Though it’s designed to appear so, marketing is never simple. And it’s made even more complicated when you’re working in an industry that’s both federally illegal and shrouded in stigma. It’s not all bad news though. Read on for a few tips to market your cannabiz:
- Know the rules. There are different rules for cannabis advertising in each legalized state, and some of them are odd and surprising – so don’t figure that common sense will handle the situation, because it definitely won’t.
- Social media can be tricky. Cannabis pages get shut down pretty frequently. A dispensary page I stopped managing several months ago got shut down the other day, despite very careful measures in regard to state legality when posting. I didn’t remove it from my related accounts and now I’m being punished via algorithms and the inability to create a page for this business. Tricky.Lessons Learned: I wish that I hadn’t connected my personal page to the cannabis page, logging out to post is annoying; but now that I’m facing potentially losing all my work on the other account it seems very worth it. I also could have backed up the account, posting to both. Selling cannabis is what gets you in trouble, we were careful not to list prices when I was there, but we did allude to specials and events; we could have been more careful. Also be mindful of local laws, like in California you need to avoid any images that could be attractive to children.
It’s all a bit obnoxious, and I’ll go into it more in a later post, but it can be a helpful and free way to connect with your current and potential customers. It might be a temporary page, but building an audience is easier in cannabis than most other industries and that’s something to take advantage of. Think of your posts as branding advertising, which doesn’t last forever, right? It’ll be a practice in non-attachment… Best wishes, may you fly under their radar.
- Watch the stigma. Stoner stereotypes might seem like low-hanging fruit, an easy laugh. And they are. But do you really want to associate your business with a slacker vibe? Do you want your product labeled as something only dazed-out-hippies enjoy? Not great for your image, nor bringing in diverse clientele.
- Don’t be afraid to be “weird.” While being professional and avoiding stigma are key to being taken seriously, there’s also tons of room in this industry for personal expression. Creativity is rewarded! Think outside the box when it comes to branding, employ your passions. (And an artist?)
- Get involved. Changing perception around the cannabis industry largely falls on the businesses involved in it. Sponsor appropriate community events. (Concert = Yay! School play = Gah!) Join local business associations, including those that have nothing to do with cannabis. Also be sure to join cannabis advocacy groups, perhaps getting involved in local politics. It’s an important time to pay attention. You’re no doubt a very busy person, but a business’s image in the community is the biggest word of mouth out there – worth it.
- Do “the usual.” Typical marketing standards also apply to the cannabiz: have a superb website, mind your online presence (Google your business, see what others see and fix it), make sure you’re listed on all relevant directories, all that typical stuff. The cannabis industry is not above the basics.
This is a huge topic, and one who’s facets change all the time. But don’t let it all overwhelm you into not participating in marketing, it’s so important. If you need an ear and some advice, feel free to reach out for a consultation. ★