As all dispensary owners know, developing and implementing a successful dispensary marketing strategy is hard work. Cannabis marketing is an especially challenging space. Between the maze of regulations and the constantly changing environment of the cannabis industry, optimizing a marketing strategy can feel overwhelming.
Here at springbig, we pride ourselves on helping any cannabis dispensary meet their unique marketing needs. Here, however, we want to focus specifically on medical marijuana dispensaries. For those looking to learn more about recreational cannabis marketing, feel free to browse our blog.
If you are a medical marijuana dispensary, you exist in an unusual place. As of June 2021, medical marijuana is legal in 36 states, of which 16 (as well as Washington D.C.) also allow for recreational consumption.
Perhaps you are in one of the 16 states, like Washington, Colorado, or California, where cannabis is legal recreationally as well, but you specialize in medical cannabis. Or you find yourself in one of the 20 states, like Florida or Pennsylvania, where only medicinal use has been legalized.
Even in states where recreational cannabis has been legalized, there is still a considerable market for medical cannabis. While the recreational market in particular has exploded, the medicinal market has continued to have a significant share of the action. In California, for instance, one report from Cannabis Business Plan projects medical marijuana to have about 13% of the market share of legal cannabis sales.
This can be attributed to the unique offerings of medicinal dispensaries that recreational dispensaries simply cannot provide – which we describe in more detail below.
Medical marijuana dispensaries differ from recreational dispensaries in a number of ways. Their customer base, their products, and the appearance of their storefronts are all likely to differ from recreational dispensaries.
Customers at a medicinal dispensary are, first and foremost, patients. Their cannabis consumption has been approved by a medical professional and is likely prompted by pain or discomfort that cannabis helps to relieve.
People who use medical marijuana may suffer from chronic conditions, take medications with unpleasant side effects, or be experiencing any other health circumstance. Unlike the typical recreational consumer, they may turn to cannabis for more than a euphoric high. For some, cannabis may relieve nausea or return their appetite.
The bottom line is that a medicinal cannabis dispensary cannot make assumptions about their clientele, and each customer must be met with a degree of patience and care that is not typically expected at a recreational dispensary.
This difference in clientele influences all aspects of the business. These influences can be felt from the products and the storefront to the dispensary marketing strategies that medicinal dispensaries must incorporate.
Products found at medical marijuana dispensaries are often different from those at recreational dispensaries. There is no definitive difference between the two, meaning there is nothing that makes cannabis medical or recreational in nature. However, since medical consumers’ preferences typically differ from that of recreational consumers, the inventories of their respective dispensaries tend to reflect that.
For example, medical products are likely to be higher in CBD (cannabidiol) than recreational products. Whereas THC is the chemical component of cannabis that causes the psychoactive high many of us are familiar with, CBD is a chemical component that is non-psychoactive. Instead, it is known for its relaxing and calming effects. While CBD is used recreationally as well, it has special use for medical patients.
Further, medical products may be sourced from cannabis farms and cultivators who specialize in medicinal cannabis. They may highlight certain strains that have desirable side effects for those with appetite loss or chronic pain, for instance. A recreational dispensary is unlikely to be able to offer such specialized products.
Finally, a medical dispensary’s storefront is likely to differ from a recreational dispensary in its appearance. While a recreational dispensary may try to look hip, center around a theme, and include lingo of “good vibes only” whenever possible, a medical dispensary is likely to adopt a more serious atmosphere.
A medical dispensary should emphasize wellness, tranquility, and comfort. The customer experience should be easy, and customers should be afforded special attention and patience that goes beyond what a recreational dispensary would be expected to provide.
On the surface, dispensary marketing for medical marijuana looks very similar to any cannabis dispensary marketing. This is because, for the most part, the general methods are the same. However, the differences in a medical dispensary’s target audience changes the way each method is carried out.
Like recreational dispensaries, a successful medical cannabis marketing effort will include a dynamic digital marketing strategy – including social media marketing, SMS text message marketing, a loyalty program, website Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and engaging content marketing – as well as more traditional methods.
In the rest of this article, we will review these different approaches and how they can be integrated into your medical dispensary’s marketing tactics.
Your marketing plan starts and ends with your brand. As a medical dispensary, your brand is likely to center what you can offer patients. Terms like wellness, relief, and calm come immediately to mind.
