The Cannabis business in the United States is exploding. Right now, experts are predicting the worldwide market will grow to 57 billion by 2027, a massive increase from its current size of 9.2 billion. On the US Market, recreational and medical market size is slated to increase from 8.3 billion to 25 billion by 2025.
Despite all this growth, the legal landscape of Cannabis businesses remains complex, and many owners are confused about how to market their organizations in the ever-shifting environment of legalized cannabis.
Today, we’re going to walk you through the process of marketing your business legally, and ensuring you avoid any roadblocks along the way.
Let’s dive in!
The 4 Components of the Modern Cannabis Market
Today, the cannabis market can be broken down into four components:
1. Recreational Cannabis
Recreational marijuana is currently legal in 10 states. Recreational marijuana is cannabis that consumers can purchase without medical justification. It usually has a higher THC content than its medicinal counterparts and can be bought over the counter at a cannabis dispensary.
2. Medical Cannabis
Medical Cannabis is a physician-recommended therapy and is currently legal in 32 US states. It requires a prescription for purchase.
3. CBD Oil
CBD oil is a non-psychoactive nutritional supplement that is legal under US Federal Law. Individual states may enact laws around hemp derived-CBD, and its promotion and sale.
Hemp is an industrial crop. Currently, more than 30 states have cultivation programs under Farm Bill 2018. There are three parts of this bill:
- Allows growth of hemp
- Transport of hemp across state lines
- There are no restrictions on the transport, sale, or possession of products made from hemp, as long as those items are produced legally.
To enjoy these benefits, hemp cannot contain more than 0.3% THC. Additionally, states must come up with a plan for the cultivation of hemp to be approved by the Secretary of the USDA. If a state opts not to have a regulatory program, then the USDA will come up with a plan under which hemp cultivators must apply for licenses and comply with Federal regulations. Each of these elements has different markets and different regulations.
Your Options for Marketing Your Cannabis Business
The cannabis industry is a complex one, with varying rules and regulations that apply to different sectors. With that in mind, here are a few basic dos and don’ts of marketing your cannabis business:
- Don’t market to minors
- Don’t infringe on existing brand copyright. For example don’t call your product “reefer cups,” as large brands may file a lawsuit
- Don’t start marketing without first consulting federal and state regulations that may apply to your company
- Research your target audience and create a customer persona to guide your efforts
- Invest in skilled digital marketing assistance
- Create a brand identity that offers more than just sales pitches
- Be informative about different strains and options
Where can you Market Your Business?
A shoe store, for example, would have dozens of options when it comes to marketing. As a cannabis business, though, do you have the same opportunities? What’s available to you, and what’s not? Here’s a breakdown of a few common channels and their openness to cannabis marketing.
Traditional marketing mediums, while available to standard companies, can get a bit tricky for legal cannabis brands. Here’s a breakdown of where you can (and can’t) market your business in the mainstream:
Newspaper and Print
This is an excellent option for marketing your cannabis company. Look for alternative non-mainstream publications.
Billboards and Outdoor Advertising
Billboards and outdoor advertising can be an excellent option for cannabis companies. Throughout the country, brands like Weedmaps and Leafly have already made good use of them. Weedmaps, for example, has placed billboards aimed at educating viewers about legal adult-use Cannabis throughout states like Connecticut.
Leafly, meanwhile, has used billboards throughout California to drive a massive user-generated content campaign. Their instruction to viewers? Find a Leafly billboard, take a selfie in front of it, and share the photo on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtags #Leafly and #Giveaway. The lucky winner gets some free Leafly gear, while Leafly gets some major free advertising.
Today, cannabis billboards are increasingly common, and they can be a great tactic for cannabis retailers to take advantage of.
It is currently illegal to market a cannabis company on the radio. Fortunately, there are some workarounds. Radio guest segments by marketing managers or business owners are effective for driving some brand awareness, as are appearances on podcasts. Click here to listen to a radio appearance from one of our clients.
