online ordering. Let’s take a brief look at each of these.
A great website will be designed with simplicity and should be intuitive to navigate. Every section should serve a distinct purpose. Avoid throwing in sections and pages just to fill space. With websites, less is often more. Avoid clutter.
Further, no section should be difficult to find. If someone comes onto your site looking for your dispensary’s hours of operation, they should be able to find it quickly. If they want to browse your menu, it should be accessible and organized, broken down by category.
Many take this step for granted because of how obvious it seems to be. However, many dispensaries fall short here. This goes beyond just store hours and your address. When a product is out of stock, for example, your website should reflect that. When a holiday is approaching, your website’s front page should specify whether or not you will be open or have adjusted hours. A great dispensary is proactive in using its site to share current information and statuses.
A great website will do more than just provide information and manage orders. It will also serve as a marketing tool and bring in new customers through its web presence. You can accomplish this through a well-balanced digital marketing strategy complete with content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and a strong Google My Business profile.
Content marketing allows you to develop your brand on your own terms, SEO keeps you relevant and competitive on search engines, and keeping your Google My Business profile maintained regularly helps you dominate your local competition. With a balance of all three, you will see consistent growth in its organic traffic.
A great dispensary understands: web traffic leads to sales. It all begins with a dynamic website.
Any great dispensary’s marketing strategy will include a dynamic loyalty program that rewards its frequent and high-spending customers. Introducing loyalty programs is a no-brainer for all cannabis dispensary. It increases customer retention, boosts sales, and is one of the most sure-fire ways to ensure a ROI on a marketing initiative.
Springbig’s loyalty rewards program operates on a point-per-dollar basis, rewarding customers not just for their visit but also for the amount they spend. You can fully personalize it and customize the rewards it offers to make sure it matches your dispensary’s needs. Learn more about it here.
The greatest dispensaries understand that cannabis customers look for more than just a barebones retail experience when deciding where to bring their dollars. Cannabis consumers care about more than just having high-quality product (although, yes, they definitely do care about that).
It is important for customers to feel a relationship with the brand.
Your brand should feel personal to your customers. They should identify with it, with its values, and with its products. A great cannabis company knows how to do more than just sell products from its shelves.
The greatest dispensaries offer something that none of their competition could. Many in the industry assume that just by stocking their shelves and inventory with the best and trendiest products, customers will pour in and keep returning. While this approach may offer some short-term results, winning in the long-run requires more sophisticated tactics.
There are an infinite ways for your company to differentiate itself, but there are a number of areas where almost every company can improve. Let’s take a look at a few.
We raise this time and again across our blog, but it is worth repeating. Success in the cannabis industry comes to those who spend time reflecting on their brand identity and set specific goals for themselves. Too often, cannabis business owners attempt to replicate successful strategies using the logic of “if it worked there, it will definitely work here.” While some may find some success with this strategy, most will be underwhelmed.
A great dispensary is sure to be comfortable with its identity and unafraid to take risks to bolster their brand in unconventional ways.
Too many cannabis businesses try to do and be everything. If something is working for a competitor, they rush to imitate and incorporate it into their strategies. These businesses spread themselves too thin, diluting their brand, and never become truly great.
Staying true to yourself and your brand is, conveniently enough, a winning cannabis marketing strategy. If you find you appeal mostly to, say, those who appreciate cannabis for its wellness properties and therapeutic effects, double down on that community. Do not see that development as “I am failing to appeal to young stoners” and instead see it as “my brand is successful at marketing to the wellness community.” Re-invest in what you are good at until you are great at it.
While the philosophy discussed above is great in theory, you may be wondering how you can actually take advantage of it in a tangible business way. There are many answers, but a great place to begin is with the products you offer.
It is easy to monitor the cannabis retail market for which products are trending and successful. Many opt to simply reproduce those results in their inventory – and understandably! These are likely to earn consistent sales.
However, we suggest more of a balancing act here. Yes, you should include the classics and top-sellers in your store. As we talk about in this article on making your dispensary stand out, keeping up with the trends is important. But you cannot be exclusively motivated by what is trending. Chances are your competition are also keeping up with what is trending. So, sticking to the trends are unlikely to differentiate your business from others.
In the long run, success will come from (1) discovering the products that your competition does not offer and (2) identifying which of those products your primary customers are likely to enjoy. Usually, cannabis consumers are both loyal to the products they know themselves to enjoy and open to trying new things.
Great dispensaries strike a balance between the trends and what they are known for. That is the marketing approach you should try to replicate.
Whether you are great already or on your way, marketing is a constant effort. There seems to always be more and more marketing that requires your attention. One day, you have to attract new customers, and, the next, you need to keep your existing customers coming back. It could feel like your marketing strategy is never doing quite enough.
Fortunately, there is springbig. With springbig’s marketing suite, you can optimize and automate a wide range of your marketing needs. Our marketing services range from springbig’s loyalty program, which allows you to incentivize and reward your regulars to keep them coming back, to springbig’s SMS text message marketing platform, which allows you to instantly reach thousands of segmented leads and existing customers. Springbig’s marketing platform can be fully and seamlessly integrated into your already existing software. Not to mention it will manage all your marketing compliance so you don’t have to. With springbig, you can keep your attention where you want it to be. We’ll handle the rest.