Updated: Mar 6
Owning or managing a cannabis dispensary can be a tough business. Not only are you faced with incredible competition (in some states more than others) but you also have to deal with high taxes and strict regulations. One misstep can be fatal to your business. That’s why marketing is so important.
Unfortunately, with margins often very low, many cannabis dispensaries don’t have a large budget to work with when it comes to marketing. This leaves them in a tough bind. At The Hood Collective, we understand that every dollar counts and we work with our partners to get the maximum value out of all of their marketing content.
When it comes down to it, cannabis dispensaries are a retail business, and as such are subject to many of the same principles and best practices that apply to any other store front business, whether you are selling shoes or sewing supplies. But as we all know, cannabis dispensaries are also subject to many specific challengers that only impact our industry.
So let’s take a look at what you can do to effectively market your cannabis dispensary.
Come Up With A Marketing Plan
First things first. Before you start marketing your business, you need to have a plan. Too many dispensaries, because they don’t have a full time marketing person on their team, will take a piece meal approach. They’ll run an ad here, and show up to that cannabis event there, and then scratch their heads trying to figure out why it isn’t working.
Start out by coming up with some specific goals for your marketing campaign. Figure out what your budget is, and formulate a structured approach for how you will accomplish your goals. It’s probably a good idea to consult some marketing books or talk to some experts to get advice on what’s likely to work for you business. Most importantly, stay committed to making it work over the long haul.
Identify Your Target Audience
Before you start marketing to your potential customers, you need to know who your potential customers are. This makes it easier to choose marketing channels that will actually be seen by the people you want coming into your dispensary. It also helps to narrow down your target customer segment, so that you can have a more refined and efficient approach, and hopefully get even better results.
We all know that not everyone consumes cannabis. Targeting consumers is obviously where you want to start. Likewise, as a neighborhood business, you want to refine your marketing efforts to your particular area, whether that’s a section of a major city, or a particular exit on a highway. But you also want to reach demographics that are likely to be interested in your wares, whether that’s based on a certain age group, an activity that’s cannabis friendly, or people suffering from a particular medical condition. All of this narrowing of your marketing focus makes your campaign execution more effective.
Build A Kick Ass Cannabis Website
Just like you do everything to make your physical location look its best, you also need a digital location to help attract and maintain customers. A high-quality professional website will give your dispensary the ability to do a lot of things. You’ll be able to build effective SEO targeting local cannabis consumers. You’ll be able to take advantage of geographic-based services (see below) such as Google My Business and Leafly.
In some states, you may even be able to sell through your website. Cannabis delivery is going to become more and more popular, and having a strong online presence will be essential to thriving in such an environment. Even if deliveries aren’t legal right now, get a head start, because inevitably they will be at some point, and dispensaries could be left behind as distributors and national chains move in and dominate this space thanks to their superior marketing and branding.
Create A Strong Brand Identity For Your Dispensary
Speaking of branding, with so many dispensaries popping up, it’s imperative that you differentiate yourself with clear messaging. What can people expect when they come into your store? Effective branding can give your potential customers a distinct idea of what your dispensary represents without ever stepping foot inside just based on your logo and marketing alone.
Some dispensaries will want to emphasize the friendliness and expertise of their staff. Others will play up the medicinal benefits of their product, and go for a health and wellness approach. Others will highlight a particular cultural identity of their founders. Whatever the situation, figure out what your dispensary stands for and communicate that clearly to your customers through your marketing and branding.
Take Advantage Of Google My Business And Other Location-Based Services
Cannabis dispensaries have to approach their marketing in a way that’s different from most other businesses in the industry. This is because their sales are tied directly to their physical location. Fortunately, there are a number of location-based websites and mobile apps that make it possible for users to search for the dispensaries near them.
It is essential for any dispensary to capitalize on these sites. Two examples that are not cannabis specific are Google My Business and Yelp. Do everything you can to rank highly on these platforms. But there are also cannabis specific services that serve much the same function. Leafly is perhaps the most famous, but there are many more. Your biggest challenge may be deciding which of the platforms that are popping up everyday to concentrate on.
Explore All The Available Marketing Channels For Cannabis Businesses
Looking beyond Yelp and Leafly, cannabis dispensaries need to look into all the possible marketing channels available to them. Some of these will be cannabis specific. For example, you might sponsor the local 420 golf tournament or bowling event. Some will be geographic specific, such as renting the space on the billboard down the street from your dispensary. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box either.
It’s always a good idea for local businesses to become involved with their community. This might mean sponsoring an adult softball team or donating time and/or money to a local charity drive. Your job as the marketer of your cannabis dispensary is to make sure every person in the area knows your business is there and will think of you the next time they are buying cannabis.
Don’t Ignore The Power Of Social Media
Of course, no marketing overview would be complete without mentioning social media. Like with everything cannabis-related, social media marketing poses a number of unique challenges. For some business owners, the negatives outweigh the positives and they view social media as a waste of time. But for those who are killing it on Instagram or Facebook, they know that when you do it right, social media’s advantages far outweigh the potential drawbacks.
The most important thing is to stay in the good graces of the platforms. It sucks to get your account taken down, especially after you’ve spent months, or even years, building up your followers and engagement. While there’s no clear guidelines of exactly what will get you kicked off, never ever try and sell your product directly, or list prices or links to where they can make purchases. This kind of action is pretty much guaranteed to get you booted.
Keep Track Of What’s Working
Finally, it’s imperative that you keep careful track of what is and isn’t working. Run experiments and analyze the results, with the goal of refining your marketing approach as you go. Many people will run ads with discount codes or instructions to bring this into the store for a 10% discount. This makes it easier to know where people are hearing about you and what they are responding to.
Market Your Cannabis Dispensary With The Hood Collective
Marketing is never easy. Whether you’re looking for a full time marketing agency to handle all of your marketing objectives, or just need a one-time graphic designer or photographer to assist you in your over all marketing, we can help.
The Hood Collective specializes in supporting cannabis businesses achieve their marketing and branding goals, no matter what their size. We work with our partners to create professional, engaging cannabis content at a price point that fits within their budget. We handle the hard work of marketing your business so you can concentrate on what you do best.
Contact us today to learn more.