Cannabis

Marketing Challenges in the Cannabis Industry

by will

What times we live in! Legalization and or decriminalization are on everyone’s lips and the nation is electric with cannabis innovation, but too many laws are stuck 5-10 years behind the industry.  The “green rush” is on but traditional marketing platforms remain unavailable to most cannabis businesses.

If Google Adwords, Facebook, and Twitter don’t allow you to purchase ads — what can you do? Well, keep in mind that it’s only so long before all these avenue will be available to you. However, in the meantime, look at all the public facing sides of your business (digital and traditional) as an ecosystem. Every part of an ecosystem relates to one another, and together they feed your goals. As you read on, take stock of which of these methods you have and which you might need to think about adding or refining.

We can break down advertising that’s available to cannabis businesses into three general areas:

SEO

If you’ve been reading the CannaPlanners blog for a while, you already know the importance of an SEO strategy and high quality content to match. SEO makes your website and what you offer highly discoverable and also keeps your content fresh against the background of competitors.

An SEO strategy is a suite of many things, some of them technical and some creative. As a business owner though, you know best what you’re really offering and what you want to get in front of customers eyes. Do you have an essential theme to your products or services? You can keyword around that and carve out a place of recognition on the interwebs. SEO gets google and social searches to work for you, rather than against you.

Inbound

Inbound marketing can be a confusing term as it is sometimes leaned on as a buzzword, but we’ll keep it simple and direct: an inbound strategy or campaign funnels customers & potential customers to a specific place you need them to be like your website or your socials pages. An inbound campaign is made up of many things: your SEO strategy, your website content, call to action buttons, social content, email blasts, and more. Through all of these parts working in tandem (again, think ecosystem) you get eyes, clicks, and engaged minds looking at your products,  learning more about your offerings, and making purchases.

While not all parts of an inbound toolkit are “organic” (unpaid), inbound is best thought of holistically. Inbound is never a silver bullet, and neither is it “external.” Inbound efforts come directly from you and attract customers from specific areas of the internet. If you can’t throw up some spend on google ads, thinking in an inbound way is your second best bet to grow traffic.

Alternative

Cannabis magazines, cannabis columns in traditional newspapers, cannabis blogs and podcasts are some of the industry-specific examples of “alternative” marketing outlets that are available to you. Of course, as you grow you will likely want to market to the wide world and not just those with subscriptions to High Times. However, these outlets are great places to start and test your marketing messaging in the meantime until Google Adwords opens up.

In conclusion, thinking intentionally about all of these marketing areas now will set you up nicely for a future day when Google Ads, Facebook, Twitter, and more open their doors and come calling for your business. In a way, it’s never too late or too early to get started designing your ideal advertising plan of action.

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