Connecting with Cannabis Consumers: The Dos and Don’ts of Marketing Marijuana
Learn how to effectively market yourself as part of the cannabis community
Finding the right tone and message to convey to your audience is an integral component of any effective advertising plan, but it’s particularly imperative in the cannabis industry. Although cannabis is quickly gaining credibility as a legitimate solution to various health problems, or even simply for recreational purposes, there is still some residual stigma from the stereotypes associated with it.
Along with the inherent challenges in establishing the right tone and talking points, there are also state and federal limitations around how you can market medical marijuana and dispensaries. However, once you understand the hurdles ahead, you can get to work crafting a comprehensive marketing plan that increases the awareness of your business to cannabis customers in an appropriate and professional manner. Here are some suggestions to help get you started:
Research your market and consumers: Before you define your brand’s image, understand your target market. People use cannabis for a wide range of reasons, covering many different age and status demographics. Spend time brainstorming your “ideal” customer – this doesn’t mean that you’ll exclude other segments of the population, but focusing in on your audience will help you refine your brand personality.
Know where to advertise: Cannabis-friendly magazines are a great start because the readers are already consumers of your product. However, that also means more competition in one space among brands. Reach out to other publications to see if they have regulations against cannabis-based advertising; you may have the most luck with non-mainstream publications. Radio stations and podcasts are also potential options whose audiences may overlap with yours.
Establish an online presence: As with any other business, you should have a professionally-designed and updated website and frequently updated social media pages. Social media, in particular, is a great way to increase your brand’s exposure. Your content doesn’t always have to be sales-focused either; in fact, it shouldn’t be. Deliver valuable relevant content about cannabis, with scientifically-backed information to support it.
Understand the law: Rules change among states and localities when it comes to marketing cannabis. Educate yourself on local regulations and be careful to follow those closely so your business doesn’t suffer from penalties, or the loss of your business license. Work hard to establish and maintain the credibility of cannabis.
Use juvenile visuals: Beware of cartoon-styled mascots or logos, or packaging that appears like it’s intended to appeal to a younger audience. Part of being a pioneer in this industry involves working towards eliminating public concerns, such as the effect of cannabis legalization on minors. An appropriate logo can help not only your business’s image, but also the industry’s.
Plagiarize other brands: Take care not to infringe on the copyright of well-established brands in different industries. A dispensary was recently sued by Hershey’s for trademark infringement due to edibles called “Reefer’s Cups” and “Mr. Dankbar.” Parodying the name or logo of a popular product is opening your business up to legal liability and seems childish and unprofessional.
Use immature language: The cannabis industry is working hard to move past the “stoner” stereotype. Use a sophisticated voice in your marketing materials to establish yourself as an expert in a legitimate field. Develop a professional voice and personality for your brand that gives consumers confidence in your quality and customer service abilities.
Don’t misrepresent facts: It’s important to provide accurate information when positioning yourself as a trusted source. Don’t cite pseudoscience, or exaggerate potential benefits – cannabis has enough positive attributes without resorting to statistics that can be easily discredited. Be honest, accurate, informative, and interesting.
Once you know the basics about marketing to the cannabis community, it all comes down to carefully developing a clear understanding of what your brand looks like, sounds like, and stands for, and determining the best mediums to distribute your message. Create a cohesive brand image that’s consistent throughout your marketing, position yourself as a professional, and educate consumers about both your business, and the benefits of cannabis.
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