One of the most common questions we get has to do with the best way to brand hemp and CBD products, and how this might differ from marketing cannabis. With the cannabis market still heavily regulated, and with growers and producers restricted to selling their product in their state of origin, competition is fierce in many states. This is forcing many cannabis farmers to switch over to hemp entirely, or to diversify their offerings with a mix of hemp and cannabis.
While hemp and CBD offer tremendous growth opportunities, the truth is the competition is no less fierce just because you are able to sell across state lines. And because of the many fundamental differences, your marketing approach needs to change as well. That's why many hemp and CBD producers are looking to partner with a professional marketing agency that specializes in the hemp market.
Today's blog post will look at many of those differences and offer tips for how to get the most out of your CBD and hemp marketing.
How Are Cannabis, CBD, And Hemp Different?
If you are a cannabis business owner, you probably already know the differences between cannabis, CBD, and hemp. But for those who may be newer to the industry, it should first be noted that technically all three are considered cannabis. This is because hemp and marijuana (a name no longer in common use because of its racist legacy) both derive from the same species, Cannabis sativa. Just looking at the plant, it's nearly impossible to tell them apart. The difference is really at the chemical level. Just like different breeds of dogs can look very little alike, but still can breed, cannabis and hemp are much more alike than they are different.
However, there is one distinguishing characteristic that separates the two. This has to do with how much tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive substance better known as THC, is contained within the plant. Hemp, by legal definition, must have .3% or less THC to qualify as hemp, and thereby allowed to be cultivated and sold in non-cannabis states.
What about CBD? Short for cannabinoid, CBD is a type of compound found in cannabis. These cannabinoids are a hot topic of medical research at the moment because of the way they interact with certain receptors inside the human body. There are a number of studies that suggest cannabis CBD can help patients with epilepsy, reduce pain, and alleviate anxiety, although we are still in the very early stages of understanding what CBD is and isn't capable of.
The Different Rules For Hemp, CBD, And Cannabis
The federal government still lists cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, which means it has been deemed to have no medical value and must be strictly regulated, even for research purposes. However, hemp and CBD can be produced throughout the US and sold across state lines. This is why you need to treat the marketing of your cannabis very differently from how you market your hemp or CBD. Legally speaking, they are in a completely different class from each other.
When it comes to cannabis, the US policy is pretty firm. Because it is still listed as a Schedule I drug, it can't be sold across state lines. It also makes even the simplest financial transactions fraught for legal cannabis businesses. In states where cannabis is legal, either recreationally or just for medical purposes, the laws for marketing your cannabis business should be pretty clear.
As for the rules and regulations regarding hemp and CBD, your state may also have specific guidelines you need to follow. The main difference is that it is legal to grow and sell hemp at the federal level. According to the FDA website, the:
FDA recognizes the potential opportunities that cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds may offer and acknowledges the significant interest in these possibilities. However, FDA is aware that some companies are marketing products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds in ways that violate the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and that may put the health and safety of consumers at risk. The agency is committed to protecting the public health while also taking steps to improve the efficiency of regulatory pathways for the lawful marketing of appropriate cannabis and cannabis-derived products. FDA has a number of resources available that address cannabis and cannabis-derived products, such as CBD, and the agency wants to ensure that consumers and other stakeholders have access to these resources in a centralized location.
To learn more about the FDA's hemp and CBD regulations, click here.
Why Your Marketing Needs To Change For Hemp And CBD Vs Cannabis?
Because of the very different legal landscape for cannabis versus for hemp and CBD, it's a good idea to have a separate strategy for your different products. Why? Well, first of all, your markets are completely different. When selling cannabis, you are restricted to the state in which it was produced. CBD and hemp can be sold across state lines, or even internationally.
Likewise, the type of people who are likely to consume cannabis are not always the same ones who are curious to try CBD. People who still look at cannabis as a drug that can't be trusted might not even know that CBD comes from the cannabis plant (that's the reason why many CBD products will say hemp-derived on the packaging, because many people also don't realize hemp and cannabis come from the same plant). Depending upon the type of products you're producing, your CBD goods may appeal to an entirely different clientele.
