Updated: Jul 27
Tips for what your cannabis company can do when you don't have a marketing budget.
One common thread I’ve found among a lot of cannabis businesses here in Oregon, including dispensaries, farms, indoor growers, and processors, is that they will invest heavily to ensure they are producing the best possible products and services, but they leave very little money for marketing their business. I can’t emphasize enough how big of a mistake this is.
While everyone takes great pride producing top shelf cannabis of the highest quality, it won’t do your bottom line any good if no one knows about it. We can all think of national TV commercials for products that really aren’t that great, yet everyone is familiar with them because of the huge marketing campaigns that have made them popular.
The cold hard truth is that marketing is essential for any business. But in an industry with really tight margins, high taxes, and large upfront investments, many companies find they don’t have a lot of money to spend on a proper marketing agency or a full time marketing team. Fortunately, there are a lot of options for marketing your business that cost little or no money whatsoever, except the time you must devote to them.
The cold hard truth is that marketing is essential for any business. But in an industry with really tight margins, high taxes, and large upfront investments, many companies find they don’t have a lot of money to spend on a proper marketing agency or a full time marketing team.
Promote Your Cannabis Business On Social Media
The most obvious free option for promoting your cannabis company is via social media. Instagram and Facebook are both extremely popular among cannabis fans, and they offer a great opportunity for businesses to connect directly with consumers.
We often recommend to smaller companies, such as independent dispensaries or small farms, that they find someone on their team with an interest in photography and assign them the task of being their social media manager. This can be especially attractive for younger employees who are already very familiar with how these platforms work.
The key is that you only want to post content that really shows off your products in the best light. Don’t post subpar quality pictures. For instance, the lighting in many grow rooms can be quite grating, or completely dark, resulting in photos with a weird tint or a harsh flash. Using these kinds of photos as promotional materials can do more harm than good, especially in an era when every cell phone has a very powerful camera on it.
Many businesses are also finding tremendous success on LinkedIn, which has looser policies with regards to cannabis advertising. It’s especially a great platform for companies that serve a B2B function.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube all have have spotty records when it comes to clearly explaining their user guidelines. Many companies have found their successful accounts, even those primarily dealing with hemp or CBD, have been taken down with little or no notice, without any explanation. Do your best to educate yourself as to what is and isn’t allowed.
Get Listed On Google My Business
For companies with a physical location, such as dispensaries and event organizers, Google My Business is a great tool for increasing your likelihood of being found in web searches. Even if you don’t have customers coming into a store, when marketing to customers in a specific geographic region, Google My Business can be a tremendous asset.
As a rule of thumb, the more information you provide, the more organic promotion you can expect from Google. This means you want to fill out your entire profile, supply quality photos and video, and document your complete business hours, as well as provide any other information they ask for that applies to your company.
You can find a thorough primer on how to maximize your presence with Google My Business here.
Utilize SEO Best Practices
Speaking of Google, SEO is an important tool that your business can use to maximize your online presence and drive search traffic. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it involves optimizing your website in such a way that you improve your search rankings on Google and other search engines.
You should be warned however that many marketing companies will try to sell you on their SEO services but do only the bare minimum on your behalf. Filling out your metadata and creating descriptive page names, while helpful, really won’t move the needle if that’s all you do.
The truth is that SEO is a brute force problem that requires consistent work over a significant period of time to see real results. The more quality content you create for your website, the more likely you are to show up high in the search rankings. Even better, when you create specific content that is tailored for the keywords you have identified as being most relevant to your business, the search traffic should definitely start showing up.
Start A Cannabis Blog
One of the best ways to boost your SEO is with a quality cannabis blog that you update on a regular basis. By answering the questions that are most relevant to your potential customers, you will be more likely to get visitors and more likely to be remembered for the value you provide.
Bear in mind that your blog should serve two equally important functions. It should cover topics that are relevant to your customers and are likely to be searched for frequently, as well as provide accurate, original information that can’t be found elsewhere. Accomplish both together, and you’ll have a successful blog.
Gain Subscribers With A Cannabis Newsletter
The same content that you are putting out in a blog could also make for a good newsletter. The advantage of the latter is that your audience actually has to opt in by supplying an email address. A newsletter allows you to communicate directly to your customers and keep them up to date on your latest products, upcoming events, and important announcements.
As your subscriber base continues to grow, it will create more cross marketing opportunities. Other brands will pay for the privilege of being mentioned in a successful newsletter, and many companies find there is no more valuable asset than a robust email list.
Formulate A Press Strategy
Working with a professional PR company is a great way to generate press for your business, but it can also be expensive. The good news is that you don’t need a powerful press agent to secure meaningful interviews and feature articles, especially in the cannabis industry.
The truth is there are new cannabis magazines and websites starting up all the time, and they always are in need of great content. Moreover, the cannabis community is still quite small, so it’s not difficult to build relationships with journalists, even from some of the bigger names in the industry.
I recommend making friends with any journalists you encounter, without being obvious about trying to get interviewed or featured in an article. Play the long game, build relationships, and it should pay off eventually.
Get Invited Onto Cannabis Podcasts
Another growing trend in media, especially the cannabis space, is the burgeoning number of podcasts around. It almost seems like everyone you encounter has their own podcast, and for businesses trying to increase their brand exposure without spending a lot of money, they represent a great opportunity for free publicity.
Become A Cannabis Thought Leader
Finally, an excellent way to generate interest in your business and products is to position yourself as a cannabis thought leader. If you are an entrepreneur in the cannabis space, you almost certainly have a lot to say about the plant and the industry.
With the pandemic under control and cannabis events returning around the country, there are plenty of speaking opportunities that will be popping up. Whether it’s sitting on a cannabis panel or giving a keynote speech, speaking at cannabis events is a great way to draw attention to your company.
Market Your Cannabis Business With The Hood Collective
While all of the above offer low cost options for marketing your cannabis company, they aren’t actually free. This is because even if you aren’t spending money, it takes a large investment in terms of time and bandwidth. For this reason, many businesses look to partner with a marketing expert or content creation team to take their branding to the next level.
The Hood Collective specializes in creating professional, eye-catching visuals and cannabis content at an affordable price point. We handle the hard work of marketing your business so you can concentrate on what you do best.
Contact us today to learn more.