- Posted by Noni Cavaliere
- On August 22, 2018
- 0 Comments
As the U.S. cannabis industry flourishes and marijuana becomes increasingly mainstream, there’s never been a better time to build a thriving business. For dispensary owners, opportunities for growth and success are aplenty – but so are the unique challenges of learning how to market cannabis effectively and legally.
You already know that the cannabis industry is fast-paced, highly competitive, and always evolving. Dispensaries have no shortage of competitors, but customers are also in plentiful supply. Savvy cannabusiness owners have the potential to harvest huge profits as long as they come well-prepared with a solid understanding of the regulations and restrictions that make marijuana marketing so unique.
Because of the rules for cannabis marketing, many traditional advertising channels are inaccessible to or a poor fit for dispensaries and other canna-businesses. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t develop and implement an outstanding dispensary marketing plan that delivers measurable results.
We’ve created a guide that breaks down exactly how to create a well-suited strategy that balances digital marketing best practices with the dos and don’ts of advertising in the cannabis industry – it’s time to eliminate the guesswork of marijuana marketing and put together a plan that works for your dispensary.
How to Create a Marketing Plan for Your Dispensary
Advertising your dispensary will require a series of smart steps, each one just as important as the last. Our guide has put these steps in a recommended order, making it easy to get started and build on your progress little by little.
How quickly you complete the steps is up to you – but as you probably already know, there’s no time to waste when it comes to getting your dispensary marketing strategy into high gear. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed at any point, calling in the professionals could be a good investment of your time, energy, and budget. By the end of this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to build your online brand presence, launch high-quality marketing materials, and connect with the right customers at the right time.
Step 1: Build a Dispensary Website
First and foremost, you’re going to need to create your cannabis dispensary website. For cannabis companies, traditional advertising methods like search and display ads are significantly restricted. As a result, your website and organic search engine optimization (SEO) efforts are an especially critical part of your marketing plan.
Dispensary branding: Who you are
Before you dive right into website design, take a moment to consider your brand. What do you want your dispensary’s online personality to look and feel like? Are you aiming for a casual, laidback brand that attracts young adults with creative marketing? Or maybe your dispensary targets a higher-end crowd, presenting an upscale image and professional tone. There’s not necessarily a right or wrong brand identity; what matters is choosing one that feels right for you and sticking with it.
Your brand will be the basis of your website design: from the colors and the fonts to the copy’s tone of voice, every element should align with your brand identity. Find a balance between professionalism and personality, interweaving your brand to set yourself apart from other dispensaries.
A high-quality, user-friendly design
We’ve all encountered poorly designed websites, making it virtually impossible to find the specific details we’re looking for. And odds are, if you’re anything like us, you have one reaction to a badly-built website – and that’s to click away from it as quickly as possible.
Don’t make the same mistake with your dispensary website design. All of the work you put into a cannabis dispensary marketing plan will be undermined by a website that turns users off, so make sure you create a set-up that’s simple, attractive, and functional.
Your website doesn’t need to have dozens of pages littered with images, text, and video. It’s better if it doesn’t. Instead, create a streamlined, professionally-designed website that will give your users an excellent first impression… and keep them interested in what your dispensary has to offer.
Modern Internet users are far more likely to use their smartphones for online browsing, whether they’re casually scrolling at home or doing a quick search while out and about. According to TechCrunch, nearly half of consumers will decide to choose a competitor if your mobile site is nonfunctional or frustrating to use.
For cannabis businesses, this means that having a site optimized for mobile use isn’t an option; it’s a necessity for a well-structured digital marketing strategy.
Step 2: Set Up a Google My Business Page
Now that your website is up and running, it’s time to make your mark on an online search.
One of the most indispensable tools in your cannabis business marketing toolbox is Google My Business. Free, easy to activate, and highly effective in driving web and in-person traffic, Google My Business is a no-brainer addition to your marketing plan.