There's also the fact that hemp is also considered an industrial product in a way that cannabis is not. You may end up selling your hemp to be turned into paper or textiles, or some other mass produced commodity. The kind of B2B marketing you need to engage in will be worlds apart from what you need to do for high-end cannabis smokeable flower.
For all of these reasons and more, when you set about creating a marketing strategy, you need to keep your hemp and CBD in a completely separate category from your cannabis.
Reasons To Have Separate Websites For Your CBD And Cannabis
When we have clients that sell CBD, hemp, AND cannabis, we strongly recommend that they build separate websites for each product line. Because the clients and customers they are looking to cultivate are so completely different, the type of website that will be most effective for each will be very different as well. Let's assume you are a farmer looking to sell your hemp to industrial producers. What kind of website do you want? And how would that website look different for a grower who's producing indoor craft cannabis.
Even if you are only growing hemp, if you have a product line of your own brand of high-end CBD, then that's probably going to need a separate website from the bulk of your industrial hemp. Before you go and hire a designer for you website, really focus in on what your various brands and products are, and who the target audience is for each brand.
While it's tempting to just create separate tabs on a single domain, this can cause confusion with your potential customers. You want to be seen as the best at what you do, and the more focused you can make your brand presence, the easier it is to accomplish this. After all, even the biggest conglomerates still try and separate their various brands so as not to create brand confusion. That's why, for instance, you likely didn't know that Ben & Jerry's is owned by the multinational corporation Unilever.
Separate Your Hemp And Cannabis Social Media Accounts
The same philosophy applies to your social media. As most cannabis business owners already know, showcasing your cannabis products on social media can be problematic. Instagram, for instance, has a very ambiguous and ever-changing approach to what is and isn't allowed on their platform. Other sites, such as LinkedIn are more lenient (and we highly recommend that growers and dispensaries build up a healthy presence on LinkedIn for this reason).
But no matter what platform we're talking about, the rules are a bit looser for CBD and hemp than they are for cannabis. That's why you want to have a separate account for each different brand segment. Even if your branding is the same, having a separate account for CBD and hemp helps to insulate you in the case your primary cannabis account gets taken down.
Having to manage multiple accounts may seem like a headache at first, but it allows you to target your specific audience for each different product line that you have, which will definitely pay off in the long run.
Local SEO VS National SEO For Your CBD And Cannabis Products
We've already mentioned it several times, but it's worth repeating: you can't sell your cannabis products across state lines, while you can do so for most hemp and CBD products. This means that your approach to SEO will need to be completely different.
If you own a cannabis farm in Northern California, chances are you aren't that interested in ranking highly for people searching for cannabis in New York City. Unless you are running a cannabis tourism operation, your market is going to be exclusively within the State of California. But if you are growing hemp on that same farm, then you definitely want buyers looking for hemp in New York, or New Jersey, or even North Dakota, to see you ranking highly in their search results.
Broadly speaking, if you are selling cannabis, you want to focus on local SEO techniques. On the other hand, hemp and CBD companies want to focus on ranking highly for searches throughout the United States. Therefore, your SEO approach, and the kind of content you are producing in support of your marketing efforts, needs to be completely different.
That's why you would be wise to partner with a professional cannabis marketer who understands how to operate in a variety of locations for both cannabis and hemp producers.
Grow Your Hemp And Business With Professional Marketing From The Hood Collective
Though it may seem like there's little difference, marketing your hemp or CBD business poses many unique challenges when compared to cannabis marketing. In order to navigate CBD and hemp industry and successfully brand your various product lines, partner with the marketing professionals at The Hood Collective. Our team specializes in creating compelling cannabis and CBD content, with an eye towards SEO and your bottom line. We'll support your marketing endeavors with top-notch photography, video, and graphic design.
The Hood Collective has one objective, ensure the success of our clients the best that we can. No matter what your budget, we have solutions that will scale up as you grow. Whether you work with hemp, CBD, or cannabis, or all three, we have the digital marketing expertise that will make a difference.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.