How to Grow Your Cannabis Brand
Start by providing validation, perspective, and education.
What’s this? No lead-in with the latest statistics about the multi-billion-dollar opportunity for companies competing in the cannabis industry? You already know what’s at stake if you’re in the industry. And, you already know that the competition is growing. Fast.
What you’re looking for is insight on how to grow your cannabis brand. How do you stand out from competitors and create awareness of your product? The time to do it is now, when it’s still possible to reach prospects first and convert them into customers. The question, how?
No marketing allowed
A recent Washington Post business article sheds light on what’s got to be the biggest frustration for companies looking to market their cannabis products. It’s extremely difficult to advertise cannabis, even where the sale of this product is legal. It’s important to note the article is referring to products containing the full spectrum of phytocannabinoids – including THC.
Social media platforms continue to reject full-spectrum cannabis product ads. Some, such as Facebook, include it in a general policy that prohibits promotion of even prescription medication products. Search engine giant Google avoids accepting full-spectrum cannabis product ads because THC, the psychoactive phytocannabinoid, remains illegal at the federal level.
Does this mean your cannabis brand can’t have a presence on social media? This is where deep knowledge of your product’s classifications and pertinent regulations comes into play. Search for “CBD” or “CBD Oil” on Facebook. You’ll find a large number of groups, some of which have hundreds of thousands of members. You’ll also find that some of your competitors have already jumped on the Facebook landgrab and have their own pages.
Your takeaway: You may not be able to use traditional outbound marketing methods to create brand awareness, but you can communicate to people who readily identify themselves on social media as prospects. Make their problem your focus.
The power of inbound marketing
Author, public speaker, marketer and TED Talk superstar Simon Sinek consults with brands ranging from Costco to the U.S. military. He tells them the same thing. “Start with why.”
There’s a reason we’re connecting Simon Sinek to your cannabis brand. When you follow his advice about starting with why, you equip yourself with the most powerful ingredients you’ll need to successfully market your brand.
Prospects are just like those for any other kind of brand. Sooner or later, they’ll be interested in the “how” and the “what” of your brand – the features and benefits. First, though, they’re looking for validation, perspective, and education. If you want evidence of this, look at the Facebook group names when you search for “CBD” or “CBD Oil.” It’s a quest for education.
A surprising number of groups are dedicated to sharing information about CBD for pets. Some are highly focused. One group, for example, currently has over 400 members sharing information about CBD’s effect on a specific medical condition called essential tremor.
These Facebook group participants, as well as people using search engines, are on a buyer’s journey that doesn’t start with hearing all about the features and benefits of your brand. That’s like offering a diagnosis and writing a prescription before even finding out the symptoms.
Your takeaway: Inbound marketing – also known as content marketing – allows you to tell the story of why your brand exists. You’re able to offer education that creates insight and perspective. When you communicate why your brand exists, you help prospects fit the problem it solves into their worldview. Why is this crucial? You don’t own your brand. It exists in your customers’ minds. Inbound marketing with content helps you get it there.
In time, your cannabis brand has the opportunity to grow as big as any of the enterprise companies Simon Sinek consults with or talks about in his popular presentations. Meanwhile, you’re in a discovery mode – with restrictions that make inbound marketing the most powerful way there is to grow brand awareness.
Even in areas and on platforms where it’s prohibited for you to market, a growing number of prospects are actively searching for education about cannabis products. More importantly, they’re looking for cannabis brands which are aligned with their own philosophies.
Your prospects are looking for subject matter experts and thought leaders. Right now, as brands grow in the industry and market, potential customers are interested mostly in factual and non-sales-based information. They want to know your why.
Prospects are recommending and trading informational links on social media. They’re looking for confident, educational voices that push a signal through the noise. Most of that activity points inward to the content you have created, offering validation, perspective and help with forming a worldview.
Your takeaway: What’s this? No admonition to stay away from the “stoner” lexicon as you craft your brand message and supporting content? You know your target audience. Speak to them in the way that earns their trust and confidence. It’s the dialog and engagement that’s important. Features and benefits matter, and they’ll get their opportunity to be in the spotlight. But, features and benefits don’t make a brand – they sell the product. Right now, prospects – who are on their way to becoming your customers – are looking for reasons to listen to you. They’ll even help you spread the word about your brand.
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