If you’re not familiar with GMB, here’s a quick rundown: when a user conducts an online search, for example, “dispensaries near me,” the results page includes Google’s “knowledge panel” on the right-hand side. The goal is to make sure that your dispensary’s GMB listing – and all of your correct information – pop up for the geographically relevant users looking for the products/services you offer. You want to make finding your dispensary fast and convenient; otherwise, users will simply choose your competitors instead.
How to set up a Google My Business listing
The good news is that it doesn’t get much easier for business owners than setting up a GMB listing. You can tackle this task even if you have limited time, and the payoff is more than worth it.
- First, claim ownership of your GMB listing by verifying your Google Business account. If you don’t already have a Google account, you’ll need to create one. The email you use to sign in will be associated with your business, so keep that in mind.
- Then, enter your dispensary address. Google might ask you to position a marker on the map to establish a physical location.
- After you click next, you will decide how you want your business to be displayed on Google Maps. For dispensaries, you’ll generally enter your business address for Google Maps (because you serve customers at this location). If you also deliver, make sure to include that as well.
- Select the appropriate business category, then click “Next.”
- Enter the remaining information, including your dispensary phone number and website (good thing you already set up your site, right?). Click “Finish.”
- Google will give you a few different options to verify your listing, so choose the one you prefer.
Optimizing your GMB listing
The process of GMB optimization is one that we go deeper into in another post, but the general idea is that the more information you provide, the better. Users are more likely to choose a dispensary that provides useful details such as contact information, photos, and branded imagery.
Look at it from the user perspective: imagine being presented with a handful of listings for dispensaries in your area. How are you going to go about choosing one to shop at? More than likely, you’ll quickly click through their listing details to see which one seems like the best option. As a business owner, you want to do everything in your power to make your dispensary listing the one that gets the most clicks – and in turn, customer visits.
Building organic SEO strategies
With a website and GMB listing, you’re ready to start building backlinks and directory citations. This is where you can begin strengthening your organic SEO, attracting the kind of traffic that will convert into paying customers.
For this part of your marketing plan, time and effort are going to be the key ingredients. For many business owners, it’s here that dispensary marketing can get pretty complex, making it a good time to tap into your professional marketing resources.
Step 3: Get Started with Social Media
Even though the legalization of cannabis is steadily sweeping our nation, you wouldn’t know it based on the state of restrictions on social media ads for canna-businesses. On social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, paid ads are still a no-go for your dispensary. However, you can still make excellent use of social media marketing in more ways than one.
Back in “the good old days,” word of mouth was one of the best ways to get your marketing message out there. Now, word of mouth still holds plenty of value; it’s just taken on a new form. Rather than chatting about new businesses in-person only, more and more people are using their social media accounts to have these types of conversations. Word of mouth has moved online, and social media plays a huge part in consumers’ purchasing decisions.
For businesses, social media offers up the opportunity to shape the conversation surrounding your brand. Additionally, you can also target customers with high-quality content, build brand authority, and make authentic connections with your follower base.
Set up your social media profiles
A good social media marketing strategy is one that focuses on maintaining a positive, active presence across a few platforms. You don’t necessarily have to be on every social site out there, but it’s a good idea to set up profiles on the most popular ones.
Make sure you stick to a professional appearance when creating your dispensary social media pages, including high-quality images, detailed information, and a well-written business description.
Engage with others
Once your profiles are complete, it’s time to start getting social. Set aside time every day to post content, maintaining a consistent schedule. Don’t overwhelm your followers with constant posting, but share often enough that you’re making regular appearances in their feeds.
Your activity should go beyond your own page, taking you into positive interaction with other users as well. Comment, like, and share, always keeping your tone friendly and professional. If customers leave feedback on your page, post a personalized, positive response. The goal is to bring life to your brand’s social media presence and build invaluable trust, which will make users far more likely to choose you over a faceless dispensary.
Step 4: Launch Your Email and Mobile Marketing Campaigns
Another way to reach people is through email and mobile marketing. Through mobile and email campaigns, you can both build rapport with customers and present them with incentives for their continued business.
