The cannabis industry in America is growing at an incredible, and yet not entirely unexpected rate. As more and more states ease restrictions on recreational marijuana usage, the playing field is widening for dispensary owners, processors, and growers. According to Forbes, the cannabis industry is expected to surpass $47 billion by 2027 (up from just $9.2 billion in 2017).
Yet even as the stigma surrounding recreational cannabis usage subsides and the practice inches further into the mainstream, digital media companies are largely holding their ground as far as their bans on paid cannabis advertising. Google, Facebook and Instagram are all quick to shut down any ads promoting cannabis products and services. And though some agencies might pitch you on tricks to skirt those bans, the truth is that the risks outweigh the rewards and you simply cannot afford to have your social media channels or your website blacklisted by any of these giants. It’s best to just adhere to the rules and go about your digital marketing using the proper channels. How, you ask? Let’s get into it…
Establish Your Brand
Keep in mind, we’re not talking about logos and taglines (although those are part of it). It’s important that you know how you want to be perceived and what you want your company to represent. Your brand is the voice and the identity of your cannabis business and you’ll want to spend some time developing it before getting wrapped up in other projects and ventures. The right brand and brand messaging can help you stand out among your peers, ensure that your business is remembered and remains part of the conversation.
Build A Website That Gets Results
As a business in the cannabis industry, you’re going to see your share of obstacles when it comes to getting your name out there. And because you’re going to be subjected to far more red tape, regulations, biases, and bans than other businesses in your neighborhood, it’s imperative that you spend the appropriate time and resources on your website. Your website is the digital hub of your marketing efforts and the first introduction to your business that most consumers will ever have (and you only get one chance to make a great first impression). Before you commit to saving a few bucks with a DIY site builder, or outsourcing to your nephew who took a class in web design one summer, consider that this is by far your biggest opportunity to give clients an unfiltered and honest look at who you are and what you represent.
Educate Your Readers
If you’re not doing content marketing yet, it’s time to start. Remember, when it comes to the cannabis industry, there are still a lot of half-truths, misconceptions, myths, and flat out lies that need to be clarified. Use your brand and your expertise to shine light on cannabis topics and educate your site visitors and social media followers as opposed to just hitting them with sales offers and promotions. By doing this, you’re adding credibility to your brand and doing your part to become a valued resource for your audience. You can even lend your expertise to other popular resources by way of guest blogs and user-submitted content.
Get Your Google My Business Page In Order
Sure, Google won’t let you pay for advertising, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be part of one of Google’s key features for businesses. Right up there with hanging a sign on the door, completing your Google My Business profile needs to be one of the first things you do as a company to let customers know you exist. A thorough Google My Business account will let potential customers in your area know everything they need to know about your business: your location, hours of operation, services, contact info, etc. Furthermore, since GMB is a Google entity, you’re setting yourself up for seamless integration with other Google properties and laying the groundwork for improved SEO (but more on that later).
SEO is Key
Since you can’t buy your way to the top of Google’s first page like other industries, cannabis marketing is even more dependent upon strategic SEO. Your website’s content, and the framework of the website itself, MUST be developed with your target audience in mind. This means targeting specific keywords relevant to the products and services you offer. By doing so, you’re taking the steps necessary for Google to recognize your company as a credible source for their users. Eventually, you’ll see this show of confidence reflected in your organic rankings as your site inches closer and closer to Google’s first page of search results. Keep in mind that SEO is an immensely complicated concept and there is no “finish line” of sorts. To get the most out of your website in terms of organic rankings, you may want to consider partnering with an experienced cannabis SEO agency; one with a team of SEO experts who can stay up to date on the latest SEO strategies and best practices and can constantly monitor your site’s strengths and areas for opportunity.
No one ever claimed that marketing a cannabis company would be simple. Yet, the cannabis industry is growing and the sooner you can stake your claim to your share of the market, the better. And while you’ll run into challenges and red tape that other business owners won’t, don’t be discouraged. You can successfully market your business, reach your customers, and drive revenue by way of digital channels. Many times, the best course of action is to find a reputable cannabis marketing and public relations agency to serve as a partner to your organization. This will take the worry off of your plate, allowing you to focus on growing your business and serving your customers.