Updated: Jul 27
Marketing is a scary endeavor for many cannabis business owners, especially when you have a science or agriculture background and hate the thought of advertising campaigns or customer demographics. But the reality is that in an extremely competitive industry like cannabis, a well-thought-out marketing campaign can be the difference between surviving as a company or being cast out of the industry.
The reality is that in an extremely competitive industry like cannabis, a well-thought-out marketing campaign can be the difference between surviving as a company or being cast out of the industry.
This is especially true in states that don’t have any (or very few) limits on the number of licenses that are issued, so that there’s way more product and competitors than is sustainable in the long run. In such an environment, it’s the companies that take the time to formulate a long term marketing plan and invest the money in executing it who are going to last.
But before you start throwing money into magazine ads, event sponsorships, and billboards, it’s critical that you take the time to develop a long term marketing strategy. You must figure out what your goals are, and how your marketing campaigns will support those goals. Then you work on executing.
So let’s take a look at what goes into a sound marketing strategy and how your cannabis business should go about implementing one.
Identify Your Value Proposition
Before you start any form of marketing, you need to establish what is known as your value proposition. What this means is, taking a hard look at your company and your products/services, and figuring out why it is that your customer should choose your brand instead of your competitor’s. You have to be realistic and honest. We do a lot of tours every year of cannabis facilities, and we are constantly hearing things like, “We grow the cleanest flower,” or “We’re the only ones with this piece of equipment.”
The truth is, your brand probably isn’t the cleanest, or the best tasting, or have the highest THC. And even if it is, your competitor’s are going to be claiming the same thing. What you need to identify is the unique offerings of your company that no one else has. Maybe you are located in a unique geography, or you have established yourself locally in a way that no one else has. Perhaps you are using a unique growing method, or have a genetics program no one else does. More likely, it’s a combination of things that make your company unique.
By outlining the main customer benefits and what unique value you can offer them, you now have a great overview of what your main marketing message will be.
Figure Out Who Your Customers Are
Now that you have an idea of what about your company you want to broadcast to the world, it’s now time to assess who your target audience is. For many larger corporations, this includes defining buyer personas, which are thumbnail sketches of what a typical customer of your cannabis product or service might be like. It may also include general demographics of your ideal customer.
This is an important step, because knowing who your target customers are and where they are located will help determine what platforms to use in your marketing and advertising campaigns, not to mention the actual content of those campaigns. If you are already doing business, it makes sense to conduct some customer surveys, to get a general overview of who’s already purchasing your products.
Learn The (Cannabis) Rules
Before actually starting any marketing efforts, it’s imperative that you familiarize yourself with the rules in your state with regards to what is and what isn’t allowed. Cannabis is obviously a heavily regulated industry, and that includes how and where it is advertised. Failing to follow the rules can have seriously adverse impacts on your business.
Furthermore, the rules and regulations are always changing. What’s allowed in terms of packaging, what’s permitted on social media, and more are always subject to the latest whims of the local governing body. Plus, with the possibility of federal legalization of cannabis on the horizon, that’s another factor that must be considered.
For many companies, it’s easier to partner with a cannabis marketing agency who’s already well-versed on the regulations in their region, rather than try and navigate the process alone.
Set Your Marketing Goals
Next, it’s time to establish your goals. These could be general, such as to boost sales, or specific, such as to gain X number of Instagram followers a month. While general goals are useful in the macro sense, it’s important that you be as specific as possible when determining what your goals are in the near and medium term, so that you can take effective actions in response.
It helps to have some pretty deep knowledge of the cannabis market in your region, while also identifying who your main competitors are. This helps you to craft realistic goals that will actually be achievable, while also giving your something to aim for.
Formulate A Budget
As you move to implement your plan, you need to have a budget in place, so you can be realistic about what’s possible and what’s not. Unfortunately, we meet cannabis business owners all the time who claim they have no money for marketing. When consulting with new entrepreneurs who are in the pre-launch phase, we always emphasize that no business plan is complete without setting aside money for your marketing endeavors.
Some companies will funnel a certain percentage of their profits into marketing. Others have a set amount they earmark each quarter. However you approach it, having money to invest in marketing and advertising is the only way to create a viable cannabis brand in the long term.
Another consideration is if you want to have an in-house marketing specialist or hire outside experts. There’s no right or wrong answer here. Once again, it’s a matter of what your goals are and what your budget is.
Research Marketing Channels
Another crucial aspect of your cannabis marketing strategy is deciding where you will actually be advertising. For many companies, the full extent of their marketing is done on Facebook and Instagram. Others will embark on full-fledged advertising campaigns that cover magazines, online advertising, newsletters, trade shows, social media influencers, and more.
Before you pick a particular direction, you need to research all the options, and match up the various pros and cons of any particular platform with the customer demographic you created earlier. Knowing who you want to reach, and how to reach them, means that you are now ready to create your plan and put it into action.
Create A Plan And Act On It
While creating the actual cannabis marketing plan may sound like the hardest part, if you’ve actually done all of the above steps in a thorough manner, an actionable strategy should now be easy to put together.
But one other thing that’s important to keep in mind as you begin executing your marketing plan is that you want to keep track of what is and isn’t working, and pivot accordingly. Analytics are an important aspect of effective marketing, especially in the cannabis industry, and so you should build data recording into your plan. Testing various methods is also important, as it allows you to more quickly identify the most promising approaches and focus your attention in that direction.
Make The Hood Collective Part Of Your Cannabis Marketing Strategy
Marketing is a huge endeavor. No company, no matter how big or small, can do everything on their own. Finding the right marketing partners should be an important part of your overall marketing strategy.
At The Hood Collective, we specialize in creating top notch, engaging cannabis content at an affordable price point. Whether you need cannabis photography, video production, graphic design, social media management, or drone content, we are experienced pros that understand the cannabis industry.
Contact us today to learn more.