YouTube is worth looking into. Currently, the platform’s community guidelines don’t expressly mention anything about cannabis marketing, although it specifies that harmful content is prohibited. With this in mind, it’s generally accepted that medical marijuana providers can advertise here, although the platform is off-limits to other companies.
Niche marketing allows your business to reach out directly to customers already engaged with the market. It’s an excellent way to generate leads and will help you avoid regulatory issues because the audience is already established and restricted. (For example, consider going to expos where everyone will be 21 or older). Niche publications are also a great option.
In general, focus on mediums that are not vulnerable to regulation, including the following:
Facebook is a substantial social media marketing platform. If you’re going to use it, you must carefully follow Facebook rules. You cannot, for example, promote recreational drug use. On Facebook, businesses can appear in the search results but can’t advertise. Here are a few tips for success:
- Avoid using images of smoking paraphernalia like pipes, bongs, etc.
- Don’t use images of recreational or medical marijuana.
- Avoid images of recreational drug use.
- CBD also not permitted.
You cannot advertise recreational drugs on Twitter. The platform does allow organic tweets with the word like marijuana, weed, and cannabis. You can also promote medical marijuana and Hemp.
Pinterest allows you to advertise Hemp and CBD-only products. You cannot use the platform for promoting recreational drug use.
This platform prohibits ads about illegal drugs or recreational use. It does, however, allow content about Cannabis
as long as it doesn’t promote illegal activity.
You cannot advertise recreational drug use on Reddit. You can, however, share information about cannabis educationally or legally.
You can not use Google’s advertising empire for advertising recreational or illegal cannabis use. You can, however, blog about Cannabis as long as it doesn’t encourage or promote illegal activities.
Earned media is entirely voluntary, and includes awards and appearances, as well as speaking opportunities. This establishes your company as an expert in the field and is a great way to build your business.
Content marketing allows you to drive traffic to your website by boosting your standing in search algorithms. It’s great for presenting yourself as an authority. It’s also a good option because it exists on your website, and you don’t need to purchase ads. Content Marketing generally appears as blogs, which are less regulated than other forms of advertising.
In most states where Cannabis is legal, dispensaries often send menus through mobile/text messages. This makes sense since mobile and text marketing fit so well with our “real-time obsessed” marketing culture. In a world where the average consumer checks their phone once every 12 minutes (or about 80 times a day), mobile marketing provides a personalized, actionable marketing channel that brings companies and customers closer together.
ROI from Cannabis Marketing
Since cannabis marketing is so limited in an of itself, many retailers struggle to prove the ROI of their marketing efforts. Because of this, many marketing managers are turning to tech to prove their ROI. Today, a good cannabis marketing platform can work wonders to create a unified experience for customers, and to promote effective omnichannel marketing that’s easy to manage.
This is important since so much of cannabis marketing falls into the experiential marketing category. It’s less tangible, by-the-book, and more UX-focused. Today, more than two-thirds of cannabis consumers will abandon a company’s content if they find the user experience to be inconsistent across the brand’s various channels.
By implementing an intelligent dispensary marketing plan and adopting the tech to back it up, brands can enhance their omnichannel interaction capabilities and continue gathering the marijuana market research needed to measure ROI accurately. Once your brand has the hard numbers on your potential customers, you can compare them to the overall strategic benchmarks of your company, and work backward to determine your KPIs.
Improve Your Cannabis Marketing This Year
The advertising market for cannabis is complicated and ever-changing. Fortunately, you can improve your marketing by following a few simple guidelines. Remember to focus on media that is not overly affected by regulation and carefully observe rules of any platform you intend to use. Finally, ensure that marketing is targeted to people over the age of 21.
When you follow these simple rules, it’ll be much easier to find your way through cannabis marketing. If you’re looking for a professional team to help you, look no further than Indicative. Our team offers a wide selection of marketing services designed to cater to the unique needs of cannabis brands. Contact us today to learn more.