For example, one of your dispensary mobile marketing strategies might be to send a text message to new customers with a discount to be used during their next visit. Or, you can launch an email marketing campaign that sends a weekly email containing details about new products and special promotions.
Email and mobile marketing can also help you continue to build trust in your brand, setting your dispensary up as an authority within the industry. With informative newsletters sent via email, you can educate and entertain customers while demonstrating your brand’s expert credentials.
Device ID targeting is one of the newest ways to incorporate technology into your email and mobile marketing efforts. Using DID technology, this strategy allows you to send highly tailored content to specific customers at a certain time and/or place. Here’s an example: let’s say that you have a fairly regular customer that tends to visit your dispensary every Friday afternoon. On Thursday, you can send an automated text that contains a coupon for 10% off their next purchase with device ID targeting. In seconds, you’ve solidified their plans to come in to shop on Friday, and the discount might have even motivated them to add a few more items to their purchase.
Step 5: Consider Native Advertising
We’ve all seen native ads, but many of us don’t even realize it – and it’s that chameleon-like quality that makes native advertising so useful.
A native advertisement is a piece of content that looks like a standard editorial post but is specifically written to promote a product or advocate a brand. The content itself looks and feels authentic (because it is), avoiding a pushy or too-”salesy” tone. Because the purpose of native ads is to promote a business, product, or service, they will seamlessly incorporate mentions and links to the brand’s website.
Native ads for dispensaries can be one of the best ways to flesh out a digital presence, as well as drive interest in your brand. Look for platforms that are relevant to your target audience so that you can be confident that your content will be the right fit. For example, you might arrange a collaborative native ad in your local cannabis publication, covering the season’s top strains. You could link several relevant products on your website in the ad, ideally leading your target audience to further browsing and in-person shopping.
Engaging content is the key to successful native ads, especially because today’s consumers are smarter than they’ve ever been. They don’t want to feel like they’re blatantly advertised to and are likely to skip right over your content if it feels like an overt advertisement. Aim for content that will genuinely interest the reader and offer them something of value while simultaneously promoting your brand.
Step 6: Create Dispensary Blogs and Vlog Content
Much like native advertising, blogs and vlogs (video blogs) are designed to draw consumers in with relevant content. However, instead of promoting your products, blogs and vlogs are designed to inform, entertain, and educate.
You can post blog content on your website blog or a standalone blog platform, and vlogging videos can live on a streaming outlet such as YouTube. However you choose to share this type of content, relevance is always the goal. Not only are consumers more likely to engage with content they find interesting, but business-relevant blog content also supports improved organic search engine optimization (SEO) rankings.
Here are a few quick and easy blog ideas for dispensaries to get you started:
- The latest news from the cannabis industry
- New information about changing cannabis restrictions or regulations in your area
- How-to guides
- Suggestions for new strains, edibles, or other products to try
- Educational information about new cannabis research
Similar to social media posting, blogging and vlogging requires a consistent posting schedule and a commitment to quality content.
Marijuana Marketing Xperts: Your Go-To Team for Dispensary Advertising
Figuring out how to market your cannabis dispensary doesn’t have to be a daunting task, especially if you’re prepared with a good dispensary marketing plan and a team of experts to support you every step of the way.
Marijuana Marketing Xperts is a one-of-a-kind digital marketing agency working exclusively in the cannabis industry, partnering with cannabis dispensaries, cannabis brands, and other related companies. Our extensive marketing expertise, combined with our specialized understanding of the nuances of advertising a cannabis business, has equipped us to lead you to success.
Whether you’re starting from scratch with a brand-new dispensary marketing plan or you just want to make some smart adjustments to your existing strategy, the MMX team is here to help. Together, we can strategize a plan for measurable results and sustainable growth. Plus, you’ll get back the time and energy you need to manage your business – and we’ll worry about marketing it.
Get more information about devising, implementing, and maintaining a cannabis dispensary marketing plan that actually works when you contact Marijuana Marketing Xperts today.