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You’re no doubt familiar with the adage popularized by “Field of Dreams,” the classic baseball film starring Kevin Costner: “Build it, and they will come.” While that advice may work for building a baseball field, it doesn’t work in the cannabis industry (or any other highly competitive industry).
Like all entrepreneurs, dispensary owners need to promote and market. Promote or perish, as they say.
Because the Feds (frustratingly) continue to classify cannabis as a Schedule I drug (deemed as dangerous as heroin), most major media properties do not allow businesses in our industry to advertise on their sites.
Sure, that presents challenges. But, nothing a little persistence or creativity can’t overcome. And, the landscape is changing. As companies adjust to laws while recognizing opportunity, it shouldn’t be too long before opportunities open up.
Nonetheless, even being in a tightly regulated industry, there are opportunities abound! Cannabis dispensary marketers are fortunate to have a wide array of digital marketing tools at their disposal.
Digital marketing encompasses all web-based or electronic communication between you — the brand — and your audience. Given the prominence of digital channels — particularly the importance search, social media, and mobile — people are consuming more digital media and less traditional media.
While traditional forms of promotion are unlikely to disappear (and many continue to be successful for dispensaries), it’s critical that digital strategies feature prominently in your overall marketing plan.
Here’s how some traditional marketing techniques compare to digital:
The greatest challenges with traditional media include the murky legal landscape, and that traditional media strategy are often hard to track.
How Does Digital Marketing Connect Customers to Dispensaries?
Here are a few of the foundational tools that are essential for any cannabis dispensary marketing program:
Your website is the flagship of your digital media presence and your brand. As such, investing in your website to ensure it is valuable for your audience while representing your brand effectively is vital to your success.
A few key considerations to keep in mind include:
Leverage email marketing to maintain regular contact with your customers:
Make sure to build your email list and keep in contact with your community by regularly sending out relevant email communications with your audience. This may include sending out tips and tricks, promotions (if legal in your state or locale), or a weekly newsletter.
Remember, effective email marketing enables you to build loyalty, trust, and brand awareness.
We mentioned that mobile marketing is vital for your website to be responsive; we’ve found that 70% of visitors to our client websites are using a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet to access the site. But, mobile doesn’t end with your website.
Other effective mobile tactics may include:
Search marketing or Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website on organic (“natural” or un-paid) Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs), by incorporating search engine friendly elements into your site.
Note: Think of SERPs as not only Google’s search results page, but like real estate.
You want your website, directory listings, videos, and social media accounts to show up on the homepage of Google — so it’s important to have everything to ensure Google picks you up and ranks your site high in their search results.
Google, of course, continues to own search, but fortunately, if you employ best practices for Google, you’ll rank well for other search engines, too. Google continually updates its algorithm to make it harder to “game,” while delivering more relevant results. Overall, this is a good thing, but it also requires keeping abreast of changes to ensure you maintain high rankings.
Here are a few important considerations:
Content marketing is huge! Content marketing is a key tool to help build your brand and loyalty with your customers. Create and share “remarkable” content to stimulate interest in your brand. Make sure the information is relevant, useful, and digestible. You can create blogs and guides; make sure to use images (original if possible), videos, and other media.
Apps overlap with directories. But, high traffic sites like Leafly and Weedmaps also provide mobile apps that cannabis consumers use to search on strains and dispensaries.
Make sure you’re listed with the two most popular apps:
Other apps to consider include:
There are ad networks like Adistry and Mantis where you can purchase display advertising based on metro area. Ad networks allow you to purchase inventory across relevant sites that can appear on mobile, desktop, text, video, and the web. Campaigns are billed at a cost-per-click, known as a CPC, or cost-per-1000-views, known as CPM.
You can also purchase inventory (e.g. display advertising) directly from cannabis-focused lifestyle sites like Dope Magazine, Culture, Herb.co, and High Times.
You’ve no doubt you’ve come across some bad reviews of your competitors, or you’ve seen negative comments in forums, social media, or other places about various brands in the space. Your reputation is everything and affects everything from word-of-mouth to search strategies. So it’s important you closely follow your brand’s reputation online by monitoring and responding to reviews, tagged photos, blog posts, and other social media interactions.
For more guidance on digital marketing, visit Foottraffik’s resource center to learn more