Think about your target audience, and ask yourself what would draw them into your dispensary. As a medicinal operation, prioritize professionalism, sophistication, and expertise over being witty or including trippy visuals.
Put a lot of thought into your logo and a brief slogan, if you desire.
Social media platforms are notoriously difficult for cannabis brands to navigate. However, if you manage to navigate social media, there are excellent opportunities for growing brand awareness. Learn more in our article about cannabis dispensary social media marketing.
For medical marijuana dispensaries in particular, social media can be a great way to learn about your target audience in your local market and get the word out to new clients. With a thoughtful approach, social media can be an extremely effective way to both gain customers and spread the word about your dispensary and its benefits.
Beyond social media, text message marketing is among the most effective ways to reach a large audience quickly and with actual results. It is especially conducive for your medical cannabis dispensary because a strong SMS strategy allows you to easily segment its audience. With a sophisticated list, you can narrow your audience to known medical marijuana users and patients.
With springbig’s marketing suite, you can easily integrate SMS text messaging into your marketing strategy. With access to our system and its millions of numbers, you can expect a significant ROI in just days. You can learn more about our SMS text messaging platform here.
Another one of springbig’s specialties, creating a dynamic loyalty program that rewards your most consistent customers is an excellent marketing strategy. Unlike other loyalty program platforms, springbig offers a point-per-dollar system, rather than a point-per-visit system, which rewards your customers for spending more.
To learn more about what a loyalty program can do for your dispensary and how to integrate it, check out this page on our website.
Possibly the most lucrative channel within dispensary digital marketing, content marketing allows you to freely and creatively express yourself and your brand. It refers to a wide range of different modes of content production, from videos to blogs. Learn more about the different ways you can produce content for your dispensary with our guide to cannabis content marketing.
For medical marijuana dispensaries in particular, content production should be focused on (1) earning patients’ trust by showing how seriously you take their wellbeing and (2) demonstrating the health benefits of medicinal cannabis and how it can help them with what they are experiencing.
Many dispensaries overlook the importance of investing time and resources into their website. More and more, customers and clients will visit a dispensary’s website before ever visiting the storefront in person. Your website must include all relevant and up-to-date information, but it should also be sophisticated. Also update your dispensary’s information of Google My Business, which allows customers to easily find you on search engines.
As a medical dispensary, you need to instill trust and confidence in your potential customers. If your website is full of errors or appears to be thrown together on a low budget, customers are likely to find somewhere else to shop.
Another great use of your website is to facilitate organic traffic. Above, we discussed the importance of content marketing. For certain types of content marketing, such as blogs, focus on search engine optimization (SEO), which you learn more about in our article here. Successful SEO will bring new customers to your website, leading to an increase in sales.
While digital marketing tends to dominate the cannabis industry, certain “old school” marketing tactics cannot be overlooked. Typically, a strong combination of both digital and offline strategies is key to optimizing your cannabis business. Here are some proven offline methods you should try out.
The old faithful. Never to be overlooked, word of mouth marketing is more effective than most marketing approaches. When people hear about something from friends or family, they are far more likely to trust the recommendation than they would from seeing an advertisement.
Especially if you are local to your business’s neighborhood, don’t be afraid to use your personal connections and network to promote your business. Encourage your customers to do the same!
Dispensary owners should also use display advertising – like billboards – to advertise their business. Sometimes a single compelling advertisement can produce an unexpectedly great ROI.
However, be sure to familiarize yourself with local restrictions and regulations. Public-facing cannabis advertising is often limited.
An age-old marketing tactic is working with another local business that may have a similar clientele as your business. Try exchanging flyers to display at the other’s storefront for a quick and easy win-win.
For medical dispensaries, all sorts of healthcare businesses may be willing to establish a partnership. Reach out to some in your neighborhood!
No matter your circumstance, an effective marketing strategy is essential to success in what is sure to be an increasingly competitive atmosphere. In this article, we touched on some of the marketing strategies medical dispensaries need in order to take their business to the next level and differentiate themselves from their competition.
With springbig’s marketing suite, you can take your medical marijuana dispensary’s marketing approach to the next level. Easily integrated into your already existing platforms, springbig will boost your business with its point-per-dollar loyalty program, fully customizable SMS marketing platform, and an array of other features. Springbig also ensures you remain compliant with all relevant restrictions and regulations. All with a proven and quickly delivered ROI.
To learn more, request a free demo here.