While cannabis was once considered to be almost taboo and generally associated with "hippies," emerging benefits of its medicinal and relaxing properties have led to a change in its acceptability, and therefore overall marketability and acceptance. A poll conducted recently showed that up to 62% of Americans believe we should make legal reformation of how cannabis is scheduled, or move towards full legalization of the plant. This change in attitude has led to exponential growth in this industry, with growth by the year 2023 projected to reach $39 billion. With this projected growth almost a certainty, it is the best time in history to invest in your own cannabis business, and advertise your way into a cannabis empire.
In Cannabis Marketing, compliance is the issue of most significance. One step in the wrong direction could lead to a whole load of trouble.
To federal government, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug, which means it has high potential for abuse. The fact that cocaine and heroin also fall in this category is not helpful in any logical sense. In an effort to make any move, instead of none at all, last November, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act was approved by the House Judiciary Committee in an effort to strip it of Schedule I status and decriminalize it. It is however important to note that decriminalizing is not legalizing.
Though medical marijuana is now legal in 28 states with recreational marijuana being legal in 11 states, cannabis marketing is still not in the green.
Social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Google still operate under federal law, which considers cannabis a banned substance. Running cannabis adverts on these platforms will lead to the taking down of your accounts, unless your keen on some cowboy style marketing techniques.
Though TV commercials are a bit more relaxed, a lot of caution has to be taken not to cross the invisible line between basic advertisement facilitator/client relationship to possible money laundering implications, and red tape based on how funds are being exchanged in relation to a federally controlled substance.
The battle for cannabis isn’t over. With legality, taboo and competition being constant obstacles you will have to overcome as you market your cannabis business, we must keep compliance in operations and transparency in numbers as the backbone for our businesses.
Here are some tips on how to navigate these stormy waters:
Though it takes deliberate and intentional planning, you can still market your cannabis products using digital marketing. You can employ inbound tactics which will boost awareness about your company and products, grow your online following, and connect you with the cannabis industries top leaders.
Below are out tips on marketing that will launch you to success:
1. Focus on Education, Not Selling!
As direct advertisement for sale of cannabis is prohibited, you can focus on education. People are looking for solutions for their problems and you can answer these by educating them and thus creating a following and loyalty.
Not only will you remain compliant, you will also ensure positive reach and greater demand for your cannabis products.
2. Take Advantage of Social Media
Despite the risk of putting your brand out on social media, it could also be very rewarding.
We recommend you use the following platforms:
- Instagram: Its image centered model ideal for cannabis brand selling. You can have a staggeringly huge reach here.
- Facebook: You can use Facebook to offer customer service, build a rapport with customers, and keep customers updated about company changes.
- Twitter: An excellent forum to network with influencers in the cannabis industry including journalists, CEO’s and influencers. Look to network with leaders in the cannabis industry.
3. Join Cannabis-Niched Websites
Cannabis Niched Websites will give you a little bit more freedom that conventional media. It is encouraging to note that they currently have an impressively wide reach.
Some of these websites are:
- Leafwire: A very professional space.
- Mjlink: Has a base of 2.5 million users.
- Weedable: Has the option to set up business profiles.
4. Content Marketing
Content marketing has the ability to establish authority, boost your SEO and generate new leads. You could do:
- Blog posts
- Case studies
- White papers and Ebooks
5. Get Media Coverage
Get media coverage on reputable forums such as Forbes, Cannabis business times and marijuana venture by offering informative, nonbiased, educational material about cannabis, its benefits and other tips.
Here’s a list of what NOT to do when marketing cannabis:
1. Overlook Branding & Public Image
Boost your public image continuously. Have a professional face out there.
Not everyone can afford to hire the best PR reps in the world, or we'd all be starring in our own Hollywood cinema, so concentrate locally first, then regionally, and by the time you're ready to go national, you'll already have people throwing their services at you left and right.
2. Fall Behind on Regulations
Don’t forget that cannabis is still a regulated substance, Use these tips on social media;
· Don’t Show Cannabis Consumption
· Be Intentional With Hashtags - dont dilute the conversation
· Don’t Run Ads - *Unless you know you're compliant
3. Lie or Over-Exaggerate
Promise only what the product can deliver. You are trying to build a brand, not be called a liar.
There's a phrase in business that applies here: Under Promise, Over Deliver.
4. Blend in With the Crowd
Find that quality that will differentiate you and run with it, don’t settle for blending in with the masses.
Start with a blueprint that works that you understand. It'll save you time and money to be at the helm before handing it off to someone who can help you automate it all.
Online sales, or brick and mortar, is a different animal today than it was 10 years ago. What worked then only works 40% of the time now, and the methods being used today at an 80% efficiency, will be replaced much sooner than their ancestors were.
Life will always find a way of defining itself, and your customers are no different. Some brands will go "to the moon" with their sales, become public possibly, and earn 100x their startup evaluations from ideation to exit, and some, will earn their owners 10,000-100,000 a month in perpetuity.
You have to have goals. You have to understand where the value is in the problem you're solving by existing, even if it's to help a small community understand new information not widely available in their market.
Do your best to identify your Real goals as a business owner, and you'll find the answers to the question of how, and who you're marketing to, much easier.