by Jon Bernard
Marketing cannabis brands is like threading a needle. If you are new to the idea, it might take a little practice, but with enough experience, you can do it right every time. The challenge? You need more than just one distinct brand voice to nail as well as wrestle with social media restrictions and ad regulations.
With those fairly steep challenges before you, how are you supposed to build your brand? Here are five basic tips that will get cannabis businesses started so they can thread the needle more consistently:
Tip #1: Compliance First — Everything Else Later
Why compliance first? Let’s put it this way: say you successfully generate a following on social media. If you face account restrictions or even lose your account, those followers go away, and they might have a hard time finding you again.
Some cannabis brands set up a dozen social media accounts in anticipation that they will lose most of them to a ban or account flag. That is no way to build a reputation for your businesses. It means a fragmented follower base and scattered messaging with no clear way to build your brand until only one account remains. For that reason, focus on making one business account per platform and ensure you are adhering to relevant cannabis advertising regulations as well as platform terms and conditions.
Tip #2: Shift Perceptions
Is there a nice way to say it? Cannabis products are still the subject of social stigma. If you want your brand and your potential customer base to grow, you need to lead from the front when it comes to destigmatizing cannabis merchandise.
While every market will have unique challenges, we recommend a two-fold approach:
- Educate first, promote second.
Ease concerns by explaining the proven benefits of your products. Make sure your website copy is informative and that your budtenders have the knowledge and personability to answer a new customer’s questions. You may even want to create and publish infographics or pamphlets explaining the differences between CBD oil and THC products.
- Promote statistics that make your case.
Provide quotes and statistics from reputable sources that talk about your product’s benefits. Be careful with the advertising conditions here — making unfounded scientific claims could lead to account restrictions.
Tip #3: Appeal to Different Demographics
If you work in the cannabis business every day, you might trust your gut feeling about demographics over hard research. It may feel like the ideal target market are consumers who are already cannabis enthusiasts, but think about your other niches and speak directly to them. Can you help a 65-year-old with hip pain? Can you help a 45-year-old with anxiety?
Not only should you make your brand appealing to these different kinds of shoppers, but you can use targeted advertising to show them ads that are relevant to their specific situation. Create content for different demographics and remember that cannabis can appeal to other types of consumers when marketing focuses on health benefits rather than recreational use.
Tip #4: Develop a Content Marketing Strategy
An event. A factoid. A guide to cannabis. A funny Tweet. A guide to pain management for CBD users. Whatever it is, make sure you are giving your followers something to chew on. Content marketing is extremely valuable for developing brand awareness, asserting yourself as an expert on your product, and keeping customers engaged long-term.
The key is to know when to pitch your product and when to give the customers something like a funny social post or an informative blog. You need to strike the right balance, giving them a reason to follow you, but also asking for their loyalty in return. Gary Vaynerchuk calls this the “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” method.
Tip #5: Track Industry News
If you are a cannabis business in need of content, you have one huge advantage: a rapidly-changing industry combined with an ongoing battle for recreational legalization. For these reasons, there tends to be a good amount of cannabis industry news from changing state laws to new scientific research. Writing social posts or blog articles about cannabis news is an effective addition to your content marketing strategy and gives you a reason to post frequent updates while simultaneously establishing your brand as an authority on the subject.
Turn Your Cannabis Brand into a Marketing Machine
Building a brand does not happen overnight. If you are starting a cannabis business from the ground up, you know the challenge extends beyond one viral social media post. You need consistency, both in marketing and customer engagement. You also need to cultivate a unique identity, build a voice that matches your niche, and educate your audience before you promote. Do all of the above — and do it consistently — and your brand will easily pick up traction and develop a loyal following.
Jon Bernard is a National Account Manager at Stomp Stickers. Stomp is an ecommerce business that offers high-quality custom labels, stickers, boxes, canopy tents, and more. Jon’s passion is helping his customers brand and market their products through a variety of custom-printed items.